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Georgia State Law Graduation Speech Given by Colorado AG Cynthia Coffman
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Cynthia Coffman

Summary: Georgia State law school’s graduating students will get to hear from alum and attorney general of Colorado, Cynthia H. Coffman.

Georgia State University College of Law has 183 graduates receiving juris doctors and 18 graduates earning their Master of Laws degree. The graduation ceremony, which takes place May 11 at the Georgia State University Sports Arena, will honor the students as they embark on their legal careers. Colorado Attorney General Cynthia H. Coffman (J.D. ’91) will deliver the commencement address. The student speaker selected by the students will be Thomas Michael Hodell, according to a school announcement.


Coffman earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia before moving to Atlanta. She spent several years working in development at children’s hospitals and pediatric research before deciding to pursue a law degree from Georgia State Law. With her law degree in hand, Coffman went to work for the Georgia Attorney General’s Office, specifically working to defend the state’s juvenile justice system and Public Health Department.

Coffman was then provided with an opportunity to work as a lawyer in finance and management services for the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games. After the attack in Olympic Park, she shifted to serving as the primary liaison for the victims and their families.

Coffman, who is currently running for governor of Colorado, said, “I am incredibly honored to have been asked to speak at graduation. The education I received at Georgia State University College of Law provided me with a launching pad that took my legal career further that I ever imagine when I crossed the stage at my own graduation.”

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She added, “My time at Georgia State instilled in me the value of service, and I hope to share with the graduates how service not only shapes strong lawyers, it forms active and engaged community members who can make a lasting impact.”

In 1997, Coffman received a position with the Colorado General Assembly’s Office of Legislative Council. She served as chief counsel in 2004 to then Gov. Bill Owens. A year later, Attorney General John Suthers named her as chief deputy. When his term was over, Coffman ran for attorney general and was elected in 2014.

Mike Hodell

Hodell (J.D. ’18) will address his fellow students, expounding upon his background and how it led him to Georgia State Law. He explains that he is in his “third career,” using life lessons from the first two to direct him to practice law. Hodell first worked as an engineer in the 90s in the aerospace industry. He was with manufacturer/defense contractor McDonnell Douglas in California and then with Lockheed-Martin in Georgia. After seven years he tried his luck in financial services. Once his children graduated from high school, he had the courage to try a career in law.

Hodell said, “It has been a gift, this opportunity to go back to school. It’s never too late to do the thing you want to do, if you really want to do it.”

Associate Dean for student affairs and associate professor of Law Kelly Cahil Timmons explains, “Mike is a nontraditional student who has excelled in diverse areas during law school. On Honors Day, Mike received both the Georgia Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers Custer-Tuggle Award for Excellence in Family Law and the Urban Fellows Research Award, along with an Award for Excellence in Lawyering Advocacy. You might not expect a law student to set the standard in both family law and issues connected to urban growth, but that is one of the many reasons we are proud to have Mike as a student.”

Do you think law schools are seeing more nontraditional students now that there are more examples of those succeeding in law school? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

To learn more about other nontraditional law students, read these articles:




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