Monday Morning Message 8.24.20 Meet the Class of 2023!

Posted 2020-08-24 9:33am

“Get ready to embark on a wild ride unlike anything you’ve ever experienced, packed with thrills, chills, and probably a few spills. Being a 1L will challenge you like you’ve never been challenged….. The first year of law school will be one of the hardest years of your life. Law school will profoundly alter the way you think, and view and interact with the world around you. Your 1L experience will change who you are, whether you want it to or not. “  Andrew McClurg, 1L of a Ride, A Well-Traveled Professor's Roadmap to Success in the First Year of Law School

Today is the first day of classes, and last week we welcomed our first year class for orientation. They are pursuing their dream by living, working, and studying a few years of their life like most people won’t, so they can spend the rest of their life like most people can’t.

Thanks to the very hard, unrelenting work of our cross-department admissions team led by Assistant Dean Barbara Andelman, we enrolled a class of 140. I also want to thank the other members of the team: Gina Huffman, Jill Johnson, Amy Miller, and Elaine Terman, for their unwavering dedication to bringing in these 140 talented first-year students.

This is the third consecutive year we have enrolled 140 or more new students, a 40% increase in enrollment since 2016. This year was particularly challenging because the March and April LSAT exams were cancelled because of Covid-19. As a result, we were recruiting and admitting students as late as mid-August.

Our first year J.D. class comes from 55 different colleges and universities and 15 states. Their average age is 24. 17 are the first college graduate in their family. 14 have graduate degrees. 18 are part-time students.

Special thanks to Associate Dean Carolyn Broering-Jacobs and Professor Deborah Geier who worked very closely with Assistant Dean Andelman.  Professor Geier is Chair of the Legal Career Opportunity Program (LCOP) Committeea highly selective program for students whose credentials are lower than we prefer for admission but whose files show the promise of great success and have demonstrated strong academic ability and writing proficiency.

Thanks to the efforts of Julie DiBiasio, Director of Graduate Studies and Professional Development, and Professors John Plecnik, Brian Ray, and Milena Sterio, we also enrolled 23 Master of Legal Studies (MLS) students and 8 LL.M. students, a significant increase in our “non-JD” enrollment over past years. In addition, we are projecting that we will enroll 10 new online Cybersecurity MLS students.

Orientation Week

We just completed our very successful first-year Orientation organized by a team led by Associate Dean and Professor Carolyn Broering-Jacobs.

The physical distancing and remote operations necessitated by Covid-19 made Orientation this year different, but no less impactful. We connected with each student individually, introduced them to the resources and people who will support them in their journey, and gave them a taste of both in-class learning and legal practice.

On Tuesday evening, after Associate Dean Broering-Jacobs, Assistant Dean Andelman and I gave our welcome remarks, every member of the class was introduced by a fellow classmate, a special opportunity for every member of the class to get to know something about each other.

Consistent with our June 11, 2020 Call to Action and our ongoing commitment to racial justice, the students participated in the first of a two-part Implicit Bias training in which the students engaged in robust discussions of race, racism, prejudice and privilege.

I am especially grateful for the hardworking faculty, staff, and students who, in ways large and small, came together to welcome our new students. Special thanks to:

  • Nick DeSantis, Director of Academic Support, and the team that helped him with JumpStart – a seven-part series designed to introduce students to the skills needed to succeed in law school, so successful that we made it mandatory for our 1Ls this year.
  •  Sarah Beznoska, Assistant Dean for Student and Career Services, and Jaime Gay, Assistant Director, for organizing the first-ever virtual student organization fair to introduce new students to our many student organizations, for a very thorough introduction to Student Services, and for kicking off a Peer Mentor program in which new students are matched one-to-one with upper-level students.
  •  Professor Doron Kalir and Rick ZhangSystems/Web Administrator, for their work in hosting an oral argument with Ohio’s Eighth District Court of Appeals. Thanks also goes to Deputy Court Administrator, Bridget O’Brien ’01, who managed all of the logistics on the Court’s side. And, of course, we are most grateful to the three-judge panel: Judge Patricia Blackmon ’75, Judge Mary J. Boyle ‘89, and Judge Sean Gallagher ’89.
  • Our legal writing faculty – Professors Sandra Kerber, Karin Mika, Claire Robinson May, and Brandon Stump – who, every year, start teaching during Orientation week, so that the first-year students get a preliminary introduction to both the legal system and the law school classroom.
  •  Professors David Forte and Kevin O’Neill, along with Judge Patricia Blackmon, who spoke with students about civil discourse and the importance of listening in our work to pursue justice.
  •  Our Student Success team – Professor Heidi Gorovitz Robertson, Nick DeSantis, Academic Support Specialist Michelle Bond, and Director of Bar Preparation Mary Jane McGinty – who presented a session on the many resources available to support students’ academic and bar exam success.
  • The 40 faculty and staff who volunteered to meet with our first-year students in small groups to start to get to know the students on a more personal level.
  • Our Library team – led by Professor Lauren Collins – for working tirelessly over the last several weeks to reconfigure our library spaces to create a safe environment for students coming into the building this week for the first time since March.
  •  Associate Dean Jonathan Witmer-Rich, Rick Zhang, and Eric Domanski, Systems/Data Administrator, for their work in setting up and testing our classrooms, so that in-person and remote instruction can happen simultaneously.
  • Jill Natran for her work in getting our building ready for students, faculty, and staff.

Welcome to the Class of 2023!

See Welcome Message from CSU President Harlan Sands

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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