Having a clear and concise mission statement is integral to any business organization and is a powerful way to convey the direction of the organization. We are taught that a mission statement should answer questions such as What is our purpose? And Why do we exist? I have no doubt that when the founders of UST Law sat down to begin debating the first mission statement of the law school, it was these principles that fueled the discussion. Thirteen years later, I can’t help but wonder whether those individuals had any idea how many lives would be changed by their words and vision of the future.
I think I am not alone in saying that when I was selecting law schools, the strength of a school’s mission statement was not exactly one of my top priorities. But when it came time to make that life-altering decision, it is what put St. Thomas above the rest in my book. From the moment I walked onto campus, the sense of welcome and good will permeated the walls of the building and was apparent on the face of every person I passed. I was greeted with smiles and a hearty hello from Pete and Brad, the security guards manning the front desk of the school. I soon learned these two men would go to any length to protect their “children”and make us all feel safe while we were under their care. Later in the group tour we visited the quaint School of Law Chapel where daily mass is held. Finally, we saw the statue of St. Thomas More, the patron saint of lawyers, placed prominently in the atrium of the building. Each prospective student was allowed to approach the statue and rub its foot for “good luck” just as so many law students before us had done prior to a big exam.
It was not until I experienced it firsthand that I could truly appreciate what the St. Thomas mission represents. It certainly represents something unique to each member of our community, but the one common theme is that our mission statement is more than just words on a page or aspirations for the future of the organization. For those who have had the great privilege of observing and living it out for three years of our lives, the St. Thomas mission is now a lens through which we see the world. It is the pull to a higher calling—one where service to others and the ultimate search for perpetuating good in the world comes before all else. As I read the submissions to this blog written by my colleagues who have landed in vastly different areas of legal practice and life, I am humbled to see that no matter how far away life may take us, we will always be Tommies at heart, viewing the world through that very same lens that drew us together from the start.
Erin Gross is an associate attorney with Erstad & Riemer, P.A., practicing in the area of workers’ compensation defense.