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MSU College of Law



August 8, 2011


MSU College of Law Selects Co-Directors for Frank J. Kelley Institute of Ethics


East Lansing, MI — Now in its third year, one of the country’s premier institutions focused on issues of legal ethics, the Frank J. Kelley Institute of Ethics & the Legal Profession at Michigan State University College of Law, has selected two outstanding co-directors to lead the Institute’s mission of improving ethics in the legal profession and in the classroom.

The new co-directors, Professors Hannah Brenner and Renee Newman Knake, are committed to expanding the Kelley Institute’s reach to include a more comprehensive focus on education about legal ethics at the local, state, national, and international levels.

The new co-directors plan to proactively notify legal publications and mass media about ethical issues related to the legal profession. They also are happy to take reactive inquiries from the media on the topic of the ethical behavior of attorneys or issues surrounding the laws and rules governing the legal profession.

When asked to identify areas in which the legal profession has improved but additional work is needed, the professors pointed to two main topics: gender equality in the profession and ethics education for law students.

Both professors strongly agree that, while women enter the legal profession in numbers relatively equal to men, they remain significantly underrepresented in major leadership roles. “We are thrilled by the fact that one-third of U.S. Supreme Court justices are women,” Brenner notes. “However, we believe that much work remains to open positions of leadership and power in the legal profession to women.”

Although all U.S. law schools now incorporate some sort of legal ethics education into their curriculum, Knake points out that ethics is a primary focus at MSU Law. “Our students begin their first semester of law school with a required course on lawyers and ethics, continue to explore this issue in upper-level courses, and deepen their understanding of the topic through additional learning opportunities such as the Institute’s annual lecture.”

Joan W. Howarth, dean of MSU College of Law, is proud of the Law College’s commitment to preparing students for the heavy responsibilities that come with a Juris Doctor degree. “At MSU College of Law, ethics is at the center of our education,” she notes. “It’s not an add-on, it’s not secondary, it’s absolutely central.”

One main cornerstone of the Kelley Institute is its dedication to bringing legal thought leaders to the campus of MSU College of Law. The Institute will kick off the upcoming academic year with a dynamic and revealing lecture by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. Madigan’s talk, “New Directions in Ethics: The Attorney General’s Changing Role in the 21st Century,” will be held at MSU Wharton Center’s Pasant Theatre at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, September 13, 2011.

For more information on the co-directors’ backgrounds, the Kelley Institute’s mission, and the upcoming lecture, visit

Michigan State University College of Law, a leading institution of legal education with a long history of educating practice-ready attorneys, prepares future lawyers to use ethics, ambition, and intellect to solve the world’s problems. As one of only a few private law schools affiliated with a major research university, MSU Law offers comprehensive interdisciplinary opportunities combined with a personalized legal education. After 100 years as a private and independent institution, the affiliation with MSU has put the Law College on an upward trajectory of national and international reputation and reach. MSU Law professors are gifted teachers and distinguished scholars, its curriculum is rigorous and challenging, and its facility is equipped with the latest resources—all affirming MSU Law’s commitment to educating 21st-century lawyers.


320 Law College Building
East Lansing, MI 48824

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