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Dean Mark West Welcomes Class of 2018 to Michigan Law

Dean Mark West Welcomes Class of 2018 to Michigan Law

By Lori Atherton
August 27, 2015

"This isn't just any law school, this is Michigan. This place, these people, will change you," Michigan Law Dean Mark West told the Class of 2018 during his welcome address August 26.

Michigan Law is an environment in which students can thrive and have fun, West said, though it is expected that they be diligent and work hard. "Be fully prepared for each class, understand both the position you think you take and the strongest arguments against your position, and understand the real-world implications of those diametrically opposed positions," he advised the 267 incoming 1Ls.

The law is about more than rules and clever arguments, West noted, and students will soon discover that "law is incredibly disorderly. It reflects society and culture, and in a diverse society and in a diverse world, law is necessarily imprecise. It reflects the really thorny issues of race, class, sex, gender, social status, and other aspects of identity. A huge gulf exists between the precise words of the law and the imprecise environment in which they function."

Effective lawyering, he said, requires three important skills: creativity, humility, and care. "The first—creativity—requires you to put together facts, rules, and interpretations from disparate areas of the law, and to find solutions that do not easily leap off a page," he said. "As a lawyer, you'll be called upon to find innovative solutions for seemingly intractable problems. Second, lawyering requires humility and the ability to set one's self aside for a bit and serve a client. Our profession, at its core, is a service industry. Learn to serve humbly. Third, lawyering requires care. Your words matter. Be careful with them, and be careful with the other tools of lawyering that you will develop here."

West challenged students during these next three years to value their relationships with family and friends and to continue doing the things they did before law school. "Be your authentic self, whatever that may be," he said.

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