Class of 2012 Urged to Engage in Public Service

Winter 2012

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At Graduation 2012, a distinguished and diverse group of Columbia Law School students processed through the south lawn of Columbia’s Morningside Heights campus to the cheers of family, friends, and well-wishers. The J.D. and LL.M. degree candidates represented a wide range of professional backgrounds—including the military, engineering, journalism, and academia.

U.S. Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli, Jr. ’83, who previously served as deputy counsel to President Barack Obama and as an associate deputy attorney general in the U.S. Department of Justice, delivered the keynote address. He spoke to the Class of 2012 about the merits of public service.

“There is no better time to serve than during a time of great challenges,” Verrilli said. “That time is now. And there is no better person than you.”

David M. Schizer, Dean and the Lucy G. Moses Professor of Law; Harvey R. Miller Professor of Law and Economics, introduced Verrilli. During Dean Schizer’s address to students, he asked the Class of 2012 to take aim at the world’s most daunting challenges.

“Lawyers who are true to their beliefs and committed to making the world a better place will always be busy and challenged,” Dean Schizer said. “The world desperately needs your talents.”

Earlier in the ceremony, Professor Robert J. Jackson Jr., the 2012 recipient of the Willis L.M. Reese Prize for Excellence in Teaching, drew from many of his own experiences when speaking to the graduates.

“Rather than thinking about today as the end of your legal education, I’d encourage you to think of it as the beginning,” Jackson said. “Indeed, that is what is so special, and valuable, about studying the law. The degree you’re about to receive says much more about your capacity to learn than it does about what you already know.”

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Donald B. Verrilli, Jr. and Dean David M. Schizer