His address at Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium honored 213 JD graduates, 25 of whom also received an LLM in international and comparative law, 20 who also earned masters degrees from other Duke University schools, and one also earned a master of global business law through a partnership with the University of Paris. Mueller also honored 82 international lawyers who graduated with an LLM in American law, three of whom also completed specialized coursework to earn Duke Law School’s first certification in environmental law.
Mueller urged the graduates to look for opportunity in a changed and challenging legal landscape, observing that great change contributes to personal growth.
“We are forced to develop new skills and new relationships — to create something stronger and better,” he said. “[T]here has never been a greater need for good thinkers — for creative approaches to complex problems, for new ideas and innovation,” he said. “Make the most of these opportunities. … Use change to bend the arc of your own history toward personal and professional growth.”
He offered the life of the late Professor Robinson O. Everett as an example of a life lived well in pursuit of service. In addition to his service on the Duke Law faculty for more than 50 years, Everett served as chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, an active member of the bar and the Durham community, and founded Duke’s Center for Law, Ethics, and National Security.
“As Dean [David] Levi has said, he was ‘the Atticus Finch’ of small town America, the consummate ‘citizen-lawyer.’ His life — personal and professional — was indeed time well spent,” said Mueller. “Each of you will need to determine in what way you can best serve others. You will leave here today with a firm grasp not only of the law as it stands, but the law as it should be, and the law as it could be. Find something you love, some way in which you can contribute . . . something that will leave you believing that your time has been time well spent.”
At some point, each graduate “will be tested, in ways both small and large,” Mueller added. “You may find yourself standing alone, against those you thought were trusted colleagues. You may stand to lose what you have worked for. And the decision will not be such an easy call.
“When you leave here today, please do not forget why you first walked through these doors. Do not forget what you thought you could accomplish . . . the lawyer you believed you could be.”
In recognizing the graduates’ many accomplishments and contributions to the Duke Law community, Levi said they helped “to enrich the school and build a community at once intellectual and collegial, challenging and supportive.
“It is a community that will stay with you always,” said Levi of the close bonds formed among the graduates and with their professors. “We are stuck with one another now. You can’t change your alma mater or your graduates. But that is all to the good!”
Both the LLM and JD class speakers also spoke warmly of the bonds of friendship and community formed at Duke Law.
“In the short period of a year, we have found friendship, some of us even love,” said Constantin von Schoening ’10, speaking on behalf of the LLM class. Recalling a shopping trip with a classmate early in the year and the cashier’s observation that “‘Y’all ain’t from here,’” von Schoening said, “While she was certainly right back then, I am absolutely convinced that when … we make our journeys back to wherever our homes are, we are going to look back at this law school, at Duke Law School and say, ‘We’re all from here!’”
“We could never have anticipated the family we’ve become,” said Kat Shea ’10, speaking on behalf of the JD class. She praised her classmates for their talent, their sense of community, and the way they have responded to the challenges posed by recent contractions in the legal marketplace.
“We leaned on each other, we supported each other, and we grew together,” she said. “Perhaps more important, we challenged ourselves to really think about what we wanted to be. We underwent a serious process of self-examination that we may have otherwise avoided absent these huge changes in our country. And this process has grounded us. We’ve asked ourselves the tough questions. We’ve challenged our preconceived notions about what our careers should look like. And we’re better for it.”
Read remarks of FBI Director Robert F. Mueller III; Katherine Shea ’10; and Constantin von Schoening ’10.
Class of 2010 honorees:
Legal specialty awards
*Business Organization and Finance — Emily Johnson
*Clinical Practice Award — Patrick Duggan; Gabriela McQuade
*Commercial Transactions and Bankruptcy — Benjamin Wilson
*Constitutional Law and Civil Rights — Natalia Bedoya
*Criminal Law and Procedure — Jonathan Ophardt
*Environmental Law — Patrick Duggan
*Family Law — Sarah Branstetter
*Intellectual Property and Technology — Amelia Marguet and Risa Weaver
*Interdisciplinary studies — Stephen McIntyre
*Writing Award — Stephen McIntyre
*International, Transnational and Comparative Law — Michael Gilles
*Labor and Employment Law — Jillian Harrison
*Regulatory Law — Rhead Enion
*Taxation and Estate Planning — Peter McCary
*Law School Advocacy Award — Kristin Cope
*Law School Community Award — Katherine Shea
*Pro Bono Award — Eric Teasdale; David Mansfield
*Public Service Award — Veronica Allen