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Law School grads are urged to celebrate and inspire their sense of community

Publication Date: 
June 17, 2013
Stanford Report

Dean Elizabeth Magill and Professor Robert Weisberg are featured in this Stanford Report article highlighting the Class of 2013 graduation ceremony at Stanford Law School. Both Dean Magill and Professor Weisberg delivered addresses during the ceremony. 

The mood matched the perfect weather at Stanford Law School's Class of 2013 graduation ceremony on Saturday, June 15, where the sun was out, the laughter flowed easily, and a sense of camaraderie and community was in the air.

M. Elizabeth Magill, Richard E. Lang Professor of Law and Dean, welcomed the 1,500 or so family and friends of the JD and Advanced Degree recipients to the ceremony at Canfield Courtyard and introduced the first of two student speakers, Olivia Henrietta Claire Jackson, who was selected by the international students to deliver remarks.

Noting that this was one of the largest international classes that the Law School has had, Jackson ticked off the ways in which they had been immersed in American culture during their stay in Palo Alto – some forming rock bands, others learning beach volleyball or cheerleading at football games, one Chinese student even joining the Stanford marching band.


Weisberg reached back several years to when these new graduates first applied to Stanford Law School, referencing a few of their law school application essays and noting how diverse their experiences had been before they came to law school. He also predicted that their careers in law would be likewise diverse.

"If your paths to law school were so indirect, even circuitous, why should your paths from law school be fixed and linear?  Your essays were stories of change. So, remain open to change and be prepared to be buffeted by it. Be in the moment when job or personal change happens, but also step back and watch it happen. Sometimes we look back and things that looked accidental appear to have had some destiny about them. But the reverse is perhaps more telling. Sometimes we look back to the nature and consequences of choices and appreciate how accidental the occasion or the consequence of those choices has been."


Dean Magill closed the ceremony with the traditional charge to the class.  She charged the graduates to remember the opportunities their training made available to them and also asked that they critically reflect on the limits of that training. First she reminded them of the promise of law and of legal training.

"At the loftiest level, law is a substitute for force as a way of resolving disputes. A society that respects law uses it as a check on both the force of the state and the power of individuals. It's no accident that the first order of business for leaders of a military coup is dissolving or otherwise disabling courts or other bodies that impose legal constraints on the state. Nor is it an accident that, in the absence of functioning legal systems, the physically powerful, the brutal, and the fiendishly clever dominate others."