The Catholic University of America



Dean Veryl V. Miles summed up a CUA legal education for first-year students on Aug. 20:
"Practicing what you learn and at the same time helping, healing and giving hope to others."
(Photographs courtesy of Greg Stack)

For 1Ls, Law School Begins With a Warm Welcome

At the end of five exhausting and exhilarating days that concluded orientation week, the incoming day and evening students of 2010 were officially welcomed in to the CUA Law community with remarks on Aug. 20 from law school Dean Veryl Miles, Catholic University Provost Dr. James F. Brennan and the university’s new President, John H. Garvey. 

The welcome-to-the-law-school ceremony and reception that followed capped a busy period for the law school’s newest members, one that introduced them to the challenges and complexities of the study of law but also exposed them to the satisfactions of service to others.
The first-year students, the day class of 2013 and evening class of 2014, are an astonishingly diverse and accomplished group, as Dean Miles noted in her remarks.

For the first time ever, a slight majority of students (51%) in both the day and evening divisions are women.

22 % of the class is self-identified as members of a recognized minority group. They come from 34 states and 11 foreign countries, including Singapore, the Philippines, Taiwan, Bangladesh, Ireland, Italy, Germany, Venezuela, El Salvador, Trinidad & Tobago, Botswana, Morocco, Cameroon, Rwanda, China, Japan and Australia. More than 18 languages are spoken proficiently.

  • Previous work experiences include sailing instructor, platoon leader at Guantanamo Bay, FBI intelligence analyst, owner and operator of a personal training business, naval aviator, investigative journalist, patent examiner, and for the first time, fly fisherman.
  • There are athletes, performers and political activists.  The class includes a competitive Irish Dancer, a baseball fan who set a world record for singing the national anthem in every major league baseball stadium, and decorated military veterans, including a recipient of the Purple Heart.  
  • Many class members are committed volunteers with organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, Teach for America, Peace Corps, Jesuit Volunteer Corps, Special Olympics, Katrina Relief and Operation Smile.
The common thread drawing all together, noted the dean, is that over the next three years they will come to see the world in a new way.
“Everything is Law. How you see the world, and the way you treat and care for people,” said Miles. “Everything you see from now on will be through a new lens, so to speak, one that will cause to see conduct, relationships, and consequences and needs differently: Has a crime been committed? Has someone been personally injured? Is this a breach of contract? Do the injured have a claim? What are their property rights? Can the dispute be settled? What is a fair and adequate remedy? Will justice be done?”        
The dean also quoted at length from the Columbus School of Law’s 2010 commencement student speaker, Preston Thomas, who devoted much of his remarks to the question: does the world need more lawyers?
“A lot of people have been very good to us and there are a lot of people in the world who desperately need our help. It’s time to return the favor….We’ve literally got a world to save,” said Thomas during his May, 2010 address.  
Dean Miles shared Thomas’s concluding words with the new class: “Just what the world needs, another lawyer. Absolutely!”
SBA President Melissa Feldmeier explained the organization's role in student life at introductory lunches held during orientation week.

Earlier in the week, the first-year students were also welcomed on a peer-to-peer level by Melissa Feldmeier, president of the Student Bar Association. Over a lunch designed to help the new classmates get to know one another, Feldmeier reminded everyone to make the effort to strike up new friendships.
“One of the greatest things about our school is how cooperative, friendly, and helpful everyone is—from the administration, to the faculty, to the students. We take great pride in that reputation and it’s a tradition I hope you’ll continue,” said Feldmeier.
“This is your new CUA Law family. These are the people you are going to spend the next three years of your life with. These are the people who you are going to turn to for help during law school. These are the people who after you graduate, besides being your friends, will make up your professional network. We are all members of the CUA Law family. Make sure you cultivate these relationships.”