Monday Morning Message 6.3.19 The Most Important Question a Law School Applicant Can Ask

Posted 2019-06-03 10:48am

“Years ago I got two gifts from my sister: a money jar, which stated on the side "Legal Funds" and a mug, which stated on the side "If your dreams don't scare you, they aren't big enough." Well, my dream of becoming a licensed attorney in America, when in 2005 I didn't even speak English was scary, and of course my "Legal Fund" jar, even when filled, could not cover the law school tuition. But the dream was there, the will to work hard to achieve it was there too, and then CMLAW took care of the rest. 

I wanted you to know how grateful I am for the education I received. All the professors, librarians, and support staff who probably are "just" doing their job day in and day out, contributed in some way to my success of finishing law school (magna cum laude) and passing the bar. CMLAW is truly a place where dreams come true. I am living proof of that.” - Erika Molnar ‘18

Recruiting talented students for our Fall 2019 class remains our highest priority as we enter the final days before our June 15 deposit deadline.

As I reflect back on this past academic year, I am reminded that the most important question an applicant can – and should- ask before deciding which law school to attend is “what do the current students and recent graduates say about the law school?”

Not a week goes by without me receiving at least one email from a current student or recent graduate expressing their appreciation for a faculty member, staff member, or an alumnus. Here’s a recent sampling of emails about our outstanding faculty:

Current Students (note: my general practice is not to identify the names of current students)

“Professor [Michael] Borden -I just wanted to take a minute and thank you for all the support you have provided me this year. It was your words and encouragement that motivated me to continue this rigorous process despite the struggles of balancing home responsibilities, school, and receiving the disappointing grades of first semester. I am happy to inform you that this semester I received a 3.78 (all As). I really cannot stress enough how much you believing in me pushed me forward. Thank you very much.”

“Professor [Reggie] Oh- I just wanted to thank you so much for teaching Con Law to us this past year….I entered the course indifferent to the topic. But I had the best time learning from you and I really appreciated your teaching style. I found the course absolutely fascinating! Thanks for such an enjoyable experience!”

“Professor [Joe] Mead- On behalf of the 2LE class at Cleveland-Marshall, I want to thank you for our incredible Civil Procedure course this past semester with you. Your passion for the law and our education made us strive to be better students and future lawyers. We hope we can make you proud in the future, because you inspired us every day. We look forward to future classes with you.”

Recent Graduates

Professor [Sandra] Kerber - I am so excited and happy to have you as my mentor.  I am claiming you as my mentor not only during bar prep, but for life. You have been a blessing to me this entire time.  I am forever grateful and indebted to you. One of my greatest law school blessings was to have you as my legal writing professor.  The way you taught us, directed us, and pushed us, shaped and will continue to shape our legal career and future success. Someone cannot succeed as an attorney without good writing skills. Also, you were always available to listen and encourage.  Thank you for all you have done and continue to do.” -Diana Nassar ’19

Thank you for a memorable, lovely graduation ceremony. I was a non-traditional student and I nearly dropped out after my first semester.  As you know, I’m a full-time police officer, and at age 35, being back in school was a culture shock and I felt over my head.  But I did not quit, and I hope CMLAW is proud to have me as a part of the alum family.  In my police uniform, I truly do my best to embrace the Live Justice motto every day. My family and friends all enjoyed and were very impressed by the graduation ceremony…. I must mention a handful of instructors who stood out in my coursework:

Ken Kowalski took me under his wing after I had a rocky first year and gently encouraged me to use my strengths to set myself apart from my classmates.  He is witty, challenging, and tremendously supportive of students’ efforts.  Professor K expertly teaches students how to apply the concepts they have learned into real work in practice.  He was a big reason I didn’t give up.  I marvel at how he handles his constant workload and always makes time for an email or a chat. 

April Cherry is a warm, brilliant instructor who really has her finger on the pulse of her students’ capabilities.  She explained thoroughly complex, abstract, sometimes otherwise dry topics, and with humor, brought them to life.  I am always wary of online courses, but her Estates and Trusts online course was the most thorough, thought-through course I have ever taken, and I learned so much! 

Patricia Falk and Kevin O’Neill are two professors I wish I had in my first year of classes.  They are both astoundingly clear, organized, and prepared in the classroom and, while they have high expectations at exam time, are very fair about giving students the resources they need.  Both professors offer ample office hours and are extremely responsive to email questions and concerns.  They are, like Professors Kowalski and Cherry, modest, good-humored, and accessible.

My mother is a retired John Carroll University professor (and a Project 60 student at CM!) and I grew up in the culture of academia.  I have great affection for teachers who embrace their role as educators.  Professors Kowalski, Cherry, Falk, and O’Neill are four extraordinary instructors, all deserving of applause.” - Mary Grace Tokmenko ‘19

….I tell everyone who asks, this is my absolute dream job and I have you and everyone at Cleveland-Marshall to thank for it….Thank you for helping me achieve my dream of being an IP attorney at Cleveland’s premier IP firm, and thank you for making my alma mater a better place.

First, I wanted to let you know how wonderful Professor Heidi Robertson is. As an educator during my property course, I learned so much thanks to her passion and energy she brought every day. Further, her work in her bar prep role is extremely unique and valuable. I don’t think our class would have done as well as we did on the bar without Professor Robertson’s initiatives.

Second, I wanted to echo everyone’s praise of Professor Kevin O’Neill. I felt most prepared for Evidence on the bar exam due to his teaching in class. The kindness he exudes each and every day has a lasting effect on all of his students, and CMLAW is better because of it. Professor O’Neill was my bar prep advisor and there were so many times he would reach out to me to give me advice. He would also give me pep talks whenever I saw him in the law school and would wave to me (as would so many other teachers) while I sat in my seat right near the windows on the atrium level of library for what felt like 20 hours a day!

Finally, I have to commend Professor Steve Lazarus. Professor Lazarus is the reason I succeeded in law school. From my first ever class in law school during orientation week with Professor Lazarus, learning about what on earth a tort was, I connected with him. I cannot describe what it is that clicked with me in his courses, but something did. I would find myself excited to go to his class, do his reading assignments, and even study/take his quizzes that so many of my classmates dreaded. Whatever I was doing to succeed in his class, I tried to duplicate in my other classes. I think I took 6 courses with him during my time, and if I was able, I would have taken more.

On a personal level, Professor Lazarus also had a profound impact upon me. The summer going into 3L year, I was slated to take a summer course with Professor Lazarus. The week before it was set to start, my now fiancé Megan was diagnosed with a brain tumor. I was distraught and sent him an email letting him know I may not be able to take the class. His response provided me with guidance, assurance, and what I needed most, compassion. Throughout the next year, Professor Lazarus would ask me how she was doing, which just filled me with a feeling of comfort I cannot explain to this day. He’s a wonderful educator, scholar, and most importantly, person. I’m honored to have studied under him for 3 years.

Professor Lazarus, and the teachers at CMLAW, are what made me choose to enroll there almost 4 years ago. They’re part of what separates us from other law schools in the area, most notably my undergraduate school, CWRU. I tell friends, family, and those thinking about law school to give CMLAW serious consideration because of the professors and the connections it helps forge….. I owe so much to you and CMLAW as a whole, so if there’s absolutely any way I can help give back (mentoring, help on building CMLAW’s IP program, fundraising, speaking with prospective students, etc.) do not hesitate to let me know. Thank you so much for everything, and keep up the good work. With your guidance and leadership, CMLAW will transform from a law school on the rise, to a law school that has risen to the pinnacle.” - Dustin Likens ’18, Associate, Calfee

This Week’s Monday Moment: The 5 Types of Mentors You Need in Your Life

Have a great day. Have a great week.

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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,


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