Chief Justice Durrant Swears In New Law Students

The Hon. Matthew B. Durrant, Chief Justice of the Utah Supreme Court, conducted the oath at the 2012 Induction Ceremony held August 17 in the College of Law’s Sutherland Moot Courtroom.

Befitting the occasion, Durrant shared an anecdote about President Lincoln and Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton. In the mid-1850s, Stanton had served as lead attorney on the McCormick-Manny Reaper patent case on which Lincoln also served as counsel. By all accounts, Stanton was embarrassed by Lincoln’s gawky personal appearance and treated him poorly in the courtroom. Nevertheless, early in Lincoln’s administration, the president turned to Stanton to efficiently manage the War Department. Durrant’s story illustrated the importance of civility and justice in the practice of law, as well as the necessity of overlooking personal differences in order to seek an equitable outcome.

Dean Hiram Chodosh introduced the event and provided closing remarks. As students embarked on a legal education, he offered reassurance: “If you take full advantage of educational process in our program, you will leave this school with both self-confidence and significant opportunities over your lifetime.”

After touching on some of the defining issues of our times including healthcare, the environment, financial markets and technology, Chodosh stressed that ours is a “law-based civilization.”

“[J]ust as we will always need medicine and trained professionals to combat disease, we will always need law and lawyers and leaders in other fields with legal training to solve complex problems, to advance effective strategies for private and public enterprises, to resolve conflict, to ensure compliance with our chosen norms, to facilitate contracts and commerce, to hold private and public actors accountable for their breaches or abuses of power. In other words, our community needs you, our nation needs you, and our civilization needs you,” he said.

In addition to the members of the Class of 2015, the Induction Ceremony was attended by family members, faculty and staff. A reception followed the ceremony.

Forty-eight percent of the Class of 2015 is made up of women, 80% are Utah residents, and 12% are people of color. The age range is 21-46, and the average age is 27.4. The non-residents of the class were domiciled in 18 other states before moving here for school and their birthplaces represent 23 different states and seven foreign countries. They earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from 42 universities and colleges from all over the United States and the world (including two foreign law degrees). Class members hold degrees in 40 different undergraduate majors and 28% of the 1Ls have earned graduate degrees in other disciplines—including a Ph.D. and an M.D.  Fifty-two percent of the Class is multilingual, with some 19 different languages and dialects being spoken, and two class members have served in the military.