Virginia Supreme Court Justice Cleo E. Powell Visits ASL
GRUNDY, VA (DECEMBER 9, 2019) – Appalachian School of Law recently welcomed Justice Cleo E. Powell of the Supreme Court of Virginia to campus. Powell recently joined the ASL community as distinguished visiting professor of law, diversity mentor and L. Anthony Sutin endowed lecturer. She became a member of the Supreme Court of Virginia in 2011 and is the first African American female to serve on Virginia’s highest court.
Powell addressed ASL students, faculty, staff, and members of the community, challenging them to consider the legacy they will leave. “What is the legacy you want to be remembered by,” Powell asked those gathered in the ASL appellate courtroom. “When people say your name, what will they say about you?”
“In every profession, there is a term that is applied; how it is measured,” Powell continued. “Those who have done a particularly good job, who left their mark and set themselves apart, who became someone others want to emulate . . . it has nothing to do with where you grew up, where you graduated, where you went to law school. It has nothing to do with how much money you make. It has everything to do with how you practice law; everything to do with the type of person you are. Be a lawyer’s lawyer or a judge’s judge.”
Powell also advised students to always be professional, stating, “You can’t come into the practice of law and treat it as an afterthought. Your opponent is not your enemy. You are working toward the same goal, and that is to make sure justice is done and the rule of law is upheld. You don’t need to be less than courteous or civil – there is a difference between being zealous and being unprofessional.”
“Every day in life we are faced with choices,” she said. “Take advantage of that. Don’t cheat the system. Don’t take shortcuts. Work tirelessly to get the results your client deserves. Do above what the minimum requires. I want you to be the type of lawyer all lawyers aspire to be.”
Lastly, Powell urged students to be well-rounded, stressing the importance of giving back to the community.
“Never become self-absorbed,” she said. “It is important that you continue to see the needs around you and that you can help.”
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