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2012 Convocation Honors Law School Graduates

Ithaca, NEW YORK, May 15
On Mother’s Day, May 13, Cornell Law School’s class of 2012 had its final convocation. Presiding over the ceremonies in Bailey Hall was Stewart J. Schwab, the Allan R. Tessler Dean, who began by taking a moment not only to acknowledge the mothers who had supported all those present but also to remember a fallen son: Daniel Eduardo Ferrero, who had died of a heart attack as a second-year Cornell Law student in December 2010 and who, had he lived, would have been among the graduates that day.

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J.D. speaker Justin Haddock illustrated some of the transformational lessons of law school by bravely sharing a few items that had graced his Facebook page during the previous three years. He also recalled the words of Kevin M. Clermont, Robert D. Ziff Professor of Law, who had told the newly arrived class of 2012, “It’s true that law school’s a marathon, not a sprint. But at the end of a marathon, you should still be tired.” The class erupted into applause as Haddock told Clermont, “I think I speak for everyone here when I say that we’re tired.”

LL.M. speaker Cynthia Farid celebrated the diversity and character of the class’s LL.M. graduates, who represented more than 30 countries. To the Law School’s faculty and administration, she said, “[The] compassion that you’ve shown us in your acceptance of our diverse ideas, no matter where we’re from — I believe this is the essence of America. We thank our host country and Cornell Law School for giving us the opportunity to experience America. We are proud to be graduating from one of the best institutions in the world.”

Exhorting the class of 2012 to “commit to developing your own sense of judgment,” faculty speaker Charles K. Whitehead recounted an instance when, as he was working with a client on a complicated new financial product, his father had asked him whether selling this product to the public was the right thing to do. “These particular instruments worked out well, nothing like the synthetic CDOs that blew up Wall Street a few years ago,” said Whitehead, “But I’ve often thought about his question over the years as I’ve worked on other deals, because it’s the right question to ask, and it isn’t asked often enough.”

Following Whitehead’s speech, John DeRosa, Assistant Dean for Student and Career Services, recognized the graduates individually before convocation attendees adjourned to the Law School’s Purcell Courtyard for a reception. Among the many celebrants were members of one family representing three generations of Cornell Law graduates: Brendan H. Burns ’12, Douglas T. Burns ’83, and Arnold I. Burns ’53.

Click here to watch Cornell Law School Convocation 2012.

-- Owen Lubozynski