First-year law students at the University of Arizona received a new kind of welcome this year by participating in the James E. Rogers College of Law’s inaugural professionalism ceremony.
College of Law Dean Lawrence Ponoroff said he created the event as a way for incoming students to understand what it means to be in a profession. The idea was inspired, he said, by the white-coat ceremony of many medical schools.
“Professionals serve a critical and weighty role in our society. When students start on their path to a professional degree, they need to fully embrace the obligation of upholding its standards with integrity and honor,” Ponoroff said. “Their commitment – and our expectations – start on their very first day.”
At the end of a three-day orientation earlier this month, members of the College of Law’s class of 2015 stood, raised their right hands and recited together an oath that began, “As I begin my legal career as a student at the University of Arizona College of Law, I pledge to conduct myself with integrity and honor and to behave in an ethical manner. This promise will be the foundation of my everyday life starting today.”
Students went on to pledge to diligently master casework, to offer courtesy and professionalism at all times and to seek the good of those they will serve by giving of themselves and their knowledge. Each student was then given a copy of the U.S. Constitution.
Josh Barton, a first-year student from Mesa, Ariz., said he appreciated the ceremony, which took place on Aug. 17 before classes got under way.
Barton said the UA College of Law’s reputation and commitment to a strong code of ethics is one of the reasons he’s here.
“My dad’s a lawyer, and he taught me you ought to be honest and serve people around you,” Barton said. “That’s one of the reasons I want to be a lawyer.”
First-year student Anna Nieves said she also valued the ceremony, though she was initially surprised by it. She said she was drawn to the UA College of Law because of its reputation for academics and immigration law. She said the ceremony helped elevate her thinking as classes began.
“I appreciated the somber gesture of getting us in the professional mind set,” Nieves said. “It set the bar high.”