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Welcome to Our Latest 1L Class

September 9, 2016

Our newest 1L class brings a rich and varied background to CUNY Law and their legal careers.

In addition to speaking 26 languages, this class of 190 full- and part-time students has worked for such organizations as a youth mission in South Africa, Refugees and Communities of Color and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In what has become a CUNY Law tradition, the 1L class completed their orientation with a day at the courts and a recitation of the lawyer’s pledge. The students sat in on numerous cases at six different courts in Manhattan, where they examined the styles and approaches of both lawyers and judges.

The new 1L class met with Dean Bilek and heard inspiring words from both the dean and Judge Ronald Ellis during their daylong visit to the courts as part of their orientation. One of Judge Ellis' interns is a CUNY Law alum.

The new 1L class met with Dean Bilek and heard inspiring words from both the dean and Judge Ronald Ellis during their daylong visit to the courts as part of their orientation. One of Judge Ellis’ interns is a CUNY Law alum. (Photos: Corky Lee)

CUNY Law originated the daylong visit to the courts more than 20 years ago, as part of orientation. The purpose is “to introduce them to the practice in action in a number of different forums—housing, family, civil, criminal, and commercial—and to see the differing styles of attorneys and judges,” explained Stephanie McGregor, associate director of the career planning office. Career planning organizes the event.

In the Ceremonial Courtroom, the students heard from Judge Ronald Ellis, U.S. Magistrate for the Southern District of New York, who delivered the lawyer’s pledge, and CUNY Law’s new dean Mary Lu Bilek.

Dean Bilek asked about the differences the students saw in how the lawyers interacted with their clients and recounted her first experiences in the courtroom. She highlighted the critical role lawyers play in intervening in people’s lives before a crisis hits.

Imagine, she said, if a person receiving an eviction notice had access to a lawyer when the first notice arrived. The lawyer could help figure out a solution at the onset, versus after the final notice, and the person lands in court, often without legal representation.

Judge Ellis echoed many of Dean Bilek’s sentiments.

“Lawyers should be the shining example of individuals making the system better to stand between the little guy and the oppressor,” he told the students.

Having delivered the orientation convocation speech to CUNY’s incoming 1Ls for nearly 20 years, Judge Ellis admitted his affinity for CUNY Law. During his time on the bench, he has had 54 CUNY Law students serve as interns and hired nine as his law clerks, including 2015 graduate Emily Farrell who introduced him at the ceremony.

At CUNY Law, Judge Ellis told the students, “you have joined a community where the faculty is not only first rate, it’s made up of individuals who are experienced, dedicated and caring.”

Just before raising their hands to take the lawyer’s pledge, Judge Ellis left the new classes of 2019 and 2020 with a final charge: “Your mission is to take on that mantel that looks to the common good. …When you have striven and done your best to make our justice system just that—just—you will make the legal profession better.”

 

Related Categories: Alumni News, Breaking, General News, Spotlight, Student News

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