The 82nd Attorney General of the United States, Eric H. Holder Jr., addressed the 2012 graduating class at Harvard Law School, urging the newly-minted lawyers to continue the tradition of service encouraged at Harvard Law School and to use their skills to define the country’s future.

“However you decide to make a living – at law firms, in clerkships, or in the U.S. military; at major corporations, in public defender offices … you must put your skills to use in helping to define our future.   And you must keep up the habit of pro bono service and advocacy that you established here.”

Holder, who was sworn in as the Attorney General in 2009, is the first African-American to hold that post. In 1997, President Clinton named Holder to served as Deputy Attorney General. During his career, Holder served as U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia and he was an associate judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, nominated by President Reagan in 1988.

Several news media organizations covered Holder’s speech at HLS. Excerpts from that coverage are included below:

Harvard Magazine: “U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Addresses Harvard Law School

“You’ve learned a great deal,” U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. told members of the Harvard Law School (HLS) class of 2012 at their Class Day ceremonies on May 23. “But now…”, he continued, “it’s time to face a difficult truth. …[T]he question today is not what you know, but what this knowledge can empower you to achieve—and to contribute.” Read more.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder told Harvard Law graduates he’s not offended that he was the school’s fourth choice for Class Day speaker, behind comedians Tina Fey and Jon Stewart, because the school wasn’t his first choice either.

Holder, who attended Columbia Law School, addressed students Wednesday as part of the school’s commencement events.

Harvard Crimson: “Holder Pushes Public Service at Class Day”

“You and your classmates will fan out across the world, trying to make a difference, trying to make your mark,” Holder said. “Exactly how do you plan to get there?”

He told the students that they are “in pursuit of an elusive ideal, not merely to serve clients, but to do justice.”

Holder, a native of New York City, graduated from Stuyvesant High School where he earned a Regents Scholarship. He attended Columbia College, majored in American History, and graduated in 1973. He graduated from Columbia Law School in 1976.

While in law school, he clerked at the N.A.A.C.P. Legal Defense Fund and the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division. Upon graduating, he moved to Washington and joined the Department of Justice as part of the Attorney General’s Honors Program. He was assigned to the newly formed Public Integrity Section in 1976 and was tasked to investigate and prosecute official corruption on the local, state and federal levels.

Prior to becoming Attorney General, Mr. Holder was a litigation partner at Covington & Burling in Washington.

Mr. Holder lives in Washington with his wife, Dr. Sharon Malone, a physician, and their three children.