A Message from Dean West

Excellence, Then and Now

Students often remain connected to Michigan Law for a lifetime—but that connection is not exclusive to students.

As you’ll read in this issue of the Law Quadrangle, many of our emeritus faculty remain regulars in the Quad. Collectively, they’ve amassed a stunning array of accolades for work in their respective fields. They also are a veritable encyclopedia of Michigan Law lore—from timeless stories of students’ shenanigans, to the local impact of history-making world events, to I-knew-them-when tales of some of our most prominent alumni.

Our emeritus faculty, however, do not gather simply to reminisce about their glory days. They engage in serious, spirited debate about vexing legal problems. The same intellectual curiosity and relentless examination of complex issues that makes them pillars in our profession drives them to continue questioning—and to continue challenging each other—as they have done for decades.

Watching this group banter is like sitting at a family dinner table (a really smart dinner table, but a dinner table nonetheless). They love to argue, and they know how to push each other’s buttons. Sometimes the best they can do is agree to disagree. But there also is an undercurrent of respect and affection fostered by years spent making one another better scholars, lawyers, and teachers, and of sharing countless inside jokes and memories.

The continued engagement of our emeritus faculty demonstrates more than just the endurance of the relationships that are built here. Their ability to engage in rigorous debate, then smile and carry on, encapsulates a significant aspect of what makes Michigan Law special. We all become better lawyers and better people when an open exchange of ideas among people with different life experiences and worldviews causes us to reevaluate our assumptions.

UMLS_Emeriti_Discussion_033Our emeriti also exemplify the thought leadership that continues to pervade our community. As you’ll read in the following pages, Michigan Law professors are leading the way in thinking about the legal ramifications of autonomous vehicles and are creating innovative courses that train our lawyers to be successful at business development from the onset of their careers. At the same time, reading this issue of the Law Quadrangle will remind you that, decades ago, our faculty were writing the canonical works on many areas of the law and establishing core tenets of our constitutional rights. These modern legends sit in the faculty lounge next to tomorrow’s legends, and we all are enriched for it.

I am grateful to our emeritus faculty for modeling excellence and collegiality in such inspiring ways. As we bring new faculty on board this fall—details of which will appear in the next issue of the magazine—I am confident that their legacy will continue.

Mark D. West
Nippon Life Professor of Law

Online Extras

Beyond the Ivory Tower

“A year ago Andy Babick was serving a life sentence in prison. Because of Megan Richardson and Will Martin’s work at the Innocence Clinic, he is spending this holiday season at home with his family.

A year and a half ago a Michigan father had been deprived of seeing his son for seven years. Because of Matt Tannenbaum and Tim Pavelka’s work at trial, that father now has custody of his child.

It is because of Kelsey VanOverloop’s work at Freedom House that a political activist, beaten and tortured in his home country, was able to file for asylum in the United States.

Karima Tawfik’s work in Sierra Leone gave a legal voice to those whose land had been taken from them by foreign rubber companies at the peak of the Ebola crisis.

These are just a few examples of the ways in which members of this class have already begun to impact the legal community that we are about to enter.”

From a Senior Day speech by Michael J. Brown.