Although he has never practiced law, Charlie Rose ’68, T’64 told the Law School’s 2016 graduates that his legal training at Duke was key to his success in journalism and broadcasting.
The Peabody Award-winning co-anchor of “CBS This Morning” and host of the long-running “Charlie Rose” show on PBS addressed graduates at their hooding ceremony in Cameron Indoor Stadium on May 14. At Duke Law, Rose said, he learned how to think, how to argue, how to analyze, how to listen, and, “more importantly, how to ask questions after I listen.” Questions, he added, can be a metric for success: “They have the power to carry forward your curiosity,” leading to innovation and discovery.
Rose spoke to graduates receiving JD, LLM, and SJD hoods after completing a range of degree programs at Duke. Among the 214 members of the JD class, 14 also earned an LLM in international and comparative law, 15 also earned a master’s degree from another school at Duke University, and five also earned an LLM in law and entrepreneurship, the first graduates of the unique dual-degree program.
Ten attorneys receiving LLM hoods completed the one-year program in law and entrepreneurship and 95 lawyers from more than 40 countries were hooded after completing the one-year LLM in American law. Three graduates received the SJD, the highest degree in law, after completing course work, written and oral qualifying exams, and a dissertation.
Eighteen distinguished state, federal, and international judges received the degree of Master of Law in Judicial Studies after completing two summers of coursework at Duke Law, conducting original research, and completing a scholarly thesis.
Rose, known for his conversational, in-depth interviews, offered graduates a series of life lessons, which he called “Rose’s rules,” gleaned from 25 years of talking “with the famous and not-so-famous.” He counseled them to be aware of their strengths and weaknesses and true to their values; to reject limitations on their dreams; to act on opportunities without delay; to be willing to lose themselves in something larger than their ambitions; to build and maintain strong relationships; and to stay “a little crazy” because difference can fuel innovation. He stressed the importance of hard work and “grit” to success and of being willing to account for occasional, inevitable failure.
“Don’t be afraid to say, ‘I have failed,’” he said. “Don’t be afraid to let that be a motivator for you. And don’t be afraid to say, ‘I’m sorry for something that I’ve done and for something that I didn’t intend to do.
“You have the right stuff,” Rose told the graduates. “Do the right thing. Make your country proud, make your family proud, and … make yourself proud.”
Speaking on behalf of the Judicial Studies graduates, Judge Johnnie B. Rawlinson of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit said that she and her classmates chose to enroll in the master’s program to improve as jurists, aware that each case they hear is “the most important case we will ever decide” to the litigants involved. “Through this program, we have been given a renewed confidence in our continued ability to apply the rule of law and the precepts of justice to decide each case fairly, equitably, and individually,” she said.
International LLM speaker Dai Tajima, a corporate lawyer at Allen & Overy in Tokyo, noted the warm friendships his classmates forged in spite of their diverse backgrounds, nationalities, religions, and cultures. “We were able to do this because we tried our best to understand, accept, and respect our differences,” he said, calling on his peers to take their commitment to forging mutual understanding back to their home countries. “Our role will be making the world a better place. Whatever we do, whatever tough challenges we’ll face, the key to overcome the challenges may be mutual understanding. What we learned at Duke is much more than just law school credits. Now it’s our turn to contribute to the communities we belong to.”
JD speaker Richard Lin also reflected on the quality of friendships he made among a diverse “squad” of students, analogizing their supportive alliance to that he found prior to law school, over 11 years as a federal law-enforcement officer. Listing their many achievements, he called his classmates “unstoppable,” “selfless” in finding ways to benefit the group, and committed to bringing about societal change through action. He offered a special thanks to Senior Lecturing Fellow Diane Reeves, his legal writing professor and a former prosecutor, who helped him overcome self-doubt during his first year at Duke, convincing him “that solid people who do the right thing on a daily basis can make a world of difference.
“I am here because of her guidance, and I am forever grateful that Duke Law has professors who teach, mentor, and change our lives,” said Lin, who is now serving in the U.S. Navy.
Thanking the graduates for their many positive contributions to the Law School, Dean David F. Levi invited them to remain connected in the years to come and offered them best wishes for fulfilling careers in the law.
“We hope that you will find ways to lead and to serve in your communities. There will be many times when you will face difficult challenges in your professional life. We have confidence that you will make us proud as you meet and surmount them. You have already done so.”