U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder's visit on March 1 to the University of Massachusetts School of Law -- Dartmouth put a spotlight on the Commonwealth's only public law school, with the Attorney General noting that its clinical programs and recent provisional accreditation by the American Bar Association mean that the "UMass School of Law is well on its way to becoming an essential training ground for students from across the region."
Joined at UMass Law by an audience of more than 300 students, staff, faculty, leading lawyers and jurists -- including Congressman William Keating, U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz, UMass Board of Trustees Chairman Henry Thomas and UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Divina Grossman -- Attorney General Holder opened his remarks on reducing gun violence and the effects of sequestration by addressing students directly:
"I always appreciate the chance to speak with future leaders of our nation's legal community -- and I'm particularly happy to join you today at the only public law school in Massachusetts. Although this institution is still young, I know it's hard at work educating a new generation of lawyers, leaders, advocates, and public servants. I'm pleased to hear that it's becoming a forum for robust debate -- where issues of consequence are discussed and addressed.
Holder added: "I'm proud to note that, with your clinical programs and recent provisional accreditation, UMass School of Law is well on its way to becoming an essential training ground for students from across the region -- whose contributions will undoubtedly help to shape our nation's course, and determine its path, for years to come."
Holder also called on the students to embrace what he called UMass Law's "particular mission" to train public-interest lawyers representing all walks of life and backgrounds in Massachusetts.
UMass Law, in addition to earning provisional accreditation, is also focused on its students' more than 5500 hours of pro bono legal services donated to nonprofits in the region -- both as a matter of giving new lawyers real-life experience, and as part of its commitment to law in the public interest.
"You should always consider yourself a public-interest lawyer, whether you are a judge or a lawyer in a big law firm," he said. "How this country looks in the 21st century, the 21st century my children will live in, will be determined by people like you... I look forward to that and expect that leadership from each and every one of you."
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