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Dean's Welcome Message

Welcome to Western New England University School of Law!  We are delighted to be able to welcome you here, as you start on this incredibly rewarding and incredibly demanding path at the School of Law.

We are convening here as a community in year three of the pandemic.  But we are in a vaccinated community that continues to prioritize our collective health and well-being and brings all of us together to learn with each other and from each other.

The start of your time here at the School of Law is a time to embrace new and exciting possibilities.

As you begin your studies, you are also starting your legal career.  The law is a rewarding profession where you can make a profound difference, whether to a specific client or to society as a whole.  Lawyers have impact. 

When you decided to come to law school, you made an important decision to acquire new skills and knowledge. Your core mission here, encompassed by the  Law School’s Mission Statement, is to learn and to prepare yourself for a career in the law. As you can see from the complicated world in which we live, there are a great many problems to be solved and a great need for compassionate, creative, and thoughtful problem-solvers.

There are also important and fundamental values and ideals that underpin who we are and what we do as lawyers.  Law school is a time of growth, change, and possibilities, and all of that must be governed by the norms of this profession and the values that underlie a democratic society.

In fact, the Preamble of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct- the rules that govern lawyers' behavior- recognizes that “Lawyers play a vital role in the preservation of society.”

It is especially important to remember this as a guide as you develop your own professional identity in the days and years ahead.

As you begin your legal career - Ask yourself – what comes to mind when you think of “a lawyer?”

More importantly, ask yourself – what comes to mind when you think of the qualities of a “good lawyer?” Someone who you would want to represent a loved one.

It is important to keep these qualities in mind as you approach your work as a law student – a lawyer in training. Because the qualities that make a happy, healthy, ethical, and successful lawyer are the same qualities that make a happy, healthy, ethical and successful law student.

For example, the Model Rules of Professional Conduct require both competence and diligence. As Law students, Competence and Diligence means preparation and engagement with your courses and your colleagues. As a law student: Complete your work with passion, strive for excellence and be a good colleague.

The Introduction to the Law course will give you a solid foundation to undertake the study of law and help you maximize the opportunities ahead.

New situations – even exciting ones that we seek out – like going to law school - are often stressful - so it is also important to take care of yourselves and each other.

Sometimes when we are confronted with a new endeavor that’s really demanding, our instinct is to pour ourselves into it without thinking of anything else.  Please do not do that.  Take care of yourself.  Sleep, eat well, exercise, and remember to laugh and to enjoy yourself.  Spend time connecting with people and doing things that sustain your well-being.

And make the time to get to know the wonderful people around you, the people in this room, and the other people who are part of this community.  There are fantastic people that you will count among your closest friends and your lifelong professional network.  That, too, is very special, and something to cherish and nurture.

As you will learn, lawyer and law student well-being is vitally important - to you as an individual and to the legal profession as a whole. You will learn a lot more about the resources that we have available to help you navigate law school and the legal profession and we hope that you will all take advantage of the resources as well as the Ten Percent Happier mindfulness and meditation App!  There is growing awareness of the benefits of incorporating contemplative practices and mindfulness into daily life as well as into the study and practice of law.    

Law school requires a sustained effort over a long period of time to master the ideas and skills that define the profession.  The Law never stops changing and Lawyers never stop learning. 

And it is important to use your knowledge and the power of the law wisely and well.

As recognized in the Model Rules of Professional Conduct [1] “A lawyer, as a member of the legal profession, is a representative of clients, an officer of the legal system and a public citizen having special responsibility for the quality of justice.

As a Law Student, keep these values and ideals in mind - community and Collegiality begin here.

Lawyers are the stewards of the most fundamental institutions in our society and have a responsibility to protect the rule of law and the values underpinning society.

This is not easy. The world is an unpredictable and sometimes shocking place, and the foundations of our democracy are fragile. That is precisely why society turns to its lawyers.

So remember, throughout law school and throughout your career, use your knowledge and power of the law wisely and well.  You have the opportunity to broaden your mind, and your horizons and to approach this endeavor in a way that exemplifies the best in our profession.

Let me close by saying again how happy I am to welcome you to this new chapter of your life—it’s a great honor to be your dean, and we are so glad that you are part of the Western New England University School of Law community.

Welcome to the Class of 2025 & 2026! 

Thank you,

Interim Dean Beth Cohen