Post Date: June 8, 2006

Harvard University’s 356th annual Commencement festivities came to a close yesterday. The Harvard Law School conferred 742 total degrees upon graduates, including 574 J.D.s, 154 LL.M.s, and 14 S.J.Ds on Thursday, June 7.

Dean Elena Kagan ’86 offered words of encouragement to the graduates before handing out their diplomas, urging them to always stand up for the rule of law. She spoke of two instances in American history — one very recent and the other generation earlier — when lawyers in positions of power were confronted with weighty decisions.

“In each of your spheres of life, and at every level of responsibility, you will face choices that have much in common with the choices that I’ve related to you today,” said Kagan. “You will face choices between expedience and principle. You will face choices between doing what is easy and doing what is right. You will face choices between disregarding or upholding the values embedded in the idea of the rule of law.”

Click here to read the full text of Kagan’s remarks. A webcast of her speech is available here. A webcast of the entire Harvard Law School degree ceremony is available here. (Real Player required.)

Former Harvard student and Microsoft chairman Bill Gates spoke at the university-wide afternoon exercises. During his remarks, he spoke about the inequalities in the world and urged the graduates to develop a more creative capitalism to fight poverty.

Harvard President Derek Bok ’54 also addressed the University’s graduates, marking his last occasion to speak as president before president-elect Drew Gilpin Faust takes office on July 1. A webcast of the Afternoon Exercises, including both Gates’ and Bok’s speeches, is available here. (Real Player required.)

On Wednesday, the class of 2007 presented Clinical Professor Bob Bordone ’97 with the prestigious Sacks-Freund Teaching Award for his dedication to his students. Doralean Cox received the Suzanne Richardson Staff Award for her contribution to student life at HLS.

“When it comes to telling your story, there are many eligible ghost-writers, but there is only one legitimate author, and that person is you,” Bordone said in his acceptance speech. “When developing your storyline, be sure that it is driven by your most deeply held values, ideals, and passions.”

A webcast of the Class Day exercises are available here. (Real Player required.)

The Honorable Guido Calabresi, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, was the Class Day speaker. Drawing from his experiences as a young law clerk and later as dean of Yale Law School, Calabresi delivered a stirring address in which he urged graduating students to have faith in the law and in human beings. “Excellence combined with decency and love and humanity is what can move the world,” said Calabresi.

A webcast of Calabresi’s remarks are available here. (Real Player required.)