SHELBY TOWNSHIP, Mich. – Last week, Michigan Supreme Court Justice David Viviano ‘90 served as keynote speaker at the general membership meeting of the De La Salle Collegiate’s Pilot Bar Association at Da Francesco’s Ristorante and Bar.
Viviano spoke of his thoughts and vision for the new organization, the group’s Lasallian, Catholic heritage, and the importance of giving back.
“I kept hearing about the Warrior Bar Association and the Shamrock Bar Association, and I said enough’s enough,” Viviano said. “We need a Pilot Bar Association.”
Viviano noted that the “school has always meant a lot to my family, and we have always been very committed to the school. We are very grateful for the great education and life lessons learned there.”
The Viviano family has a long history with De La Salle. Antonio Viviano, David’s father, graduated in ‘53, David’s brother Joe is from the Class of ‘92, and David says his son Tony is ready for the Class of 2028. Numerous cousins are also graduates.
“I think all of us would agree De La Salle helped us chart a course for our lives,” Viviano said. “It gave us a firm foundation of faith and learning. It helped to mold us and sent us out into the world with a base of knowledge and with friendships that will last a lifetime. I am very grateful.”
Viviano noted the number of graduates who have achieved a measure of success as lawyers, partners and associates at law forms, prosecutors, judges, and even politicians.
“But we all have a bond,” he said. “We all owe a debt of gratitude. We are all connected to De La Salle.
“St. John Baptist de La Salle was not a lawyer. His life’s work was to educate the poor, and he formed the Brothers of the Christian Schools. All of us have benefitted from our education by the Christian Brothers and the dedicated lay teachers and staff at De La Salle. We owe it to Brother George and Brother Tom and Brother Joe and Brother Bob and Brother Pat and all the other Brothers who kept us on the right path to make this organization a priority and invest our time and energy.”
Viviano noted how the Pilot Bar Association will provide an opportunity to “pay it forward to future generations” in meaningful ways. He believes the group has multiple goals: “To encourage and mentor students who are thinking about a career in the law; to provide guidance and resources to graduates who decide to pursue a legal education; to give advice and career opportunities to alumni who are new lawyers; and to keep older alumni in better contact with each other and build stronger relationships.”
The meeting was attended by current and retired judges, legislators, practicing attorneys, and legal industry support personnel.
Viviano, along with Michigan State Representative Peter Lucido ‘77, presided over the business portion of the meeting. Those in attendance selected an initial Board of Directors, who will serve rotating terms.
Serving on the initial Board are Paul Addis ‘93, Michael Bartnik ‘73, James Biernat ‘87, Michael Cus ‘69, Joseph DeLave ‘80, and Timothy Orlando (past parent).
The group also discussed membership, its mission statement and bylaws, and upcoming events. The newly-formed board will be meeting and discussing these items for presentation to the group at a later date.
“Our focus is on the Lasallian mission of providing a human and Christian education to all children,” Lucido said.
Various graduates in the legal profession have already been providing mentoring to students in the De La Salle Mock Trial Club. Ben Aloia ‘91 initially assisted the group, and now Kyle Kole ‘06 works closely with students. James Biernat ‘87, chief judge in Macomb County, has provided courtroom space for students to prepare for mock trial competition. Cases typically have to do with problems faced by teens, and usually involve teenagers as witnesses.
Any alumni who is a member of the bar, as well as current law school students, are encouraged to contact Alumni Relations Director Dennis Koch at firstname.lastname@example.org or 586-541-6221 to be added to the group’s mailing list.