30th Anniversary Barristers' Ball

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Photos courtesy of WMU-Cooley Law School

Judge Aquilina shares thoughts as featured speaker

Judge Rosemarie E. Aquilina, most recently recognized for her role sentencing former MSU and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar in Ingham County Circuit Court, was the featured speaker during the WMU-Cooley Law School Student Bar Association’s 30th Anniversary Barristers’ Ball.

Speaking to a full room of WMU-Cooley law students and graduates, and members of the Lansing legal community, Aquilina shared words of wisdom about the importance of legal education in today’s society and the ability for those in the legal field to speak out for what is ethically right.

“By now you know that I am not shy to speak my mind. I never have been. I have heard from you that career-wise you want to be me. I say, you don’t need to be me. In fact, I know you will be better than me.
Why? Because your education and awareness is so much better than mine when I was in your place so many years ago. You’ve been exposed to so much more. There is change on the horizon and you now have the ability to have a stronger voice. So I know you will be better than I am,” Aquilina said.

 While sharing many of her experiences before being elected to the bench, she noted that it is important for attorneys to always be professional.

 “I never succumbed to having a tantrum in the courtroom before the bench, even when my client wanted me to have a bigger tantrum than opposing counsel,” said Aquilina. “Loud and disrespectful does not win cases. Professionalism always prevails. It makes the voice of your client louder and stronger, not weaker. Your client’s voice matters. I have never sought to be the loudest voice, I have sought to be the right voice.”

 Before being elected to the 30th Circuit Court in 2008, Aquilina served as a 55th District Court judge for four years, during which time she served as Chief Judge as well as the Sobriety Court Judge. Aquilina is an adjunct professor at WMU-Cooley Law School where she teaches Family Law, Advanced Trial Practice-Family Law, Legislative Process, Defending Battered Women, Animal Law, Child Abuse and Neglect and Elder Law.

Each year at the Barristers’ Ball, members of the Student Bar Association announce a local non-profit to be the beneficiary of a portion of the proceeds from Barristers’ Ball. This year, the organizations selected Haven House. Haven House is a nonprofit organization in East Lansing that provides emergency housing and support services for one-parent and two-parent families with children.