Bharara Urges Class of 2013 to Take Up Public Service

The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York asked graduates to dedicate five years of their careers to public service.

Fall 2013

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During their careers, Columbia Law School graduates will be placed at the pinnacles of power and will be presented with leadership opportunities available to no one else, said Preet Bharara ’93, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, during his keynote address at Graduation 2013 this past May. Once in these roles, he added, graduates should consider working on behalf of the public good.

“The virtues of serving the public, I think, cannot be overstated,” said Bharara, who challenged members of the Class of 2013 to dedicate at least five years to public service, no matter what their career aspirations. “Not only does the world benefit, but you benefit. You grow, and you gain, and the world gains, too.”

The J.D., LL.M., and J.S.D. candidates gathered on the South Lawn of Columbia University’s Morningside Heights campus for Graduation 2013 hailed from 42 states and 23 countries; some were teachers, servicemen, engineers, and Olympic athletes before coming to the Law School. Dean David M. Schizer acknowledged the different paths the graduates will take in their careers, while highlighting the new opportunities that have arisen in the legal field since he graduated from law school two decades ago. Dean Schizer encouraged the graduates to take advantage of these opportunities, and to get the most out of the training they have received.

Professor Conrad Johnson, this year’s recipient of the Willis L.M. Reese Prize for Excellence in Teaching, also urged graduates to use their legal education to make a difference in the world.

“Your contributions are real, and we trust that you will carry the knowledge that you can make a difference wherever you go,” said Johnson, co-director of the Law School’s Lawyering in the Digital Age Clinic. “Don’t let anyone tell you differently.”

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Preet Bharara