“In my mind, those of us who are lawyers or who have the benefit of a legal education have been given a special gift, and we bear special responsibilities as a result,” Bradford said. “As lawyers and legal scholars, we need to be prepared to accept a greater share of the obligation to lead and to influence the country.”
Bradford spoke to an audience of 212 JD graduates, 30 of whom also received an LLM in international and comparative law, and 13 of whom completed graduate studies in other schools and departments and Duke University and affiliated graduate schools. Seventy-eight international lawyers received an LLM and 14 comprised the inaugural class of Duke Law School’s LLM in Law and Entrepreneurship (LLMLE). Two SJD graduates were hooded.
Using anecdotes from her current work in the Senate, Bradford said she has been empowered by the problem solving skills she learned in law school and encouraged students to apply their own skills broadly in areas including policy, economic, and social work. She emphasized that “there is no one ‘right way’ or prescribed way for you to go out and succeed and make a difference.”
“Legal education in places like Duke Law School has evolved to provide us with not only knowledge about legal subject matter, but also with a host of skills and analytical techniques which yield great fruit and bounty in whatever arena of human activity they are focused,” Bradford said. “Yes, we are all taught to ‘think like a lawyer,’ and it is just that type of thinking that will allow each and every one of you to pick up the torch and contribute, irrespective of the path you choose.”
Andrew Roth spoke on behalf of the JD class while Naokuni Kuwagata served as LLM class speaker. Both addressed the sense of community they felt at Duke and how it helped them through difficult times.
Roth recalled how several of his classmates provided him immediate assistance after his computer died and caused him to lose his course materials during final exams his first semester at the Law School.
“I did not flunk out of law school that semester, and that is directly attributable to the community weʼve built,” Roth said. “As we all scatter to firms and non-profits and clerkships and whatever the future holds for each of us, thatʼs what I hope — and know — weʼll never lose. It has served us well for three years, and it will continue to serve us well forever.”
Kuwagata spoke of how the Duke Law community supported him in March following a devastating tsunami in his native Japan. He encouraged his classmates to demonstrate that same dedication to members of the communities they inhabit after graduation.
“Some of us will work in the United States, some of us will continue their studies here or elsewhere in the United States, and some of us will go back to our home countries to become leaders in our communities. We will face challenges and overcome them,” Kuwagata said. “We must do it, and the global Duke community will help us doing so, just as my friends here supported me when I felt depressed about the disaster in Japan.”
Dean David F. Levi congratulated the Law School’s newest alumni and thanked them for having helped to “enrich the school and build a community at once intellectual and collegial, challenging and supportive.”
“You have our very best wishes for a fulfilling career in the law,” Levi said. “You have earned the right to join our distinguished body of alumni who practice law and serve the common good all over the world. We are proud of you. I am proud of you, and proud to have grown with you during these past three years.”
Duke Trustee Peter Kahn ’76 greeted graduates after they crossed the stage to welcome them to the alumni community.
Class of 2011 honorees:
Legal specialty awards
*Business Organization and Finance — James Michaels and Ryan Spiers
*Clinical Practice Award — Patricia Hammond and Shirley Wang
*Commercial Transactions and Bankruptcy — Christine Farmer and Jason Pearl
*Constitutional Law and Civil Rights — Ari Cuenin
*Criminal Law and Procedure — Adam Schupack and John Woodlee
*Environmental Law — Eric Roberts and Ryan Stoa
*Family Law — Rebecca Gedalius
*Intellectual Property and Technology — Michael Swita
*Interdisciplinary studies — Phillip Rubin
*International, Comparative, and Transnational Law — James Pearce and Matthew Smith
*Labor and Employment Law — Rebecca Gedalius
*Regulatory Law — Jonah Retzinger
*Taxation Law — Karen Otto
*Writing — Bryan Leitch ’12 (This award will be presented in 2012.)
*Law School Advocacy Award — Benjamin Baucom and Leslie Mahaffey
*Law School Community Award — Phillip Rubin
*Pro Bono Award — Katelyn Love
*Public Service Award — Corinne Oshima