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How The Other Half Graduates: A Cooley Commencement Speech Inspired By ‘My Cousin Vinny’

It’s not every day that the student selected to speak at a law school commencement admits that he went to law school because he watched the movie My Cousin Vinny. You certainly don’t often hear Mr. Cousin Vinny admit that he thought going to law school would be the key to a job with a top salary.

But then again, you don’t often watch the valedictorian’s speech for the class of 2012 at Thomas M. Cooley Law School.

The thing is… instructive. I’ve heard a bunch of commencement speeches, but mainly from Ivy League types. The student speaker at a school like Cooley is, well, different.

Take a look, and a listen….

I know this video is a bit long, and I know many of you are at work. But pop in your headphones or pull out your iPad and at least listen to the first four minutes. You can skip the first 1:15 as it’s set up and a moment of silence for a classmate. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

You really should see it for yourself, but here are a couple of key lines by Gregory Roseto:

I decided to come to law school after watching the movie, My Cousin Vinny [laughter]. Wait I’m serious. In watching this movie, I was convinced that a kid from Brooklyn could become a lawyer.

Okay, see, these are things I didn’t know. I didn’t know kids from Brooklyn needed Joe Pesci to let them know about the exciting careers in the legal profession. I guess Cooley is servicing the “I make major life decisions based on popular movies” set. Actually, I think it’d be very cool to do a poll about which movie inspired people to go to law school, broken down by law school.

Sadly, and this is a point that I’ve made a lot of time when talking about Cooley, the problem is not going to law school because you saw My Cousin Vinny. The problem is seeing My Cousin Vinny, signing up for hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, and forgetting that Vinny isn’t sniffing a Biglaw-type salary even in the fantastical movie world. Okay? The MOVIE version of a guy like Vinny doesn’t get paid top dollar.

A little later in Greg Roseto’s speech:

Three years ago, I pictured graduation day totally different. I pictured I’d be hired by a top 100 firm, and on my way to making $150,000 a year. And I also thought I’d have the option of purchasing either a Maserati or a Bentley.

He goes on to explain that he has not been hired by a top 100 firm, he owes $150K in law school debts, and he’s thinking of selling his Honda.

But at least he’s in good humor about it.

The kid thanks the professors and talks about all the partying he did while he was in law school. He says law school was about:

GTL: And no it’s not Gym, Tan, Laundry, I’m not that superficial. It’s Greatness, Triumph, and Leisure.

I promise, I didn’t make that up. That’s at the 6:20 mark.

Hey, maybe the difference between Cooley Law and Columbia Law really is just GTL. Some law students graduate with jobs, others with greatness.

Valedictory Speech | Oliver Ellsworth Class | Cooley Law School [YouTube]

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