In celebration of its 50th anniversary, UDC Law partnered with SuitShop to provide each incoming student with a suit jacket to kickstart their legal careers. First-year students wore the suits for the Aug. 11 pinning ceremony where they received their 50th anniversary branded lapel pins and took an oath committing to the legal profession and service in the public interest.
Every student who comes to UDC Law participates in the school’s top-five-ranked Clinical Program (U.S. News & World Report, 2023) where they serve the D.C. community by working on real cases with real clients under the supervision of licensed attorneys. This means they begin practicing law nearly from the moment they start law school, and this partnership with SuitShop is one of many ways UDC Law is working to set students up for success from the beginning – and to kickstart the next fifty years of practicing law, promoting justice and changing lives.
“Partnering with SuitShop in this way will help students overcome obstacles and remove some of the doubt many students encounter while attending law school,” said Director of Development Adeshola Akintobi, adding, “The suits will ensure students are prepared for fellowships, interviews and other opportunities that arise during their legal education.”
To help meet UDC Law’s goals of access and affordability, SuitShop has established an affiliate program in which 10% of sales made through the program will go toward funding additional scholarships for future cohorts at UDC Law. In addition, the suits were manufactured with 38% recycled material, a commitment to sustainability that aligns with UDC Law’s advocacy mission.
UDC President Ronald Mason Jr., Chief Academic Officer Lawrence Potter, Acting Dean Twinette Johnson, Dean of Students Erica Smith and Akintobi spoke to the incoming class at the pinning ceremony. They shared stories of their own educational journeys and advice for success and welcomed the classes of 2025 and 2026 to the legal profession.
Dean Johnson said, “This pinning ceremony reinforces that your journey to lawyer, to attorney, to esquire begins today. You don’t have to wait until you get your degree to consider yourselves part of the profession. Your journey to becoming a lawyer has already started.”
She noted that the pinning ceremony emphasizes for students the “importance of conducting yourselves as attorneys” and noted that commitment goes beyond the end of law school. “Look at your classmates,” she said, “these will be your colleagues. These will be the folks that you practice with. These will be the people who can recommend you.”
Pres. Mason described his first day of law school. “I walked in the door and looked around,” he said, “and I turned around to leave the with intention of never coming back. It just didn’t seem like the place for me.” He shared that, on the advice of a classmate who became a lifelong friend, he decided to give it just one day. That decision changed his life, he said, “because in a nation of laws, being a lawyer is no small thing.”
“A commitment without competence is a hollow pledge,” Mason added, “and so your job while you’re here is to learn to be the best lawyer you can possibly be, to learn how to see the law, how to read the law, how to write the law and how to speak the law – and at the end of the process, to make sure you pass the bar because you have to be in the club to use the law. Then once you’re in the club, the hope is that you will use what you have learned to go out and make the world a better place for the people who are still looking at the world from the bottom up.”
Dr. Potter welcomed students to UDC and to the legal profession on behalf of the academic and research arm of the university and urged them to be mindful of their role in the community both at UDC Law and in the practice of law. “I want you to think about this journey in a way that you are going to be an accountability coach for the person to your left and the person to your right so each of you will cross that finish line in three years or four years.”
Akintobi emphasized the symbolic meaning of receiving a matching suit jacket to jump start their careers and welcome the students to the UDC Law family. “We believe in your unlimited potential,” she said, adding, “I also want you to know that these suit jackets symbolize the thousands of UDC Law alumni, our faculty, staff, family and friends who are invested in your future and have literally ‘got your back.’”