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CUNY Law Celebrates the Class of 2016

May 11, 2016

During his commencement address to CUNY Law’s Class of 2016, the Honorable Jonathan Lippman urged graduates to follow their pursuit of justice.

“The pursuit of justice for all is what defines our powerful and privileged profession,” Judge Lippman told the 98 graduates during the ceremony. “It is at the very heart of what it means to be a lawyer regardless of how financial successful we may be — it is our calling.”

Judge Lippman urged students to "pursue justice".

Judge Lippman urged students to “pursue justice”.

Judge Lippman, who retired recently as Chief Judge of New York State’s Court of Appeals, was given an honorary degree and served as the commencement speaker.

Judge Lippman is credited with fundamentally changing the legal profession in New York, promoting the idea of lawyering as a public service, and making New York the first state in the nation to require 50 hours of law-related pro bono work prior to admission to the NYS Bar.

CUNY Law Dean Michelle Anderson introduced him as “a staunch champion of equal access to justice.” He was instrumental in starting the state court system’s Pro Bono Scholars program and, on Friday, he urged CUNY Law graduates to continue doing pro bono work throughout their legal careers no matter what job they choose.

“Your role in ensuring equal justice in New York — indeed, your professional duty — will be in providing pro bono legal work for those in need,” he said, adding that CUNY Law students already are steeped in the virtues of the public interest.

The graduating class also presented an award for outstanding professor to Shirley Lung, who has been teaching at the law school since 1992. Lung pointed to the graduates’ “passion and relentlessness” in making CUNY Law a better place.

CUNY Law professor Shirley Lung.

CUNY Law professor Shirley Lung.

“You are the next generation of lawyers who will say ‘Yes’ instead of ‘No’, who will take on the big fights in whatever you do in what ever areas of practice,” she told the graduates. “Your work will matter. Your fights will matter and for that every single one of us is proud of you for your success.”

The class also selected fellow graduate Marc Ramirez as its student speaker for commencement. Ramirez, a self-described ‘non-traditional student’, pointed to several other non-traditional students who were graduating on Friday, and noted that they, and all of his classmates, were each a success.

Class of 2016 student speaker Mark Ramirez.

Class of 2016 student speaker Mark Ramirez.

He added that the graduates’ education and their future work is not about second chances, instead it is “about giving people whatever help, and however many chances, they need to succeed. We don’t just throw people away, people are not disposable.”

That sentiment was echoed throughout all of the ceremonies around the 2016 commencement, including the Lawyer’s Pledge ceremony the night before when Jaribu Hill (’95), recipient of the Distinguished Public Interest Leader award, told the graduates to “use your sheepskin and your Bar card to do battle to raise the issues and to right wrongs and bring about a new day.”

In his closing to the graduates, Judge Lippman reminded them to heed the call to pursue justice. “That is what CUNY lawyers do, be a force for justice, and you will be proud to call yourself a lawyer — today and everyday.”

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See more photos from the ceremony here.

View the full video of the ceremony below or on our YouTube channel.

 

Related Categories: Alumni News, Breaking, Faculty News, General News, Spotlight, Student News

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