Dean Mark E. Brandon applauded the Class of 2020 for being “a distinguished group by any proper measure” during First-Year Orientation.
The class has 126 students and was drawn from a pool of more than 1,500 applicants. Forty-five percent of the class members are women, and 19 percent identify as members of a racial or ethnic minority. The members of the Class of 2020 have lived, worked or studied in 34 countries outside of the United States – in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Australia, Africa, South America and Central America.
“As dean of The University of Alabama School of Law, I’m pleased and honored to welcome you – the Class of 2020 – and to welcome, also, our transfer students, our visiting and exchange students, and our international LL.M. students. You – each and all of you – are valued members of our community,” Brandon said.
Brandon offered advice in four areas he wished he had known when he started law school more than 40 years ago.
First, he encouraged law students to educate themselves broadly and deeply and take on courses in all the basic fields of law, including challenging courses and those in fields they might not expect to like.
“You’ll gain a thicker sense of law as a complex, living institution,” he said. “And if you can develop a sense of the whole, you’ll also acquire a more sophisticated sense of the parts.”
Second, he noted that law consists of rules, but it doesn’t consist only of rules.
“What you’ll learn is that the rules are knit together with other stuff,” he said. “They’re knit together with principles, with considerations of policy and social advantage, and with values.”
Third, he urged them to take care of themselves.
“Eat well. Rest. Exercise. If you have an exercise routine, keep it. If you don’t have one, get one.”
Finally, Brandon advised the members of the Class of 2020 to leave a mark on law school, society and the law.
“In your studies here – and in your professional lives — leave a trace. And make it a trace you’ll be proud you left,” he said. “Make your mark: on the School of Law; on your community, nation, and world through law; on the law itself. Make them better than you found them.”