For only the third time in history, the silence of the Gould Reading Room was broken by toasts, clinking glasses, and graduating students eating three-course meals. “Welcome to this second annual 3L class dinner,” said Eduardo Peñalver, the Allan R. Tessler Dean and Professor of Law, opening the festivities on April 19. “Convocation is obviously a wonderful celebration, particularly in its inclusion of friends and family. But tonight is an opportunity for us to come together as a small community of students, faculty, and administrators who have worked side by side as you moved toward this wonderful achievement.”
For the salad course, Michael C. Dorf, the Robert S. Stevens Professor of Law, provided wisdom from Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. Starting with the best-known part of Holmes’ quote—that one may “live greatly in the law”—Dorf added his own advice on how to live greatly in the law: by choosing meaningful work, continuing to challenge yourself after law school, and always finding new subjects to learn, from guitar to Portuguese to cross-country skiing. “Whatever you do,” he said, “don’t stagnate. By all means, live greatly in the law, but even more, just live greatly.”
With that, the entrees arrived and Dorf turned the microphone to alumni speaker James Hill, a member or the Cornell Law School Advisory Council and a senior advisor at BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager. Hill began at the beginning, talking about his first 1L assignment and the lasting impressions of his time at Cornell Law. “This place gets into your soul,” said Hill, waxing poetic about the familiar sights and sounds of being back in the reading room. “Your classmates have become your closest friends, and you’ve spent the last three years living the law in an intellectual, spiritual way. You may not appreciate how that’s affected you now, but you will someday.”
Counseling the graduating class on relationships, Hill’s advice was straight-forward: Nurture the friendships you made here in Ithaca. Attend alumni events. Cultivate your connections to the Law School. Give back whenever you can. Visit campus. On top of everything else, be proud you made it through these three intense years.
“The speeches were right on point,” said Daniel Sperling ’18, who begins work at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison this fall. “They make us realize all we’ve accomplished in the past three years and all we still have left to do. As a class, we’re very diverse, but deep down, there’s a lot we have in common. We all want to succeed—not at the cost of anyone else, but to help each other succeed together, and that’s what makes Cornell Law unique.”
“No one is here to tear you down, because we all understand that advocacy in and of itself can be really challenging,” said Gargi Chaudhuri, JD/MBA ’18, who’s going to spend 2018 as an associate at Cravath, Swaine & Moore, 2019 as a clerk on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, and 2020 as a clerk on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. “When I came here, I just wanted to help people, and what I learned is that you can help in Big Law and you can help in the nonprofit sector. Cornell is where I fell in love with litigating, and for the next three years, my education will be ongoing, figuring out how to apply everything I learned here. And I’m very excited to get started.”