Honor Code: District judge administers oath to new law students


– Photos by John Meiu

Also on May 4, WMU-Cooley hosted a State Bar of Michigan Professionalism in Action Orientation for incoming students. Numerous judges and lawyers from metropolitan Detroit gave up their afternoons to meet in pairs with small groups of six to eight students each to discuss real-life ethics and professionalism issues that the students may confront as lawyers.  Among those participating in the May 4 program were (front row, left to right) WMU-Cooley Auburn Hills campus Assistant Dean Lisa Halushka, Syeda Davidson, Paul Monicatti, Jim Derian, and Daniel Bates; along with (back row, left to right) Christine Stephens, Jeffrey May, Oakland County 52-2 District Court Judge Kelly Kostin, Steven Drakos, and Oakland County 52-1 District Court Judge Travis Reeds.

During orientation at Western Michigan University Cooley Law School’s Auburn Hills campus, incoming students not only learn where the classrooms are located and who their professors are, but they are exposed to the importance of ethics and professionalism in the legal profession.

Oakland County 52-1 District Court Judge David Law administered the WMU-Cooley honor code oath to incoming law students during the school’s orientation program on May 4. Additionally, in cooperation with the State Bar of Michigan, the new law students participated in the WMU-Cooley Professionalism in Action program. During the program, students had the opportunity to speak with attorneys and judges from the community about law school expectations as well as ethics and professionalism issues facing today’s lawyers.

Before administering the oath, Law spoke to the new students about the importance of ethics and the need to improve the legal profession and maintaining its reputation.

“As I look at so many new, potential lawyers, I am reminded of the phrase ‘to whom much has been given, much is expected.’ You need to expect more of yourself than anyone else. As lawyers, you are expected to be shining examples of ethical behavior,” said Law. “I hope that each of you accept the challenge to improve the status of our legal profession. The legal profession’s most valuable asset is its collective reputation and the confidence that reputation inspires.”

Law, who served in Michigan’s House of Representatives, was appointed to the bench in 2015 by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder. His legal career includes work in private practice for the firm Sills, Law, Essad, Fielder, and Charboneau PC, where he specialized in family law and civil practice. He then served as an assistant Oakland County prosecutor, working extensively in Oakland County district and circuit courts. Law also worked as an assistant attorney general for the Michigan Department of the Attorney General, where he represented the Michigan Department of Human Services, trying cases of child abuse and neglect.

State Bar of Michigan President Donald Rockwell joined local judges and attorneys during the Professionalism in Action program. Legal professionals who shared their experiences and talked about ethics with the incoming students included Syeda Davidson of Burgess, Sharp, and Golden PLLC; Paul Monicatti, mediator and arbitrator;  James Derian of Michigan Arbitration and Mediation; Daniel Bates of Daniel Bates PC; Christine Stephens of Stephens Family Law; Jeffrey May of Kerr, Russell, & Weber PLC; Oakland County 52-2 District Court Judge Kelley R. Kostin; Steven Drakos of Law Office of Steven A. Drakos; Oakland County 52-1 District Court Judge Travis Reeds; and David T. Tirella of McKeen & Associates PC.

Rockwell closed the program by telling students, “The best lawyers I know are the most ethical lawyers.”


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