Law School joins prestigious legal honor society


Published June 19, 2014

A prestigious legal honor society, whose philosophical roots stretch back to medieval English jurisprudence, has chosen SUNY Buffalo Law School as its newest member.

“This recognition is an affirmation of the star quality of our faculty, the hard work of our staff and the high standards of our students.”
Makau W. Mutua, Dean
SUNY Buffalo Law School

The Order of the Coif – often called the law school equivalent of Phi Beta Kappa – extended the invitation following a lengthy and thorough application process. SUNY Buffalo Law is the only new chapter granted this year by the organization. Buffalo joins a selective list of law schools that have received this honor – a group that includes Yale, Stanford, Cornell, Michigan, UC Berkeley, Chicago, Georgetown and Northwestern.

The organization’s criteria for admittance include commitment to superior legal education, a stimulating intellectual environment, dedicated teaching faculty who also produce quality research, instruction in both basic and new areas of the law, and rich and varied co-curricular activities, such as law journals, moot trial and appellate courts. In addition, the school’s student body must have varied educational backgrounds and excellent academic credentials, and the staff of the law library must provide a high level of assistance to the school’s teaching and scholarship.

“We are delighted to take our place in the Order of the Coif alongside other highly regarded law schools,” said SUNY Buffalo Law Dean Makau W. Mutua. “This recognition is an affirmation of the star quality of our faculty, the hard work of our staff and the high standards of our students. We are dedicated to educating new lawyers who are both deeply grounded in legal theory and conversant in the professional skills they will need in practice. We are gratified that our commitment to the best educational experience for our students is being acknowledged in such a public way.”

Through its chapter of the honor society, SUNY Buffalo Law will honor the top 10 percent of each year’s graduating class with membership in the Order of the Coif. In addition to honoring the best law students, the Order of the Coif confers a triennial book award, arguably the most prestigious award given for legal scholarship, and sponsors a national lecture series, through which member schools bring outstanding scholars to their campuses.

In medieval England, the Order of the Coif comprised the sergeants-at-law from whom the ranks of judges were drawn. (The coif, pronounced “koyf,” was a round white cloth that these barristers wore atop their wig.) The contemporary American version began in the early 1900s at Northwestern University Law School as a way to encourage excellence in legal education nationwide.