Chilly winds and stormy skies could not dampen the high spirits of the 238 graduates of the Columbus School of Law's Class of 2013, who concluded their law school careers to the cheers of family and friends during the law school's 124th Commencement on May 24 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington.
As with most commencement ceremonies, the class was offered plenty of heartfelt and well-meaning advice from speakers about how to thrive in their personal and professional lives in the years to come.
Law school Dean Daniel Attridge urged the departing students to use their newly minted J.D. degrees to “solve problems big and small, and make a difference in the lives of other people.”
A similar message was offered by Colin Carmello, who gave the address on behalf of the graduates. “The Columbus School of Law has done few things better than remind us of our obligation to justice,” he told his classmates.
The Commencement Address was offered by William T. (Bill) Robinson III, former American Bar Association President (2011-12) and currently member-in-charge of the Northern Kentucky offices of Frost Brown Todd LLC, a regional law firm with offices in Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Indiana.
Robinson (left) focused his message on the twin virtues of professionalism and volunteerism, reminding the audience that neither attribute ever goes out of style, and both help to shape a practitioner's reputation and public image.
“Be a professional of the highest standards in whatever career path you choose. How you conduct yourself in all that you do will be the cornerstone of your professional reputation,” said Robinson. “Each of us has just one reputation, so treat yours like precious glass which, once broken, is almost always impossible to reconstruct to its original luster.”
Robinson reiterated that lawyers are uniquely well suited to address society’s problems and injustices, and he proposed that any caring legal practitioner—not just senior or highly successful attorneys—can work for the social good.
“Your individual success in the years to come will largely be driven by the extent to which you make a positive difference in the lives of those you have the privilege to serve … not by the cost of the car you drive or the size of the house in which you live,” he said.
The Class of 2013 is already making a positive difference in the lives of others if their financial generosity is any measure. It boasts the 2nd highest giving participation rate in the CUA Law Graduation Gift Campaign history. Sixty-four percent, or 139 members of the Class of 2013, donated to the campaign and raised a total of $18,679.
At the end of the commencement ceremony, hundreds of the law school's newest alumni and their families and friends streamed out of the Shine and back to the law school for a reception; for most of them, a welcome and relaxing prelude to buckling down to study for the summer bar exam.
But before they left, they were treated to a poignant thought from Catholic University President John Garvey, who delivered short remarks to conclude the annual rite of passage.
“Now, I have a last word for you. Enjoy yourselves this weekend. You have been in school for 20 years, some of you continuously. It’s now time to leave. But it’s been a lovely place to be, and you should enjoy the last few moments before you step out.”
Selected Student Awards
Alumni Award – Day Division
Michael J. Burns
Alumni Award – Evening Division
Jenifer R. Stach
Michael F. Curtin Pro Bono Award
For #1 Academic Rank in Class
John L. Garvey Faculty Award – Evening Division
Zachary A. Swartz
John L. Garvey Faculty Award – Day Division