Monday Morning Message 11.23.20 Thankful for Resilience.

Posted 2020-11-23 10:00am

“We need resilience and hope and a spirit that can carry us through the doubt and fear.”– Brené Brown

There will be far too many empty chairs at dinner tables this Thanksgiving. Those empty chairs remind us that this pandemic is far from over and we must remain both vigilant and resilient.

I want to express my gratitude for the exceptional perseverance, flexibility, and adaptability of our law students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends these past nine extraordinary months.

Living, working, teaching, learning, and studying has never been harder, but we saw this past weekend a great example of how our students’ resilience can prevail in the midst of unprecedented challenges.

I’m very proud to share the recent success this past Saturday of our national award-winning C|M|LAW Moot Court Team, our law school’s appellate advocacy competition team.

Our Moot Court Team of Oliva Gipson, Izaak Horstemeier-Zrnich (Moot Court Chair) and Lauryn Robinson (pictured below), all 3Ls who will graduate in May 2021, won first place in the regional competition of the New York Bar Association’s first-ever virtual National Moot Court Competition!

We competed against law schools from Ohio, Michigan and Kentucky including Ohio State and Case Western Reserve University. Olivia, Izaak, and Lauryn went a perfect 4-0 in competition and they were the highest seeded team throughout the competition! Our team will represent our region at the national competition in early February.  

I also want to thank Caitlin Hill ’14 (Judicial Attorney for Justice Melody J. Stewart of the Supreme Court of Ohio) and Alex Reich ’09 (Calfee) for their suburb leadership as our Moot Court Team Co-Directors, and Ciera Colon ’15 (Jones Day), Mike Pelagalli ’15 (Coakley Lammert), and Grayson Keith Sieg ’15 (Jones Day) for their excellent work as our Moot Court Team coaches. Ciera, Mike, and Grayson were teammates in ’13-14 and ’14-15. As students, they were coached by other dedicated alums, and as soon as they graduated, they asked to start coaching to pay it forward. Thanks also to Moot Court Team Faculty Advisor, Associate Dean and Professor Carolyn Broering-Jacobs.

I should note that winning national competitions is not new for us. Earlier this year, our Thurgood Marshall Moot Court Team won the Thurgood Marshall Midwest Regional Competition, our third regional Thurgood Marshall championship in the past 4 years.

Last November, at this exact same time, our award-winning Trial Advocacy Team participated in the annual “Case Classic Mock Trial Competition”, an annual invitational trial advocacy competition which consisted of 18 teams from 7 law schools. Cleveland-Marshall earned first place, and had the only team that went undefeated.

I believe that the single most important skill we teach at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law at Cleveland State University is the ability to step outside the constraints of your own immediate, biased frames of reference and to see every problem, challenge, and opportunity with the resilience of new eyes and a new attitude.

As Wayne Dyer said, “if you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

Our students are perfecting their written and oral communication skills by learning how to argue not only for a position with which they agree but also for one with which they personally disagree.  Some people start an argument by staking their position and refusing to budge, an impulse that Dr. Amy Cuddy calls “dropping the anchor.” We must recognize the value of asking rather than telling, of listening to each other’s answers instead of jumping to conclusions.

At a time when political polarization has reached new heights and political discourse has reached new lows, it’s never been more important to teach and train a new generation of resilient leaders who have the courage and skill to listen, learn, and understand before they speak, advocate, and lead.

Let us give thanks to each other on this Thanksgiving for resilience; it is our resilience that will give us the strength to work together for a future of listening, understanding, civility, and a search for truth and common ground.

This week’s Monday Moment:  Congratulations to Michael Muha'11 who was elected Commissioner of the City of Hermitage in Mercer County, Pennsylvania. He was inadvertently omitted from last week’s list of alumni who were elected to public office on November 3, 2020.

Stay safe. Stay healthy. Stay Committed to Living Justice.

Have a great day. Have a great week.

For copies of past messages, please go to this link: Monday Morning Messages

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My views in all my Monday Morning Messages are my personal views alone and do not reflect the views of our law school or our university.

My best,


Lee Fisher
Dean, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law 
| Cleveland State University
Joseph C. Hostetler-BakerHostetler Chair in Law

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