Author Archives: Terry Carella

Having Difficulty Understanding Legal Mumbo Jumbo? More Push For Plain Language

Did you know that 88 percent of people in the United States have some trouble understanding health information? Or did you think that percentage was higher? Any way you look at it, nobody is surprised by that number, especially WMU-Cooley Professor Christopher Trudeau. Read Professor Trudeau’s Oct. 25, 2016 article ‘The Public Speaks’: one man’s motivation to simplify legal communication‘ in writeclearlyblog.com.
Legal mumbo-jumbo


trudeau_christopherProfessor Christopher Trudeau teaches Torts, Property, and courses in legal research and writing and is a zealous advocate for plain language. He has focused much of his recent research on combating archaic, traditional language in law, health care, government, and business. The Oct. 25, 2016 article leads up to Clarity 2016, and reflects upon what drove Professor Trudeau to initiate a worldwide survey to better understand legal communication.

 

 

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Selling a Haunted House? Legal Experts Give Advice on Scary Business

It’s that time of year. October 31st is hiding around the corner. Halloween and haunted houses. Both scary business. WMU-Cooley Law School Professors give practical advice to home owners with chilling concerns for more than just one day out of the year.

Haunted House

trudeau_christopherWMU-Cooley Professor Christopher Trudeau teaches Stambovsky v. Ackley in his Property I class. The case covers the disclosures of paranormal activity during the sale of a home. Professor Trudeau has also done extensive research on other statutes and laws regarding such cases. For instance, there is a law in Louisiana that requires individuals to disclose whether their house has a reputation of being haunted. Other cases actually cause people to disclose that a house ISN’T haunted as a marketing tool.

“Under Stambovsky, when a homeowner tells others their home is haunted, they would have to disclose this information,” says Professor Trudeau.  “If a home has a reputation, or is known as a haunted house, it will need to be disclosed. The house in the Stambovskycase had both the reputation and the media coverage about it being haunted to require that it be disclosed.”

Professor Renalia DuBose had this to say.

“Depending on how much the seller thinks the home is haunted and the more an individual has publicly spoke about the haunted activities dictates what needs to be disclosed. If it is just some inkling, one would not have to disclose it being haunted. Disclosures vary by the level of certainty of the owner. The more likely an individual thinks a home is haunted, the more likely a disclosure is expected.”

hastings_christopherProfessor Chris Hastings adds that “Under the common law, the familiar rule is “caveat emptor,” which is Latin for “buyer beware,” but many inroads are being made upon that rule, by consumer protection statutes, real estate disclosure laws, and evolution of common law doctrine. Perhaps the new rule is “non-discloser beware,”  or “keep secrets at your own risk.”

As you can see, selling a home can be more than just scary business – especially if you think your home is haunted.

Eerie questions answered by Professor Christopher Trudeau.

Let’s say you believe your home is haunted and you want to sell it, do you have to tell a prospective buyer?
This is different by state or even local ordinance. In most places a home seller would not need to disclose their home is haunted. Various states have stigma statutes, such as, if there was a murder or a person died in the home with HIV. These are not required to be disclosed. It protects the homeowner from having to disclose such things.

Under Stambovsky, would you only have to disclose this information if you’ve previously told others the house is haunted?
Yes, one would have to disclose this information. If a home has a reputation or is known as haunted it will need to be disclosed. The house in Stambovsky had the reputation and has had media coverage about it being haunted.

What about psychologically affected properties?
This will differ by state, but under Stambovsky it depends on what others know and do not know. It would be a positive thing to disclose under good faith.

Would any belief that a home is haunted be covered under that?
Depends on how much the seller thinks it is haunted and the more an individual has publicly spoke about the haunted activities. If it is just some inkling, one would not have to disclose, so it would very on the amount of certainty of the owner. The more likely and individual thinks a home is haunted the more likely a disclosure is expected.

Haunting coverage

Orlando Business Journal – 7 things to know today and what you need to know before selling a haunted house

Detroit Legal News – Cooley professors discuss haunted house law

RIS Media’s housecall – Are There Laws for Selling a Haunted House?

WWMT – Buying a haunted house in West Michigan

WOOD TV – Selling a ‘haunted’ house in Michigan

WOOD News Radio – Selling a ‘haunted’ house in Michigan

WKZO – Selling a Haunted House? Legal Experts Give Advice on Scary Business

WUSF – Scary Thought: Buying A Haunted House In Florida

Grand Rapids Business Journal – Nondisclosure can haunt real estate deals

Newsome Team Realtors – Are There Laws for Selling a Haunted House?

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WMU-Cooley Graduate Andrew Hudson: Path from Teacher to Lawyer Inspired Choice

It made sense for Andrew Hudson, now an assistant attorney general for the Michigan Attorney General’s Office, to go into education for his first career. “My grandfather was a teacher and I had a couple of aunts who were also teachers,” remembered Andrew Hudson about his decision to go into education as an undergrad at Western Michigan University. “I was always good in school and I was someone who tutored classmates. I was in the National Honor Society and I made the logical assumption that because I was good in school, I would be good in teaching or education. And I liked it. I like the process of learning, and I liked school, so I wanted to make a career out of it.”

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ATTENDING WMU A LOGICAL DECISION

It was also a logical decision for Andrew to attend Western. Not only was WMU known for having a great education department, it also happened to be located in his hometown of Kalamazoo, Michigan. “I wanted to be near home. I had grandparents that were elderly and I was helping take care of them. I also wanted an opportunity to work in the local schools where I grew up and went to school, and return for my teaching career.”

“While I was at Western, I actually worked at a local agency with emotionally impaired children and that experience was the real springboard into teaching,” recalled Andrew with a smile. “Working with emotionally impaired kids really helped kick the shyness right out of me! I interned in Kalamazoo Public Schools for a term, then worked for two years in elementary schools, a Catholic school, then a charter school. At the end of my three years, I decided that I needed to reassess teaching as a long-term career, for a variety of reasons. I knew that I was really skilled at the academics, the presentation of the lesson, and the assessment of the children. I was also very good at organizing and delivering the material in the most effective way, but I never found my groove connecting with the kids or the parents. One thing I knew for certain though was that my educational skills and experience would apply to a lot of different jobs that could be a better fit for me.”

DECISION TO ATTEND LAW SCHOOL INSPIRED REASONING

“Looking back, it was strange, I never saw myself as being the lawyer type,” recalled Andrew, “but in my summer breaks, the thing that I loved doing the most was watching court TV. I loved watching trials and watching the lawyers make their arguments and question the witnesses. I liked the structure of it. It was similar to a classroom, in the sense that you had a jury that you were trying to teach the case to. And I thought that was really fascinating. It became clear that my personal evolution and career goals had changed. I felt that being an attorney now was a great fit for me.  I never thought growing up that I would be able to be a lawyer, then suddenly I turned around and now I’m thinking ‘yeah, I can do that.'”

SUCCESS IN LAW SCHOOL ACHIEVED

Not only could he do it, he did it very well.  Andrew graduated second out of 351 students at Western Michigan University Cooley Law School and found he had a real knack for winning Mock Trial competitions. “I was in Mock Trial, which was my main extracurricular activity,” said Andrew. “I was in the first-year Mock Trial competition, and I won. My partner and I won. And I discovered I had a talent for it. I signed up the very next semester for the evidence competition, and won that. Then the following semester I went on to the national team for Mock Trial. I enjoyed it. It was fun. I got to use my teaching skills, in a way, to organize and plan things out, then speak in front of people. It seemed like a natural transition for what I used to do, even though I didn’t realize it at the time.”

PATH FROM LAW SCHOOL TO THE AG’S OFFICE

“During law school, I got an internship at the county prosecutor’s office in the economic crime unit,” said Andrew. “I worked there for about two years while I went to law school. My work with that office allowed me to set up diversion payment programs for misdemeanor fraud defendants. I was also responsible for educating and assisting defendants. I was able to transition from there into more court work. I was doing pre-trial meetings with unrepresented defendants on other cases and actually doing jury trials and bench trials by myself.”

Andrew’s initiative and work ethic didn’t go unnoticed. When he was sworn in to Eaton County court, the judge that swore him in, Judge Calvin Osterhaven,  was so impressed with his résumé that he called him a month later and hired him.  “I enjoyed working for Judge O. for six months knowing that he was looking into retirement. Being a law clerk was definitely a great experience and it was something I was very glad I did, but I knew that I needed to look for other work. I had applied for a job at the AG’s office and they ended up calling me about a month after I got the job as the law clerk. After a couple rounds of interviews,  the AG’s Office called me back for a third interview. They brought me up to the 7th floor and walked me into Bill Schuette’s office. That was my final interview. I was hired.”

WMU-COOLEY STILL IMPRESSES

“The best decision I ever made was to go to law school,” stated Andrew. “I grew up in law school. I didn’t realize how, until I looked back on everything. I had matured a lot during that time and I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that in law school you are kind of on your own to figure out what is best for you, how to study and prepare, and to figure out what extracurricular activities you want to engage in. But at the same time Cooley has got plenty of help for people who need it. And you can take advantage of it to whatever extent you want to. And so that really helped me mature and grow up as a professional. I really did find the perfect job for me after law school. Cooley really had a lot to do with it. I was not your traditional law school student in the sense that I was a little bit older, I had been in one career already, I wasn’t going from undergraduate to law school, and Cooley kind of catered to that sort of thing, the non-traditional pathway. The scholarship offer was, of course, enticing. It was local, but it was also bigger. Cooley, just because of its size, just had more opportunities. I came here on a tour and the facilities were impressive. It was good to see that there were a lot of mechanisms to help you get through law school. They really did want you to succeed. And if you didn’t, it was probably because you didn’t take advantage of all the avenues of help that were out there.”

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Little Girls in Africa Project Inspires Judge and Law Student to Sew Dresses

“We made more than 34,000 dresses in total … our chapter here in Tampa made almost 1,000 … with the help of  people from the community such as Eula Bacon … I do a lot of things here at the court – currently I work with children – but in my life, touching children and families to me has been so important to what I have always worked for. I will probably never meet one of the little girls who will wear one of the dresses, but the ability to touch someone’s life in a meaningful way, to let them know that there are people who care about them and who are invested in their success and interests, is important to me.” – Hon. Barbara Twine-Thomas, 13th Judicial Circuit Judge, Hillsborough County.

Eula T. Bacon is not only a high-energy law student at Western Michigan University Cooley Law School, she is also deeply involved in her community and in serving others. One of her many talents is sewing. And as part of the Little Dresses for Africa project, Eula has, to date, created 17 dresses for little girls in Africa, plus has inspired fellow law students, friends and family to help also.

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“All lawyers are required to do pro bono service,” said Eula, “but lawyers do more than just the community workshops or volunteering to help a client who does not have the funds to pay for services. As a law school student, we can’t practice the law, but I always look for opportunities, and the school provides opportunities for us to go out and help in the legal community.”

And that’s how Eula learned about the Little Dresses for Africa project. She was volunteering at the George Edgecomb Bar Association where Judge Twine-Thomas was a featured panel speaker. After the session, Eula was able to talk with Judge Twine-Thomas. She mentioned to Eula that she was going to go home and start sewing dresses for the project. That conversation sparked an excitement for her to get involved.

“I grew up sewing – my mother taught me how to sew – I asked her what the project was about. And when she said – Sewing. Little girls. Africa. – I thought; Wow, this will be a great project. I just became so excited about it. The dresses are going to little girls in Africa, but when you create the dresses (in the sewing circles that Judge Twine-Thomas created), you have a chance to talk to people in the community and they can see legal professionals as more than just the lawyer. They can see them as human beings and that we care about people and we care about service. I love that part of it.”

Judge Twine-Thomas has served others her entire life. It started long before her service in the legal profession over 40 years ago. As a college student, she became very involved in her Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, and through the sorority most recently, the Little Dresses for Africa project. “Service to all mankind” is the motto of the 200,000 member sorority, and her church’s philosophy is “If you want justice, work for peace.” These two things together, she says, define who she is. Judge Twine-Thomas was so moved by the Little Dresses for Africa Project, that she chairs the Tampa chapter in the global initiative.

“For several successive weeks we met weekly and sewed together,” recalled Judge Twine-Thomas about the Little Dress for Africa Project. “And as we sewed, we talked about our lives, our friendships, our relationships, and slowly the enthusiasm about what we were doing – making dresses for little girls on the other side of earth – was so motivating. Eventually it was infectious. Everybody around us, everybody who heard about the project wanted to be a part of it.”

“I’m involved in a lot of women’s organizations and I believe in empowering woman. When you are empowering women, you are empowering humanity.”

Judge Barbara Twine-Thomas demonstrates to WMU-Cooley student Eula T. Bacon how to make Dresses for Africa out of a pillow case.

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Everyone is a Kid on Cooley for Kids Day!

This July, WMU-Cooley Law School hosted its 16th annual Cooley for Kids Day. It was another sunny, perfect day. Hundred of kids shared in the festivities of the day, including the traditional parade around the outfield, pre-ceremony activities, and an afternoon to relax and take in a Lansing Lugnuts ball game.   

kids

What was unclear was who was having more fun – the kids or the law students! 

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Everything about the day is about the kids. But the fun begins well before the actual day. Kids spend the weeks before Cooley for Kids Day designing amazing and colorful student-made banners, all to be proudly displayed during the walk around the outfield as part of the parade festivities.

Kids are asked early in the summer to write essays for the chance to be selected for the nine-person Dream Team. Winning team members, nine kids and nine law students, get to run together from the dugout to their designated ball player on the field before game start. A child and a law student also get to throw out a first pitch as part of the pre-game celebration. This year, Andrea Woods was the law student who had the privilege to sing the national anthem.

After the Dream Team runs off the field, the children receive a gift bag from WMU-Cooley, then join the rest of the kids to spend the afternoon taking in a Lansing Lugnuts baseball game, which includes lunch and a memento of the day. Law students get to join other faculty and staff in the Owner’s Suite to enjoy the game and lunch, and a well-deserved break from their studies.20160725_114316-COLLAGE

Every year, we look forward to Cooley for Kids Day.  It’s always an amazing, fun time, and we know we can count on a beautiful day with great weather. After all, in 16 years we are batting a thousand!

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Bioethics conference sparks collaboration and important conversations

On March 17 and 18, 2016, Western Michigan University’s Center for the Study of Ethics in Society presented a conference called “Bioethics: Preparing for the Unknown.” WMU-Cooley professors and law students were well-represented among the speakers, presenting on topics such as informed consent, medical quarantines, youth health care, and drug addiction. The conference sparked important conversations surrounding the theme of uncertainty, a fundamental reality in bioethics. The study of bioethics brings to the forefront concepts of right and wrong, good and bad; blending and blurring the areas of philosophy, theology, history, law, and medicine.

(Left to right) WMU-Cooley Professor Lauren Rousseau, WMU President John Dunn, and Elaine Englehardt, professor of philosophy at Utah Valley University

(Left to right) WMU-Cooley Professor Lauren Rousseau, WMU President John Dunn, and Elaine Englehardt, professor of philosophy at Utah Valley University

Many topics were covered, including the unintended consequences of innovative medical technologies, public health planning for new diseases, incidental findings in clinical research and practice, prevention of medical error, and communication of risk.

The conference brought together presenters from around the nation and from many different universities, medical schools, and disciplines. Those universities included Emory, Michigan State, Grand Valley State, Central Michigan, University of Michigan Medical School, Indiana State, Loyola, Purdue, Stetson, Columbia, Utah Valley, Case Western, University of Iowa, University of Texas, University of Maryland, and the University of St. Louis.  Other speaker hailed from The Mayo Clinic, several Canadian universities, and from Sweden. Speakers were faculty experts from medical schools, philosophy professors, and graduate students; experts in communications, bioethics, and genetics, as well as speakers in other disciplines.

“It was so interesting learning about ethical issues that exist with respect to new, cutting-edge medical treatments,” said WMU-Cooley Professor Lauren Rousseau. “Medical research is taking us to a new era of disease treatment, but the cost and limitations of these new treatments force decisions that have ethical implications.” Professor Rousseau presented a paper entitled, “Paradigm Shift: How the Opioid Epidemic is Driving Change in Perception, Treatment, & the Law.”

WMU-Cooley Professor Christopher Trudeau presented a paper entitled, “Ethical Communication in Human-Subjects Research: Creating an Informed Consent That Effectively Communicates Risk and Promotes Personal Autonomy.”

“This was a wonderfully inclusive bioethics conference with a diverse audience,” said Professor Trudeau. “After my session discussing the ethics of communicating with research participants, one of the heads of such trials from the Mayo Clinic helped engage the group in a deeper discussion of how these issues practically impact a world-class research institution.”

Professors Tracey Brame and Devin Schindler of the WMU-Cooley’s Grand Rapids campus presented a paper entitled, “This Medication May Kill You: Cognitive Overload and Mandated Informed Consent.”

“The legal system has not yet caught up to the rapidly changing world of medical technology,” stated Professor Schindler. “This conference gave scholars and students from around the country the opportunity to discuss options for modernizing a legal system not yet well prepared for 21st century technology.”

“The interdisciplinary approach to the topic made for robust conversation among students and professors,” agreed Professor Brame. “The opportunity to collaborate with colleagues from WMU and other schools was invaluable.”

Professor Victoria Vuletich, a board member of the Center for the Study of Ethics in Society which sponsored the event,  facilitated the discussion on informed consent.  “It was invigorating and refreshing to explore the intersection of law and medicine. Representatives of some of finest national medical institutions particpiated in this discussion and their comments were educational and informative.  It always good to have cross-discipline ‘pollination.'”

(Left to right) Conference Coordinator Lindsay Hunter and Professor Sandra Borden, director of the Center for the Study of Ethics in Society

(Left to right) Conference Coordinator Lindsay Hunter and Professor Sandra Borden, director of the Center for the Study of Ethics in Society

In addition to WMU-Cooley law professors, WMU-Cooley law students participated as speakers at the conference. Christopher Marker, a 3L at the Grand Rapids campus, presented a paper entitled, “Quarantining an A-symptomatic Carrier: A Reasonableness Standard.” Holliann Willekes, another 3L at the Grand Rapids campus, presented a paper entitled, “Minors and Health Care.” And both of these law students joined WMU-Cooley Grand Rapids law student Daniel LoBello, and Kineta Sadler, a graduate student from Michigan State University, to participate in a panel discussion entitled, “Bioethics Training for Front Line Medical Providers and Staff: Legal and Ethical Issues.”

Conference attendees and speakers had an opportunity to interact socially at a dinner at the WMU Ethics Center the first night of the conference. WMU President John Dunn was in attendance, as well as a number of WMU professors. The entire event provided a wonderful opportunity for the WMU Cooley faculty and student speakers to interact with faculty and staff from WMU, and to explore ways in which law and bioethics intersect.

 

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Maryam Saleh: Exceptional Work Is Impossible Unless We Are Good People Too

Traditionally, each court hosting an induction ceremony for new attorneys asks the individual performing highest on the Bar exam to speak. This spring, The Hon. Craig C. Villanti, chief judge of the Florida Second District Court of Appeal, invited Maryam Saleh, a recent Western Michigan University Cooley Law School graduate and top Bar performer in the district, to speak on behalf of the attorneys being sworn in that day. The Second District covers 14 counties in five judicial circuits. There are five total District Courts of Appeal in Florida.

We are proud and honored of Maryam and her accomplishments. Below is her speech from May 9, 2016, along with video excerpts about her journey in life, in law school, and what drives her going forward.


Acting Chief Judge, your honors, may it please the court. My name is Maryam Saleh, and I am incredibly honored to stand before you today as a representative of the new class of lawyers being sworn into practice.

When Chief Judge Villanti called me and asked me to speak today, I was so excited I said yes without hesitation. A few days later, I realized what I had gotten myself into — I know they say lawyers love to talk, but I’d much rather make a compelling argument on paper than stand behind a podium and do it, so bear with me if I stumble through the next few minutes.

To my fellow new attorneys — congratulations on knowing enough about UCC-3 and limited partnerships to make it this far. Whether you have dreamt of practicing law your entire life or if becoming an attorney is just one step toward the fulfillment of a larger dream, today is the culmination of several years of hard work and dedication. And we should all be immensely proud of our accomplishments.

A few minutes ago, we made the following pledge: “I will never reject, from any consideration personal to myself, the cause of the defenseless or oppressed.”

This sentence is perhaps the truest embodiment of my journey to the law and my aspirations beyond it.

Being an attorney is the newest chapter in the story of my life, and it was my family history and my religious and moral upbringing that steered my storyline in this direction. I am the daughter of immigrants who, more than 35 years ago, left the politically repressive environment in their home country of Syria and eventually made their way to the United States, where they raised their four daughters to be fearless, proud, driven, and compassionate.

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For as long as I can remember, my father has pushed my sisters and me to excel, confident that if we set our minds to it, we could create lasting change in this world. My mother, whose background is in education, was a pillar of support and encouragement through every step of our academic endeavors and a never-ending source of emotional and spiritual nurturing. With every step we took, my parents reminded us to be mindful of the big picture: we were not working solely for personal accomplishment — the next degree, a new car, or a suburban house — but for the greater good, an admittedly abstract concept that, in my context at least, meant that my contribution to the betterment of “humanity” here in the United States would additionally include tackling the specific challenges facing the Muslim-American community, to which I also belonged. The constitutionally enshrined freedoms and the rule of law in the United States were an opportunity and an imperative to keep fighting against oppression, not an excuse to become comfortably apathetic.

Throughout my upbringing, my parents ensured that I remained mindful of various social justice issues. One issue I remember quite distinctly is the plight of my aunt’s husband, who was a political prisoner in Syria for 20 years. My first exposure to the cause of the defenseless and oppressed was a personal family connection, and consistently throughout my childhood, my father reminded me to pray for his brother-in-law’s release and the release of countless other prisoners of conscious in Syria and around the world.

My dad’s brother-in-law was thankfully released from detention in 2002, around the same time another series of transformative events began to take place. After the tragic events of September 11, 2001, as America struggled to deal with terrorism and seemingly endless cycles of war around the world, the Muslim community in America and abroad began to face political and social backlash, and my childhood was tainted by events like the passage of the PATRIOT Act and the American invasion of Iraq. Topics such as increased government surveillance of Muslim communities and the implications of American involvement in the Middle East made for sobering but lively dinnertime discussion at home, which taught me to be conscious of the complexities inherent in constant pursuit of “security” by the powerful, which too often led to the suffering of the defenseless.

I know that in this, my personal experience and drive are not unique. Over the course of the past few years, I’ve talked to many budding attorneys whose self-stated goal in entering the law is impacting societal change or advocating on behalf of the defenseless. And I’m sure reciting this oath just now renewed in us all the sense of working toward a noble cause. But I want to take a few minutes to talk about how this oath translates into practice as we venture into our legal careers.

At the micro-level as individual attorneys, there is much we can do. For me personally, I have worked to fulfill this pledge for the last year or so by working at a civil rights nonprofit — the Council on American-Islamic Relations of Florida — where we assist individuals fleeing persecution in their country of origin as well as victims of growing Islamophobia in the state of Florida. While the opportunities in the nonprofit sector to serve the underrepresented are plenty, there is also a lot of room for this type of advocacy among private attorneys. Rule 4-6.1 of the Florida Rules of Professional Responsibility states that we have a responsibility to provide pro bono legal services to poor clients; it sets an aspirational annual goal of 20 hours of pro bono service or a $350 payment to a legal aid organization. We can all take this aspirational goal and make it mandatory upon ourselves — we can start by getting involved in our local pro bono committees and connecting with legal aid offices and nonprofit organizations. My experience so far has been that there are many more indigent clients in the state of Florida than people willing to help them at no cost.

And as we advocate for individual clients, we must also work toward the resolution of macro-level issues as well. We cannot hope to alleviate the suffering of marginalized communities without addressing the overarching problems that have contributed to their relative impotence. Even though it may be controversial or unpopular at times, let us take a definite stance on societal issues impacting the oppressed such as systemic racism, economic disparity, and what often amounts to the criminalization of homelessness and mental illness.

I mentioned earlier that my religious background is an influential factor in the reason I am a lawyer who firmly believes in advocating for justice for all, but especially for the downtrodden. In the Oath of Attorney, I see echoes of a teaching in my Islamic faith tradition that we ought to stand with both the oppressor and the oppressed. While it’s pretty obvious why we’re taught to support the oppressed, it may be less clear what it means to stand with the oppressor. We stand with the oppressor by preventing him from oppressing another person, by refusing to be silent when we witness oppression. As officers of the court, we can do this by addressing unethical practices we see from other attorneys, either by engaging in straightforward conversations with one another or reporting wrongful conduct to the Florida Bar, if the situation so requires. On the macro-level, we can prevent oppression by working toward larger causes to reduce political and social marginalization and exclusion — we should never be afraid to take a public stance on systemic practices we believe are harming a certain group of people. Large-scale oppression can only become obsolete if we challenge it collectively, and that is a shared responsibility we ought to take seriously. Let us pledge not only to stand up for the defenseless and oppressed, but also to hold each other accountable when it comes to acting on that promise.

I will leave you with the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a true revolutionary whose struggle for civil rights we often honor but whose values and ideas our society has yet to truly commit to. Dr. King once said, “The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.”

Now that we have officially joined the ranks of Florida’s legal community, let us go out and be exceptional attorneys, but we should remember that exceptional work is impossible unless we are good people too. Congratulations once again, and thank you.

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