Virginia Supreme Court Justice Administers Oath of Professionalism to ASL Students
Grundy, VA (August 23, 2019) — Virginia Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth McClanahan, who will be joining the Appalachian School of Law next month as its new Dean, administered the oath of professionalism to incoming first year law students during a special ceremony on campus earlier this month.
Prior to administering the oath, McClanahan warmly welcomed ASL’s class of 2022.
“I feel incredibly blessed to be here and I want to help all of you in building a legal career,” McClanahan said. “A lot of smart, talented people have come before you – all of you are smart and talented — and a lot of people have looked at your application and your LSAT scores and everybody has decided you can do this.”
McClanahan’s address highlighted the importance of professionalism, integrity and ethics during their next three years as students and thereafter as they begin their legal careers.
“It is not a right to practice law,” McClanahan said. “It is a high privilege and honor. You have a duty to the profession and to the public to be ethical and to always remember that as lawyers, we are protecting the rule of law in this country.”
Integrity, she counseled, will be students’ number one tool in achieving these duties, explaining that integrity means choosing one’s thoughts and actions based on values instead of personal gain. McClanahan explained that it is also important for students to hold themselves and others accountable in a self-regulated profession; to learn to disagree without being disagreeable; to represent their clients in the future zealously, but to do so without becoming a zealot.
She challenged them to always act with respect and courtesy in all walks of life and to be willing to cooperate and to build relationships with other students, professors, faculty and staff during law school and then in life.
“Always look people in the eye,” she said. “It gives you a different view.”
McClanahan expressed her hope that students will practice these skills during their next three years at ASL and will seize every opportunity and take advantage of every resource ASL has to offer. She further encouraged students to interact with members of the Bar, judges and other court officials, taking the opportunity to learn from them and to network with them.
While at times the challenges of law school and the duties of the legal profession can feel insurmountable, McClanahan shared with students her trick for coping with daily and career-based frustrations and stress — what she called the 72-hour rule.
“Most things in life can wait 72 hours,” she said. “Don’t make your decision immediately — wait 72 hours to respond to that difficult person, email or phone message.”
She also encouraged them to join her and other ASL faculty and staff in being creative and thinking outside the box and counseled each of them to set two short-term goals and two long-term goals.
“It really does work,” McClanahan said of short-term and long-term goal setting. By setting goals and asking oneself throughout the day if a certain task or occurrence impacts either, she said the ability to deal with everyday stresses becomes easier. “Otherwise, you are stressed about every little thing all day.”
McClanahan concluded by noting she was thrilled to be there Friday to administer the oath of professionalism and further that she was looking forward to September 2 when she will return as Dean.
Following the conclusion of her remarks, students took the Oath of Professionalism.
PHOTO CAPTION: Virginia Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth McClanahan chats with ASL first year students following the administration of the Oath of Professionalism to members of the incoming ASL Class of 2022.
August 23, 2019
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