LL.M. Speaker: Nikolay P. Bebov
Dean Schizer, Dean Polo, honorable Judge Sack, honorable professors, guests,
Columbians, Colleagues, Friends,
Today, the center of the world is right here, in this magnificent treasury of knowledge! Because you are here, my fellow graduate LLMs and JDs! Coming from all around the world with your talents, strengths, and rich and diverse backgrounds.
But I am not going to praise you for what you had been before admission to Columbia Law School – you were already the chosen ones! Nor am I going to praise you for how you have improved yourselves after being here – it was a hard time, toiling under the threat of this mythological monster, the Columbia Curve – yet still worth every minute of listening, reading and discussing. And it was an emotional time worth every new friendship!
I am going to praise you for what you, we, will achieve in our lives from now on!
You will become the best among lawyers; you will be the highest among professionals! Our professors at Columbia taught us well! No other university could have done it better! American law broadened our professional horizons! And our being together here will allow us to have a network for a lifetime – and whereas JDs and LLMs did not always have the chance or time to get to know one another better. I urge everyone of you, every CLS alumnus, from now on to regard your fellow Columbians as trusted partners in our profession, wherever we are and whatever we do.
You will achieve a lot in your personal lives! You will have love and you will give love! You will have passion, and you will give passion! You will receive joy from your family and friends and what you do will be joy for them! You will see your dreams, even your most naïve dreams, realized – just as one of our dreams, naïve for many, is being realized today. And here is one such dream for you to take: you will see, I assure you in your lifetime, that some of you will have a child or a grandchild who will become an astronaut! Who will be fulfilling her or his dream to fly in space and her or his dream to discover the unknown! And who will be looking back to, and for, the Earth, all of it, as our blessed home!
And, not least, you will do much as persons who are entrusted with the highest responsibility to live honestly, to harm no other, to honor each according to his dignity. No other profession, no other art, and no other science, than law, is or has ever throughout history been more responsible for the fortunes of society. And, with little or with more, so we must be. We will care for the nature and the environment – not because we depend on it (and, yes we do) but because nature is beautiful! And we will care for those human beings who are less fortunate than we are not because we depend on them but because they do on us. Many of you have done much already, by serving hundreds of hours of pro bono work for disfavored communities or by simply being charitable when asked. We must go on and do more. Let us think of Africa, the first home of the human kind but also the poorest continent today, and let us think of the many other poverty-stricken or war-torn places around the world (whether in poor or rich countries). We can do a lot because, as one great writer and politician put it, people are all equal, all noble! Let us be grateful for our fortunes and improve those of others.
All this is hard but possible, a long away from us but worthwhile going for. Let me give you one example why all this is achievable! If you allow me, I admit without any prior consultation, I will name just one of the many extraordinary LLMs of the class 2007! Not only has she been an excellent student! Not only has she been friendly, and encouraging, and bright. But also she became mother while she was here, at Columbia, in New York. Ladies and gentlemen, please greet Ms. Simone Tatsch, LLM 2007 graduate!
Columbians, Colleagues, Friends,
Today, the center of the world is right here! Tomorrow, I wish you to sail the seas, to fly the skies, to discover the world, to find what is good in yourselves and in others, to reap the fruit of every noble effort you make!
And to remember this great day and all who are part of it! And to remember our Alma Mater, Columbia Law School.