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Commitment to Integrity 2013

Judge Bids MLaw Class of 2016 to Start Student Careers with Integrity

By Jenny Whalen
Sept. 3, 2013

The practice of integrity is not limited to a student's law school career, United States Judge David McKeague of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals counseled first-year Michigan Law students Aug. 30.

"Integrity, honor, and truth do matter a great deal in our profession," he added. "You're now the public face of this law school. Think before you act and apply the judgment that got you here."

A 1971 Michigan Law graduate, McKeague led students in pledging their commitment to integrity in a ceremony that has been a part of the Law School's orientation for new students since 2009.

In part using the words of Michigan Law benefactor William W. Cook, whose bequest built the Law Quad, the pledge reminds students that the future of the country is, in many ways, tied to the integrity of the legal profession.

To reinforce the point, each student at the ceremony receives a hardback copy of the U.S. Constitution, thanks to the generosity of 1959 graduate John Butler Schwemm.

Echoing elements of the oath itself, which bids the speaker to maintain the highest standards of academic, professional, and personal conduct, McKeague encouraged students to take care developing their characters and setting the right tone for their law school careers.

A promise to maintain the highest standards of academic conduct, for example, is not merely a pledge to not cheat or plagiarize, McKeague said, but a willingness to form relationships with fellow students, seek out a faculty mentor, and take advantage of Michigan Law's numerous experiential learning opportunities.

He referenced modern-day social media mishaps as an example of what can happen when integrity slips, and personal conduct taints professional life.

"Nothing today happens in a vacuum. Be discreet," he advised.

And above all: "Be that person of character. I know that you can and I'm confident that you will."

(View an image gallery of fall orientation.)

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