Photo of Valerie JarrettValerie Jarrett, senior advisor to the president in the Obama White House, delivered the keynote address at the 2010 NYU School of Law Convocation on May 14. The ceremony was held at Madison Square Garden, where 503 JDs and 543 LLMs received their degrees.

Upon receiving her law degree from the University of Michigan in 1981, Jarrett said, she embarked on what she thought would be a “lifelong career at a law firm.” After six years at a firm, though, she left to take a position in Chicago city government, and from there went on to business and politics. The key, she said, is for people to follow their passion, noting, “You must care deeply about what you do, or you will not have the endurance to sustain your effort or achieve your goals--and you will certainly not be able to lead by instilling passion in others.” Today’s graduates, Jarrett observed, are entering the workforce at a time of great uncertainty, during which they will face challenges and even adversity. But, she said, “If you lean-in and tackle adversity, with creativity and innovation, both individually and collectively, you will have the potential to create an insurmountable force to help lead our country to a brighter day.”

NYU Law graduates at convocation

In his opening remarks, Dean Richard Revesz, noted the “versatility of a legal education.” A law degree he said “doesn’t offer one path to success, it offers many.” Helam Gebremarium ’10, chosen by her classmates to be the student speaker, spoke of the expected and unexpected individuals who have provide her support and guidance during her life, and encouraged her fellow graduates to play the same role for others. This year’s gift from the graduating class to the Law School was dedicated to two students, Lucas Johnson ’10 and Mattei Radu (LL.M. ’10), who passed away in recent weeks. Johnson died on April 30 after a valiant battle with cancer; Radu on May 7 due to complications from asthma and a previously undiagnosed heart condition.  Johnson was made an honorary member of the Class of 2010, and Luc Radu accepted a degree on behalf of his brother.

To close out the ceremony, Revesz noted that graduates were about to join a global community of nearly 40,000 Law School alumni, and encouraged them to maintain connections and rely on one another. “And know that the door is always open back at Washington Square,” he said.

Alec Baldwin at NYU commencement

NYU held its University-wide commencement on May 12 at Yankee Stadium, where actor Alec Baldwin spoke before the NYU community and its guests. School of Law Trustee Martin Lipton '55 addressed the Class of 2010 in his role as chair of the University's Board of Trustees, and NYU President John Sexton, Benjamin F. Butler Professor of Law, presided over the ceremony.

Posted on May 14, 2010