On April 4, the NYU School of Law chapter of the Order of the Coif inducted Charles Stillman ’62 as an honorary member. Stillman began his career as a clerk for the Honorable Irving R. Kaufman, after which he worked under U.S. Attorney Robert Morgenthau at the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District. In 1977, he became a founding partner of Stillman & Friedman. “He is one of the very leading criminal defense lawyers in the city, and he is a model of excellence in the legal profession,” said Dean Richard Revesz in his introduction of the honoree. “He is an inspiration for our students, and a paragon of integrity.”

The Order of the Coif recognizes those law students who have achieved academic excellence. Students who finish their sixth semester of study in the top 10 percent of their class and graduate magna cum laude earn membership. The name “Coif” originated in Medieval England, when the best lawyers were known as sergeants-at-law. Upon their appointment, they received an elaborate white headdress, called a coif, to be worn in court. These men, who later added the wigs to their daily outfits, became known as sergeants of the coif. In his introduction of the honor, Oscar Chase, Russell D. Niles Professor of Law and president of NYU Law's chapter of the Order of the Coif, said that one historian noted that “so important was the coif that neither the justice nor the sergeant should ever take off the coif, not even in the king’s presence.”

Stillman, in congratulating the provisional student members of the Order of the Coif, emphasized the many opportunities in direct public service, as well as pro bono work that the law profession offers. “That should be the hallmark of what we are as lawyers,” Stillman said. “Don your wigs and come join us in pursuing justice, serving well our clients, and helping make ours a better society.”

Posted April 18, 2012