It was an extra-special Mother’s Day for those at Bailey Hall on Sunday May 11, as Cornell Law School held its convocation for the class of 2014. Graduating J.D. and LL.M. students and their friends and families were treated to sunny blue skies and temperatures in the high seventies.
After a ten-year term, it was the final convocation presided over by Stewart J. Schwab, the Allan R. Tessler Dean and Professor of Law. He marked the occasion with a moment of silence for Theodore Eisenberg, the Henry Allen Mark Professor of Law and Adjunct Professor of Statistical Sciences, who passed away on February 23. ”
Vice Dean and Professor of Law Barbara J. Holden-Smith was selected by the graduating class to speak at convocation. A faculty member since 1990, Holden-Smith has been an instrumental part of the law school’s ties overseas, including serving as general secretary of the International Association of Law Schools and spending five years directing the Summer Law Institute in Suzhou, China. During her speech, Holden-Smith recalled her somewhat jaded impression of law school culture from her days as a student, noting that the atmosphere at Cornell Law was unlike any other institution. The students at Cornell came together as a community, she said, creating a special, inimitable environment. “From my very first class, I knew that Cornell students were different from the students with whom I’d gone to law school,” said Holden-Smith. “Both inside the classroom and outside of it, I could sense the spirit of a community, that rather than seeing themselves as in competition with each other, the students saw themselves as all in this together.”
Moot Court Chancellor Jonathan Underwood gave the J.D. student address. Underwood said that law school wasn’t simply about textbooks and memorizing concepts of the law, including the dreaded Rule Against Perpetuities. He said that those three years were also a time for developing as a person. Underwood hopes that his fellow classmates will go on to take everything that they learned and work to make the world a better place. “We started at Cornell with a great enthusiasm to be lawyers, and we’ve learned how to be lawyers,” said Underwood, who will be joining the Philadelphia office of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP this fall, where he will specialize in patent litigation. “Wherever we go we should staunchly keep that enthusiasm and we should couple with the skills we have gained while here.”
The LL.M. student address was delivered by Carlo D. Villarama. In his often-humorous address, Villarama discussed life in his home country of the Philippines, recommending to the graduates to one day, make the trip there. Villarama urged those who completed the LL.M. program to consider going back to their home countries, to serve in government and to work on improving their legal systems. He also hammered home to all graduates the point that becoming a lawyer is far more important than making money. “The practice of law is not a business, it’s higher than that,” said Villarama, who had studied at Ateneo de Manila Law School. “It’s about justice and what’s right. And if you can make money while doing it, that’s just awesome sauce.”.
Following Villarama’s speech, John DeRosa, assistant dean for student and career services, recognized the graduates individually.