Grand Occasion: UDM Law kicks off its Centennial Celebration


By Gar Willoughby
Legal News

The year was 1912. Woodrow Wilson was elected President. The RMS Titanic sank. Arizona and New Mexico became states. And in Michigan, a small Roman Catholic law school was founded: The University of Detroit Law School. In 1990, the law school consolidated with Mercy College of Detroit to become the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law.

On Aug. 24, the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law kicked off the first of many festivities to celebrate its 100th birthday. Hundreds of alumni, current students and law school faculty cheerfully toasted with one another in the student parking lot. But this wasn't a mere tailgate party. The law school's Alumni Relations Director, Denise Hickey, paid careful attention to detail and made sure each attendee shared a special experience.

Guests were treated to dinner and dessert from four of Detroit's best gourmet mobile food vendors (Jacque's Tacos, Peoples Pierogi Collective, Green Zebra, and Treat Dreams). Opus One Catering provided signature Centennial appetizers and cocktails. In addition to raffle prizes and delicious desserts, guests “got down” with Detroit City's own Shiba Palmer and the Motown Specials band.

While all in attendance were proud to celebrate the university's centennial, the Dean of UDM Law, Lloyd Semple, especially beamed with pride.
“This is a great way to start our 100th anniversary,” Semple said. “We should be proud of our law school and the great things we have done to help our community over the past century.”

Dean Semple also commented on future UDM Law events.

“During the rest of the year we have a lot more to come: the Red Mass in September, the Gala in October, and later the Law Review Symposium. It's going to be a great year and we hope to get a great crowd like this at each event.”

Dr. Antoine Garibaldi, president of University of Detroit Mercy, shared Dean Semple's sentiments.

“This is a great opportunity to celebrate 100 years of legal education,” Dr. Garibaldi said. “The students and alumni of the university have made a tremendously positive impact on this community. The work done by the School of Law's 10 legal clinics has significantly benefited not only the city and the state of Michigan, but also throughout the nation. It's very important that we continue to promote this tradition.”

As the sun began to dip below the city skyline on a beautiful Detroit summer evening, two of UDM Law's newest first-year students, Robbie Gaines Jr. and Justin Strayhorn, shared why they are proud to be starting the next 100 years of law school tradition.

“I grew up in Detroit. I went to undergraduate school in Detroit. And now I am going to law school in Detroit,” said Gaines Jr. “I love this city and I am blessed to be able to learn the law in the heart of the city I aim to practice in. UDM Law was my top choice in law schools because of its rich history and commitment to service in the community.”

Strayhorn agreed, “The history at UDM Law is a factor that was very influential in my decision to attend this school. Knowing that the staff and administration have placed an emphasis on student success is very exciting and helped re-enforced the notion that I will be a prepared and successful attorney in this wonderful community.”