By Charisma L. Miller, Esq.
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
A new class of lawyers graduated from Brooklyn Law School on Friday, June 7. At the 112th Commencement Ceremony, held at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center, BLS Dean Nick Allard hailed the “new guardians of our enduring democratic republic”: the graduating class of 2013.
“The impending legal revolution will occur on your watch. Everyone wants more for less,” Allard said to the bright-eyed new lawyers as they prepare for a world where traditional legal jobs are slowly transforming.
“ So you newly minted lawyers will have to be faster and cheaper, and also better, which means thoughtful, sound, wise and creative. The walls protecting the traditional citadel of law practice are tumbling down by superstorm trumpet blasts of change as surely as those ancient walls of Jericho fell – letting non-lawyers in to do work that can be done cost-effectively and well without a J.D., and letting all of you out to pursue your life’s work wherever and however you choose; free to use your hard-earned license for critical thinking and critical problem solving, in myriad new ways; maybe doing work lawyers never did before.
“You will also grasp and master how advanced information technology in a mobile interconnected world disrupts and transforms law, and you will teach us at the law school how best to prepare your younger legal siblings to follow you using new technology.
“It is also very fortunate for you that a microcosm of the world is within almost an arm’s reach radius of Joralemon Street because just as the world is within Brooklyn, the age of the completely insular, local lawyer is dead and gone forever,” Allard noted about the way in which Brooklyn has assisted in the graduates’ preparation for understanding and practicing law in today’s multicultural and hyper-connected world.
“Your education has given you the power to create your own destiny, whether in a law firm, taking a company public, structuring a strategic merger, serving in government, or working in public service where you might represent an abused child, a developmentally challenged adult whose caregiver has died, an asylum seeker from a war-ravaged region, or as an entrepreneur working at one of hundreds of start-ups in the Brooklyn Tech Triangle, or maybe even starting and growing new companies like City Storage or Subway Sandwich, as so many Brooklyn Law School graduates have done before.
“A good legal education, which is expensive and includes demanding reading, writing, scholarly dialogue and practical training, is more necessary, more valuable than at any time before,” Allard said as he addressed the value of a legal education with a subtle reference to the recent lawsuits filed against law schools, including BLS, by former students who charged that they were duped into spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a legal education with the expectation of receiving a high-paying legal job after graduation.
“What, indeed, is the worth of your legal education? What value will it have to justify the investment you and your families have made with your dollars, your efforts, and your time?”
“First, by mastering the language of liberty, the language lawyers speak, you learned much more than how to do well for yourself, you now can do good. Today… you are lawyers, and that is a noble profession, proudly independent and connected to the unselfish service of others.
“Second, you have learned how to make society work…. As lawyers, you will also protect the rights and property of people and facilitate the flow of commerce at home and abroad…. Third, you are now equipped to be the mentors and role models teaching upcoming generations -- lawyers are the secular rabbis of our society.”
Allard reminded graduates that the legal profession is not static, it is ever changing, as are the ways in which a lawyer can experience a meaningful legal career. “[R]emember how flexible are your skills. Your education enables you to work in countless private sector and public sector fields. … It is not easy, but look for jobs where they will be, not where they were. … If you seize opportunities, many of you will find yourselves eventually doing worthwhile, meaningful work in fields you never expected, or perhaps did not even exist when you left the law school.”
Though he said that “finding a good job is hard,” Allard encouraged the graduates noting “[y]ou are ready for the new world of law. The education you have gained at our great law school, the sweat equity you have put into your studies, your hours and hours of training, the honing of your mind into the finest tool known to mankind prepares you to be agents of powerful legal change – change for the better.”