Holder Pushes Public Service at HLS Class Day

Under the shade of the Holmes Field trees, U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. urged the Harvard Law School Class of 2012 on their Class Day to pursue public service after their graduation.

Holder, who is the nation’s first black Attorney General, emphasized the importance of leading, serving, and giving in his address.

“You and your classmates will fan out across the world, trying to make a difference, trying to make your mark,” Holder said. “Exactly how do you plan to get there?”

He told the students that they are “in pursuit of an elusive ideal, not merely to serve clients, but to do justice.”

Students noted the theme of public service throughout Class Day.

“The tone of the entire ceremony was about giving back,” Law School student Yonina E. Alexander said.

In keeping with that theme, the Law School also conferred awards on students and professors during the ceremony for public service and community leadership efforts.

Law School professor William B. Rubenstein received the Albert M. Sacks-Paul A. Freund Award for Teaching Excellence, an award bestowed by the graduating class.

“Professor Rubenstein is fantastic. He was definitely one of the best teachers. His speech was extremely moving,” said Law School student Daniel B. Saver.

Rubenstein, who teaches courses including “Civil Procedure,” spoke about the students’ role in justice and the capacity of the law.

“The law’s promise was that it too could help ameliorate human suffering,” Rubenstein said.

Commenting on the graduates, their teachers, and the special guest speaker of the day, Dean of the Law School Martha L. Minow said, “It was really special to have the combination of people who were here today…. Each of these people stood for justice.”

At the conclusion of the ceremony, graduates, families, and guests attended a reception on Jarvis Field.

“It’s a culmination of the years at law school, the final two days before you go into the workforce,” said Jerry Tack, grandfather of Law School student Joshua A. Matz. “It’s honoring people for their work.”

Other students reflected on their own graduation.

“I’m extremely excited. I’m the first person in my family to go to college, so it’s a really big day for everybody,” Law School student Jessica L. Lewis said. “Everybody’s proud.”

—Staff writer Laya Anasu can be reached at layaanasu@college.harvard.edu.

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