On August 17, 2022, first-year students entering the Law School were asked to recognize their future role as lawyers and public citizens by reciting the induction pledge. Held in Catholic Law’s glass-roofed, four-story Louise H. Keelty and James Keelty, Jr. Atrium, Dean Stephen Payne welcomed new students and their guests before introducing The Honorable Coral Wong Pietsch ’74, of the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, to administer the oath.
Judge Pietsch serves as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for Veteran Claims and has had a lifetime of distinguished public service at the state, national, and international levels. She began her public service career when she joined the military and served on active duty in the United States Army as a Judge Advocate. Later, she continued her service in the U.S. Army Reserve and rose to the rank of Brigadier General, becoming the first woman in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps to be promoted to general officer and the first woman of Asian descent to be promoted to general officer in the Army.
In 2007, as a Department of Defense civilian, she volunteered to deploy in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and served as Deputy Rule of Law Coordinator for the Baghdad Provincial Reconstruction Team. In cooperation with the Iraqi Bar Association, she helped establish the first-ever Legal Aid Clinic at one of Iraq’s largest detention facilities, a clinic that has continued to operate.
On the state level, she served as the Chair of the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission. During the time she served, the Commission improved its administrative process, eliminated backlogs, and implemented public education and awareness programs. Judge Pietsch was appointed to the bench in July 2012.
Following her introduction by Dean Payne, Judge Pietsch asked the group of new students to raise their right hands and repeat after her as she recited these words:
I, [name], do solemnly swear or affirm that to the best of my ability I will be professional and ethical in all that I do as a member of the community at the Columbus School of Law; I will treat all persons whom I encounter with fairness, integrity, and civility; and I will strive to use my knowledge and skills to advance society, improve the quality of justice, and increase access to justice for all.
To conclude, Judge Pietsch offered brief, final remarks to the Classes of 2025 and 2026. “I now declare you hard-working, conscientious, thoughtful first-year law students at the Columbus School of Law. I would just like to encourage you to maintain a healthy perspective and always keep your sense of humor because it’s a long journey ahead. You have been given the opportunity and a chance by the school to achieve things, so I would ask you: don’t disappoint the institution, don’t disappoint your family, and don’t disappoint yourself.”