The best lawyers in Medieval England were known as sergeants-at-law; upon their appointment, they received an elaborate white headdress, called a coif, to be worn in court. These men, who later added the wigs to their daily outfits, became known as sergeants of the coif.
Today, at many law schools, a society called the Order of the Coif recognizes those who have achieved academic excellence. Students who finish their sixth semester of study in the top 10 percent of their class and graduate magna cum laude earn membership. On April 20, NYU chapter president Oscar Chase, Russell D. Niles Professor of Law, welcomed the 2009 candidates and honorary member Frank Guarini, ’50 (LL.M. ’55).
Before Guarini received his J.D. from NYU School of Law he had already traveled most of the world. He served from 1944-46 in the United States Navy in the Pacific Theater, and, shortly after returning, left to study at The Hague Academy of International Law in the Netherlands. “I had a curiosity to see the world,” he said. “I was able to learn from everybody who came from a different culture.”
With his election to the New Jersey State Senate in 1965, Guarini began a career of public service spanning more than 40 years. Starting in 1979, Guarini was elected to serve seven consecutive terms in the United States House of Representatives, representing the now defunct Fourteenth Congressional District in New Jersey. He is also a founding member of the law firm Guarini & Guarini since 1950. In 1997 President Clinton appointed him as the U.S. Representative in the United Nations General Assembly.
Guarini, for whom the Frank J. Guarini Center for Environmental and Land Use Law is named, stressed the importance of determination and diversity in his remarks, and urged the 2009 graduates to give their best and pave the way for the next generation.