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High Schoolers Learn About MLaw During Dores McCree Day

By John Masson
April 4, 2013

It's hard to come up with an appropriate way to honor someone like Dores McCree, who did so much for so many minority students attending Michigan Law.

But the Law School's Black Law Students Alliance figured out just the thing. This year's Dores McCree Day, held for the first time in several years over the Easter weekend, aimed, like Dores herself, to encourage students of color to consider careers in the law.

McCree, who died in 2010 at the age of 90, was known to generations of Michigan Law students as a mentor, a career counselor, and sometimes even as a sort of second mother. Her connections to Michigan Law ran deep. The wife of Michigan Law Prof. Wade H. McCree Jr.—a former U.S. Solicitor General and Wayne County, U.S. District Court, and federal appeals court judge—Dores McCree's original mission at the Law School was to "fill a void in the area of minority affairs," according to a profile in a 1989 edition of Law Quadrangle Notes.

The role soon grew, as Dores McCree recruited minority students, helped identify employment opportunities, and worked on other projects at the Law School.

(View an image gallery of the event.)

But it was her human touch that especially endeared her to generations of students of color who knew they could count on her love, support, and comfort while they made the sometimes difficult transition to law school.

Part of her job here was helping minority students on campus find success in the classroom and feel comfortable on campus," said 1L Emerson Girardeau, one of the organizers of the tribute. "And at the time, it could be difficult for minority students to get comfortable in a new environment."

This year's event invited high school students from Ann Arbor, Detroit, Flint, and Ypsilanti to the Law School for a tour, a mock class, and special speakers.

The mock class with Michigan Law Prof. Sherman Clark—complete with cold-calls—was especially well-received by the students, Girardeau said. Part of the reason, he added, was that Clark spent a significant part of the class reminding the students that they, too, could become lawyers—or anything else they set their minds to.

"The cold-calling was entertaining, but I think more than anything else the kids really enjoyed that class," he said.

Later, Saul Green, '72, the former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, sat down with the students and talked about his background and the importance of the work lawyers do. He also talked at length about Dores McCree's unique Michigan Law legacy, and what she meant and still means to the Law School community.

All in all, it was a fitting tribute to a woman who dedicated herself to serving an institution she loved—and the students she loved even more.

"It's clear that a lot of the faculty who are still here had a deep love for Dores McCree," Girardeau said. "She was just really revered."

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