Graduation speakers

Mindy Kaling and Preet Bharara at the Harvard Law School commencement (via Kaling’s Twitter feed).

Yesterday my colleague Staci Zaretsky wrote about Mindy Kaling’s hilarious Harvard Law School commencement speech. If you haven’t already read about or heard Kaling’s remarks, which have gone viral, check them out here.

But Kaling’s commencement speech wasn’t the only entertaining one delivered at HLS — or even the best one, in some people’s estimation. Another speaker managed to combine humor and wisdom, in magnificent fashion.

“Yo Mindy, I’m really happy for you, Imma let you finish, but Preet Bharara had one of the best HLS commencement speeches of all time… of all time!”

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Mindy Kaling

Law school commencement speakers are often dull. Even big name legal celebrities can be duds. Sure, they’ll try to slip in a joke or two to try keep their audience from falling asleep, but other than that, the experience can be a real snooze.

Enter Mindy Kaling, the comedian who stars on the TV show The Mindy Project and was a cast member on The Office before that. She spiced up her speech with humor and stole the entire show — so much so that one news article about the commencement ceremony noted that “U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara was also a speaker.” Bharara, the Harvard grad who just so happens to be an elite S.D.N.Y. prosecutor, was also a speaker. Ouch.

Keep reading to see some of the highlights from Kaling’s awesome speech…

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Justice Antonin Scalia

[I]f law school is to remain three years, costs have to be cut; the system is not sustainable in its present form. The graduation into a shrunken legal sector of students with hundreds of thousands of dollars of student debt, nondischargeable in bankruptcy, cannot continue. Perhaps — just perhaps — the more prestigious law schools (and I include William and Mary among them) can continue the way they are, though that is not certain. But the vast majority of law schools will have to lower tuition.

– Justice Antonin Scalia, in his commencement speech at William & Mary School of Law. More highlights from Justice Scalia’s remarks, after the jump.

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With finals underway and graduation season upon us, law students are left with only a few things to bitch and moan about: their job/debt situations, their commencement speakers, and maybe how much they have to pay for their regalia. This is a time for law students to celebrate their achievements and be happy, but as we’ve come to learn, America’s future lawyers would rather put a damper on the festivities to rage about one last injustice before their time in school is done.

As we noted previously, soon-to-be law grads have gotten so pissy about their law school’s selection of commencement speaker that they’ve written letters, donned protest buttons, and even organized walkouts.

We’ve heard from several of our readers regarding their schools’ speaker picks, and students from a certain well-ranked law school are REALLY unhappy…

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If I told you that a first-term Massachusetts Congressman, Joseph P. Kennedy III, was delivering the commencement address at a law school, where would you think that would be?

Certainly not Harvard Law. Kennedys start at Harvard, but they don’t finish.

Let’s see, first-termers haven’t done much, but Kennedy does have an impressive last name. He hadn’t done much as a lawyer before being elected to Congress. My guess would have been that Kennedy would be perfect to speak at something in the Suffolk Law to Northeastern Law band (or maybe UMass Law if he was desperate for exposure).

So I was pretty surprised to find out he’d be speaking at the UVA Law commencement — but not nearly as surprised as some UVA Law alums….

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Jodi Arias

* Growth was “steady” for New York’s top firms, with Latham & Watkins and Skadden Arps leading the pack in terms of gross revenue — which wasn’t surprising, considering their Am Law 100 gross revenue ranking. [New York Law Journal]

* Dewey know when we’ll be able to stop using this pun? Hmm, at this rate, probably never. Steve Otillar and Citi recently settled their dueling suits over the ex-D&L partner’s capital contribution loan to the failed firm. [Am Law Daily]

* Cahill Gordon was supposed to investigate the Rutgers basketball scandal, but the firm cited a conflict of interest, so Skadden Arps stepped in. [Insert the joke of your choice here. I don't like or watch this sport.] [Reuters]

* Surely you’ve heard about Justice Orie Melvin’s sentence by now. As it turns out, shaming a judge like you’d shame your dog online might not be enforceable… which is too bad. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

* When we last spoke about “controversial” commencement speakers, we didn’t bring up the fact that Nancy Pelosi would be pulling double duty at UC Davis and Baltimore. Thoughts? [National Law Journal]

* She’s got a death wish: the aggravation phase of the Jodi Arias trial was postponed at the last minute yesterday, and some think it’s because of the interview she gave after the verdict was announced. [CNN]

With finals underway and graduation just a few weeks ahead, law students are left with only two things to bitch and moan about: their job/debt situations, and their commencement speakers. Law school graduation is supposed to be a day that will forever be etched in people’s memories; they don’t want to remember that they were seething with rage or slumping their shoulders in disappointment. They just want to be happy.

But apparently the lawyers of the future are incapable of that emotion. In the past, soon-to-be law grads have gotten so pissy about their law school’s selection of speaker that they’ve written open letters, donned protest buttons, and even organized commencement walkouts.

We’ve heard from several of our readers regarding their schools’ speaker picks, and students from a certain high-ranking law school (but not T14, at least in our own rankings) are REALLY unhappy….

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* “I’ve been a restaurant waitress, a hotel hostess, a car parker, a nurse’s aide, a maid in a motel, a bookkeeper and a researcher.” This SCOTUS wife was well-prepared to give a graduation speech at New England Law. [Huffington Post]

* Sniffling over lost profits is the best way to get a court to take your side. Biglaw firms have asked the Second Circuit to consider reversing a decision in the Coudert Brothers “unfinished business” clawback case. [Legal Intelligencer]

* James Holmes, the alleged Aurora movie theater gunman, is being evicted from his apartment. Guess he didn’t know — or care — that booby-trapping the place with bombs would be against the terms of his lease. [Denver Post]

* The ABA has created a task force to study the future of legal education, and its work is expected to completed in 2014. ::rolleyes:: Oh, good thing they’re not in any kind of a hurry — there’s no need to rush. [ABA Journal]

* Indiana Tech, the little law school that nobody wants could, has hired its first faculty members. Thus far, the school has poached law professors from from West Virginia, Florida A&M, and Northern Illinois. [JD Journal]

* When divorces get weird: is this lawyer’s soon-to-be ex-wife hacking into his law firm email account and planning to publish privileged communications online? Yep, this is in Texas. [Unfair Park / Dallas Observer]

* Breast-feeding porn: yup, that’s a thing, so start Googling. A New Jersey mother is suing an Iowa production company after an instructional video she appeared in was spliced to create pornography. [Boston Globe]

* If someone from your school newspaper asks you for a quote about oral sex, and then you’re quoted in the subsequent article, you’re probably not going to win your invasion of privacy lawsuit. [National Law Journal]

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….

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So far this year, we haven’t had any huge commencement kerfuffles over graduation speakers at law schools. Last year, you’ll remember that Michigan Law was in a tizzy over Dean Evan Caminker’s pick of Ohio Senator Rob Portman as a commencement speaker. Portman is one of those anti-marriage equality types, and Michigan Law students actually organized a walkout to protest his divisive views.

This year, Michigan has gone with a much more conservative choice.

Paul Caron at Tax Prof Blog has published his annual list of law school commencement speakers. Michigan Law’s choice is boring, but let’s see if we can’t find somebody else on this list to get excited about…

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