Brooklyn Heights

Errol Louis delivers commencement speech at Brooklyn Law School graduation

May 23, 2017 By Rob Abruzzese, Legal Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Errol Louis, a graduate of BLS, a CNN contributor and the political anchor at NY1 News, delivered the commencement speech at the school’s 116th commencement ceremony. Photos courtesy of Joe Vericker/Photobureau

Brooklyn Law School (BLS) celebrated its 116th commencement ceremony at the Brooklyn Academy of Music where 399 students received their degrees on Thursday, May 18.

Errol Louis, the political anchor at NY1 News and a 2005 graduate from the school, delivered the commencement speech and received an honorary degree.

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Stuart Subotnick, chairman of the Board of Trustees, presided over the ceremony and led the conferring of degrees. The Rev. Patrick Keating, deputy chief executive officer at Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens, delivered the opening invocation. The graduates also heard from valedictorian Jamie Kurtz and Marissa Potts, who was elected student speaker by her classmates.

Arthur Pinto, who is retiring after 30 years of teaching at BLS, was also recognized during the ceremony.

The common theme that carried across everyone’s speech was the responsibility toward community. In the commencement speech, Louis reminded the graduates not to forget their “invisible clients.”

“Remember that you have clients beyond the ones who are paying you,” Louis said. “Justice is your client. Fairness is your client. Honesty and integrity and service are your clients, and they deserve your best effort.

“Remember your job is not just to say, ‘Here’s how to do it, how to make it seem legal,’” Louis continued. “You are meant to find a better path, whether you’re a full-time lawyer or a non-practicing attorney. You have the chance to follow or create a career path with real depth and meaning.”

Kurtz, received his diploma from his parents, Kings County Supreme Court Justice Donald Kurtz and his wife Nina Kurtz, who both graduated from BLS in 1982. In his speech, he highlighted the work of his classmates who rallied in response to President Donald Trump’s “Muslim ban” with a Brooklyn Stands Together rally in February.

“It does feel like we are living in a world where more lawyers is — for once — exactly what we need,” Kurtz said.

Potts continued the theme of responsibility when she talked about advocating for change.

“We have a responsibility, a duty and a privilege as attorneys to contribute to the movements that inspire us, to teach others, to listen effectively to those who feel overlooked and to advocate for positive change in our nation.”

BLS Dean Nicholas Allard explained to the graduates that it is their responsibility to take on the problems in the community, nation and world during this tumultuous time and challenged them to take on an active role.

“In just the few short years of your time in law school, the public regard for our necessary and honorable profession has risen, and lawyers are looked to as heroic figures in the epic struggle now underway for the heart and soul of our country and the world,” Allard said.

“In fact, lawyers are the breakout stars of 2017,” he continued. “This is a watershed moment for our profession — and you are in the vanguard of a new generation of lawyers who are well-prepared to take on the challenges ahead … And, once again, at this historic moment, lawyers and journalists in tandem can save our nation, as they have in the past.”


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