Law school graduates pushed to become advocates, make a difference

Alumna Grace Speights, who is now a Board of Trustees member and an employment litigation specialist at the Morgan, Lewis & Bockius practice, told the graduates to give back to society at the ceremony Sunday.

Graduates of the GW Law School were urged to push for change in the world at the school’s celebration Sunday.

Speakers commended graduates for their three years or more of hard work, but advised them to look toward the future and dream big at the ceremony in the Smith Center.

Dean Blake Morant said the Class of 2017 put in more pro bono hours – free public service hours – than any class in the past.

“Everything that you’ve done, as I’ve seen you mature, as I’ve seen this law school progress, it just assures me that our profession is in very good hands,” Morant said.

Here are the highlights from the ceremony:

1. Become an advocate

Alumna Grace Speights, who is now a Board of Trustees member and an employment litigation specialist at the Morgan, Lewis & Bockius practice, said the graduates should give back to society and make a difference.

“If you’re able to practice in an area that you are passionate about, that passion will motivate you and keep you going even in the most stressful and grueling times of your practice,” she said.

Adam Weiss, president of the GW Student Bar Association, challenged students to use their law school education to fight for a future that people deserve.

“We’ve sat on the sidelines long enough,” he said. “From this day forward, we are all advocates.”

2. Remember where you came from

Speights said she grew up in a rough neighborhood in Philadelphia and was only able to attend the University of Pennsylvania because a lawyer in the city, Bill Brown, offered her a scholarship.

She charged the Class of 2017 to become a “Bill Brown,” and better another person’s life.

“You can make a difference by giving a little of your time, your talent and your money to causes, communities and institutions that have had an impact on or made a difference in your life,” she said.

Weiss advised the graduates to think about who they were in the past, how far they came and how hard they have worked throughout their time at the law school.

“Through what seems endless array of challenges whether journal, clinic or just civil procedure, you all acted with poise and resilience as you came up with some of the most creative solutions,” he said.

3. ‘Dream big’

Speights said she hoped her story will convince graduates to continue reaching for opportunities and never sell themselves short. She told the graduates to make an impact on the world and that having a law degree from GW will give the graduates many opportunities for themselves.

“It’s never too late to dream big,” she said.

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