Dean Peter Letsou Welcomes Class of 2014

Urging students to think of law school as “your school and your family,” Dean Peter Letsou welcomed 150 incoming students to the College of Law to campus for a three-day orientation. “Each of you has the ability and aptitude to become not only a lawyer, but a good lawyer,” he said. “We will strive to see you become the best lawyers that you can.”

 The Class of 2014 attended 89 different undergraduate institutions in the U.S. and abroad and received degrees in a variety of subjects, from aviation to zoology. Incoming class members speak 20 different languages, including Swahili, Gaelic and American Sign Language. Eighteen percent of the class are ethnic minorities. Students range in age from 21 to 55.

The class includes five exchange students from Bucerius Law School in Hamburg, Germany. One of them, Lena Zagst, has been studying the U.S. court system by observing procedures in Marion County Circuit Court.

 “I like the spirit here,” she said. “What I like about Americans is they really want to talk to you. They ask all kinds of questions.”

In his opening day speech, Letsou reminded students about they journey they’re about to take.

 “Law school, and not just this one, is different from anything you’ve done in the past,” Letsou said. “You may hear for the first time in your career a professor say, ‘you must try harder.’ We want to sharpen your minds so you can be effective servants and defenders of justice.”

 Willamette University President Steve Thorsett, who assumed his post in July, also addressed members of the class. He asked them to remember the university’s motto “Not unto ourselves alone are we born” when thinking about their legal careers.

 “It is my fervent hope you will remain ever mindful of the idea of legacy,” he said. “The practice of law is a great privilege. Use the privilege wisely and with a steady hand.”