Class of 2008: “The Sky is the Limit”Printer Friendly Version
Anne Milgram ’96, the second-youngest attorney general in New Jersey history, stepped up to the microphone at the WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden on May 21, providing living proof for the Class of 2008 that a degree from the Law School could take these graduates wherever they want to go.
During her convocation address, she recalled ribbing Law School friends for studying too hard for a criminal procedure exam; she took the course pass-fail because she was convinced that she would never practice criminal law. As it turned out, Milgram was the only one of her pals to pursue a criminal law career, starting out as a Manhattan assistant district attorney before eventually becoming the lead prosecutor for human trafficking crimes at the U.S. Department of Justice and then New Jersey’s top law enforcement officer at age 36.
“If I can be attorney general, you can, too,” Milgram said, adding later, “The sky is the limit for NYU Law grads.”
While extolling NYU Law’s first-rate education, Milgram offered this key advice: “If you make a choice that you don’t like, in your life or in your career, make another one. There is not one path.”
Gregory Scanlan, the J.D. student speaker, also spoke about paths, likening the law school experience to “the search for the medallion,” an annual tradition in his native St. Paul, Minnesota, where, during the winter carnival, town residents would follow clues to find a small white disk hidden in the snowfilled landscape. “NYU is a place where, no matter where you’re starting from or what you imagine your medallion looks like, you can choose a path that will lead you to it,” said Scanlan. His path will take him home to clerk for a judge on the Minnesota Court of Appeals, the same court where he successfully argued a Fourth Amendment case after his first year of law school.
Coralie Colson, the LL.M. student speaker, urged fellow graduates to follow in the footsteps of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, for whom the LL.M. Class of 2008 is named. “His example of goodwill toward the opposition showed that difference does not always have to be adversarial,” she said. Born and raised in France, Colson has worked as a pro bono immigration attorney for individuals seeking refugee status in France. She plans to pursue a career in international arbitration.
Dean Richard Revesz praised the graduates and noted several initiatives that grew out of their “energy, creativity, enthusiasm and leadership.” For instance, the Leadership Program in Law and Business, a program that trains students in the intersection of law and business, was the brainchild of Andrew Klein ’08. The Alternative Spring Break Program, which funds student travel during spring break to perform law-related community service projects, was spearheaded by Mimi Franke ’08 in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The 2008 class also contributed to the larger New York City community through the Rewarding Achievement Program, the Unemployment Action Center, the Battered Women’s Project and other programs. “You have managed to make a real difference while you’ve also developed important professional skills,” Revesz noted.
Continuing the tradition of giving a class gift for the fifth consecutive year, Alexis Hoag and Vincent Sieber presented a $131,000 gift from the Class of 2008 to Lester Pollack ’57, chair of the Law School’s Board of Trustees. The Law School also honored Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe and the Honorable Thomas Buergenthal ’60 of the International Court of Justice with honorary doctorate of law degrees at the all-university commencement ceremony at Yankee Stadium. Both made brief remarks, and University President John Sexton addressed the graduates at both ceremonies.
A highlight of the convocation was the hooding ceremony—the distinctive presentation and hooding of each degree candidate. Jordan and Trudy Linfield and trustees Jay Furman ’71, M. Carr Ferguson ’60, Norma Z. Paige ’46, Warren Sinsheimer (LL.M. ’57) and Welters hooded recipients of the scholarships they endow. Two graduates from the Class of 2008, Jessica Rosen and Kevin Neveloff, were hooded by relatives and became third-generation alumni.
Revesz reminded the 2008 graduates that they will always be part of the Law School. “This morning you entered this theater as students. This afternoon you leave as alumni,” he said. “You join a distinguished community that is eager to welcome you as you make this important transition.”