Beginning a Lifelong Journey in the Law

Interim Dean Robert E. Scott Welcomed New Students into the Columbia Law School Community During Orientation 2014

New York, September 2, 2014—In his address to Columbia Law School’s incoming J.D. and LL.M. classes, Interim Dean Robert E. Scott welcomed students into a community dedicated to upholding the values of intellectual integrity, civility, mutual respect, and public service.

“You will hear it said time and again that this is a special place. That is because we believe it to be so,” Scott told the J.D. Class of 2017 and the LL.M. Class of 2015. “But if it is to remain a special place it will be so only because of the commitment and contributions of each one of you.”
 Interim Dean Robert E. Scott
Scott’s speech helped kick off a month-long orientation program designed to introduce new students to academic life at Columbia Law School, the unique responsibilities and privileges inherent to the legal profession, and their classmates.
Scott, the Alfred McCormack Professor of Law, told students they are “at the beginning of a grand adventure.”
“Columbia Law School is a true microcosm of the newly connected world of law,” he said. “You will be side-by-side with colleagues who come from all corners of the globe. And, you will be taught by a faculty of uncommon distinction whose teaching and research embraces a similar global perspective.”
The interim dean asked students to commit themselves to the lifelong study of the law, to “the idea that the mechanisms people choose to regulate their affairs—ranging from the mundane to the majestic—are among the most precious commodities of a civilized society.”
Scott joined the Columbia Law School faculty full-time in 2006. He previously served 10 years as dean of the University of Virginia School of Law. A nationally recognized scholar and teacher in the fields of contracts, commercial transactions, and bankruptcy, he will serve as interim dean until Dec. 31, 2014 when Gillian Lester will assume the position as the 15th dean of Columbia Law School.
 The month-long orientation process includes campus tours and panel discussions.
Later during the orientation process, students had the chance to hear from faculty and administrators about a range of topics. At one event, incoming students met with Social Justice Initiatives staff and faculty at Columbia University’s Lerner Hall to learn about opportunities to pursue human rights, government service, and pro bono work on campus and beyond.
Professor Olatunde Johnson, whose distinguished career has included work with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, discussed the distinct ways attorneys can give back to society.
“Lawyers are engaged as litigators, policy makers, problem solvers, and more,” Johnson said. “There are so many roles you can play, and we are partners with you in thinking about these questions.”
Professor Robert J. Jackson Jr., co-director of the Ira M. Millstein Center for Global Markets and Corporate Ownership and a former adviser to senior officials at the Department of the Treasury, had this advice for students:
“Think about your path as one that includes responsibilities,” Jackson said. “Coming to Columbia Law School is a rare opportunity, and there are a lot of people who are counting on us.”
Students get to know each other in a variety of events on and off campus.
On a lighter note, orientation offered students the chance to get to know their surroundings and each other with an array of social events all across Manhattan and beyond, including a Yankees game, an evening of music at the Apollo Theater, and a tour of Islamic art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.