Monday Morning Message 8.26.19 A new year and rising excellence

Posted 2019-08-26 10:54am


 “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. 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 Admissions Committee Chair Associate Dean and Professor Carolyn Broering-Jacobs, and our faculty, alumni, and students, as well as the generosity of our many scholarship donors and the Cleveland-Marshall Alumni Association (CMLAA), this is our largest first year class in 8 years!

Given the national decline in law school enrollment that began in 2010-2011, my predecessor, Dean Craig Boise, and our faculty wisely intentionally reduced the size of the first year class in 2012 and stabilized the class size for a few years. However, there was an alarming 23% decrease in enrollment in 2015 that was not intentional; when I arrived in June 2016, we were projecting an August 2016 first year class of only 85 students.

At that point, we knew that we had to adopt an entirely different approach to admissions, especially because law school applications were projected to continue to decrease or, at best, remain flat nationally. We began changing our admissions approach in 2016-17, and last year we dramatically changed our admissions effort. We increased fundraising for student scholarships and initiated our first-ever integrated, cross-disciplinary team recruitment, admissions, and enrollment effort led by Associate Dean Broering-Jacobs, which produced a record-setting 30% increase in enrollment even though applications were up only 4%.

This year we took our new team effort to an even higher level by engaging more staff, faculty, students, and alumni in our proactive, personalized admissions initiative than ever before. Our unprecedented cross-department admissions team broke down silos and met weekly for many months, bringing together staff from different departments to join in a focused, strategic team effort.

I also want to thank Professor Deborah Geier and her committee colleagues for her work as Chair of the Legal Career Opportunity Program (LCOP) Committee, a 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.

This month we enrolled 144 J.D. students, a 44% increase in enrollment since 2016, when I first joined the Cleveland-Marshall family. We accomplished this despite the fact that applications were up only 12% this year. In fact, we actually increased our academic standards of admission at the same time we increased our enrollment, which is very difficult to accomplish. In addition, we welcomed 6 transfer students, 6 new Master of Legal Studies students and 2 new LL.M. students.

Our first year J.D. class is not only a very talented class but also one of the most diverse classes in many years. Our 144 J.D. students come from 62 different colleges and universities, 15 states, and one Canadian province. The class is 50% female, 50% male. The average age is 25. 10% have graduate degrees. 20% are part-time students. 8 are married and they have 24 children among them.

Orientation Week

On the first evening of orientation week, our students heard from CSU President Harlan Sands who recounted his career as a young lawyer. President Sands noted that everywhere he goes in Cleveland he meets a graduate of Cleveland-Marshall College of Law!

Law School Deans used to say to first year students, “Look to your left. Look to your right. One of you will not be here next year.” I told our first year students a very different message. “Look to your left. Look to your right. The classmates you see will be friends and colleagues for life.”

After my remarks, we had a reception at which every member of the first year class was matched with an alumni mentor. Each student received a pack of personalized business cards, our gift to commemorate the official start of their journey into the legal profession.

Orientation included an oral argument in an actual criminal case in our Moot Court Room before the 8th District Ohio Court of Appeals with Judge Patricia Blackmon ‘75(Member, C|M|LAW Hall of Fame)Judge Sean Gallagher ’89, and Judge Frank Celebrezze, Jr. ’83.

Our first year students also visited the headquarters of Flexjet and Nextant Aerospace, two of the nine aviation companies led by CEO Kenn Ricci '86

(Member, C|M|LAW Hall of Fame). Kenn told the remarkable success story of his companies and spoke about the critical thinking skills he learned as a law student at Cleveland-Marshall. The students also heard from members of his senior executive team.

On Friday afternoon, Jim Ferrell, Managing Partner of the Arbinger Institute, led a 4-hour workshop on leadership and the need for an “outward mindset,” sponsored by our P. Kelly Tompkins Leadership and Law Program.

On Friday evening I told the story of Emily Pomeranz ‘95 and the Milkshake Mission Impossible story. Emily passed away in 2017 after a long battle against cancer. Just prior to her death, her friend Sam Klein visited Emily in hospice, and asked her if she needed anything. She said that she wished she could have one more mocha milkshake from the iconic restaurant, Tommy's, on Coventry Rd. in Cleveland Hts. Knowing that she couldn’t travel to Cleveland, Sam sent a message to the general information email address on Tommy’s website, asking if there was a way to get a milkshake from Cleveland Heights to Arlington, Virginia.

A few days later, Sam got a call from Tommy Fello, the owner of Tommy’s. “Yes. We will figure out a way to do this,” he said. Tommy Fello shipped a carefully packed Tommy’s mocha milkshake to Emily. Emily was surprised and thrilled. She talked about it for days and days to friends and family. Emily’s story went viral on social media and touched the hearts of millions. Thanks to the generosity of Tommy Fello, I gave each first-year J.D. student a milkshake gift certificate from Tommy’s. In honor of Emily, I asked them to build strong friendships and find joy in small pleasures. This year, Tommy’s was named the best milkshake in Ohio by USA Today.

Special thanks to Associate Dean and Professor Carolyn Broering-Jacobs who organized a great orientation week. My thanks to the many 2L, 3L, and 4LE (part-time) students, faculty, and staff who participated throughout the week.

 *This Week’s Monday Moment: An Outward Mindset for an Inward World- Jim Ferrell

  Have a great day. Have a great week.

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

Subscribe to Dean's Monday Morning Message

Subscribe to C|M|Law Newsletter

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,


  • Share