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History and Traditions
The Order of the Coif
 
Summary
The Order of the Coif is a national law school honor society which aims to reward excellence in legal scholarship.  Each spring, the top ten percent of the September, February, and June graduating classes are elected and initiated into the society.  The University of Michigan Law School joined the Order of the Coif in 1911.
 
Details by Year: 1955
List of Years


The Order of the Coif: 1955
 
Each spring a group of law students, by virtue of their high scholastic achievements, is elected to the most ancient of all honor societies, the Order of the Coif. In modern times the honor falls to those whose grade averages rank them in the upper ten per cent of their graduating class.
Originally a forensic institution dating back to the 13th century in England, the order evolved out of a tight little group of distinguished jurists who would select new members from the ranks of the apprentices. The neophytes had to prove their superior ability via a screen test by going through the form of pleading in a real action, in old Norman French.
If these apprentices passed the test, they were initiated by a ceremony not unlike the coronation of royalty. They were awarded the coif, a tight-fitting cap which was the badge of the society. This symbol of distinction was worn constantly and the members were even entitled to wear the coif in royal presence. However, the cumbersome business of fitting coifs over the wigs eventually necessitated the giving of a gold key in place of the cap.
Judges were taken only from the Order and the list of famous fraternity brothers includes Coke and Littleton.
--From The Quad, 1955
Details by Year: 1957
List of Years

The Order of the Coif: 1957


The most ancient of all honor societies, the Order of the Coif, originally a forensic institution dating back to the thirteenth century in England, evolved out of a tight little group of distinguished jurists who would select new members from the ranks of the apprentices, who had to prove their superior ability by pleading a real action in old Norman French. If these apprentices passed the test, they were initiated by a ceremony not unlike the coronation of royalty; they were awarded the coif, a tight-fitting cap, which was worn constantly, even in royal presence. Judges were taken only from the Order.
Today, the Order of the Coif is a national law school honor society, founded for the purposes of encouraging legal scholarship and advancing the ethical standards of the legal profession. Its members are selected by the faculty from the upper ten per cent of the September, February and June graduating classes, based upon the grade averages at the end of the fifth semester. The election and initiation ceremonies are held during the spring of each year.
--From The Quad, 1957
Details by Year: 1966
List of Years

The Order of the Coif: 1966
 
The most ancient of all honor societies, the Order of the Coif, originally a forensic institution dating back to the thirteenth century in England, evolved out of a tight little group of distinguished jurists who would select new members from the ranks of the apprentices, who had to prove their superior ability by pleading a real action in old Norman French. If these apprentices passed the test, they were initiated by a ceremony not unlike the coronation of royalty; they were awarded the coif, a tight-fitting cap, which was worn constantly, even in royal presence. Judges were taken only from the Order.
Today, the Order of the Coif is a national law school honor society, founded for the purposes of encouraging legal scholarship and advancing the ethical standards of the legal profession. Its members are selected by the faculty from the upper ten per cent of the September, February and June graduating classes, based upon the grade averages at the end of the fifth semester. The election and initiation ceremonies are held during the spring of each year.
The Order began honoring another type of excellence: legal writing. The Triennial Coif Award is $1,000 for writing which "evidences creative talent of the highest order". The 1964 recipient was Professor Brainerd Currie of Duke University, author of Selected Essays on the Conflict of Laws.
--From the Quad, 1966
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