Typical classroom discussions took an unexpected and welcomed detour Monday, September 9 as Nashville School of Law students had a surprise guest speaker – Chief Justice of the United States John G. Roberts, Jr.

Faculty members, from left, Candi R. Henry, Hon. Steve R. Dozier, President & Dean William C. Koch, Jr., Chief Justice of the United States John G. Roberts, Jr., Kimberley Reed-Bracey Johnson, M. Clark Spoden, William L. Harbison.

The amazement was obvious on students’ faces as they watched the Chief Justice walk into their classrooms, make a few brief remarks and then take questions. Chief Justice Roberts’s visit to each of the four early evening classes was preceded by a visit from Judge Jeffrey S. Sutton of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, who also spoke to students and took questions.

President & Dean William C. Koch, Jr. noted that the visit was an inspiring experience for the students, faculty, and staff and noted the significance of the Chief Justice’s visit to the School.

“Chief Justice Roberts’s generous act to spend time with our students further validated their decision to pursue a legal career. His candid answers to their questions strengthened their resolve to finish what they have started,” Dean Koch said.

During the visit, both judges invited questions from the students on any topic they chose. Students asked about specific cases, law school, career paths, and the other justices on the Supreme Court.

Fourth-year student John Murphy said it will be a moment he will remember for the rest of his life.

“Spending time with students at a night law school speaks to Justice Roberts’s character and commitment to inspiring the next generation of lawyers. I came away from this moment with a renewed sense of and motivation for the law and the legal profession,” he said.

Professor Bill Harbison’s contracts class was one of the four stops the jurists made.

“Justice Roberts was kind and humble in his remarks. He also expressed admiration for the class, recognizing that most of them work during the day and attend law school at night,” Harbison said. “His deep respect for our legal system was what came through, and I am sure that it impressed the class immensely.”

Both judges offered encouraging words to the students about their studies and ability to make a difference in the profession.

“Chief Justice Roberts’s insight into the Constitution and the importance of remaining neutral when making decisions was a great reminder as a future attorney. His presence encouraged me to work even harder toward my career goals,” said 2L student Bethany Robinson.