A few weeks ago, the Law School lost a legendary teacher, dedicated scholar, and outstanding colleague. Many former students recall Don Marshall, who taught at the Law School for more than 40 years, as the best teacher they ever had, in any subject, at any school. Don’s love for teaching, and his concern for his students, embodied the best qualities of an institution that has insisted on excellence ever since it opened its doors more than 120 years ago.
Don’s legacy rests on the transformative impact he has had on generations of students. Perhaps better than anyone, he taught his students to think like lawyers. But more important, Don helped his students understand how they could live a meaningful life, infused with their own personal values and principles. He helped them understand that law can be a calling as well as a profession. Don’s advice to his students, delivered in his last class before his retirement in 2005, is reprinted in this issue of e-Perspectives.
Don’s approach to law and lawyering is worth remembering at a time when people question the value of a law degree and the role of lawyers in our society. Without question, our students face the most difficult job market in recent memory. Law practice is changing, with consequences that are hard to predict. But for anyone willing to follow Don Marshall’s advice, a law degree can still be a ticket to a wonderful, challenging, and rewarding career. Our graduates will continue to play leadership roles at the bench and bar, in industry, in government, and in the nonprofit world, as many of the alumni highlighted in this issue already do.
Alumni, I hope you will keep in mind the opportunities a Minnesota law degree has made available to you and help us help our most recent graduates to find their own such opportunities. All of us will feel the benefits when graduates are able to live the kind of meaningful life Don Marshall so memorably advocated.
David Wippman, Dean