New York State Bar Association President Stephen Younger ‘82 issued a series of challenges to the 238 law students receiving their degrees at Albany Law School’s 160 th Commencement on Friday, May 13, at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center.
Younger challenged the students to rethink established conventions in the legal field. He emphasized problem solving over the billable hour, as well as finding the appropriate balance between work and quality of life. More than anything, he said in his keynote speech, be civil, even to adversaries in the courtroom.
“We practice law in the pursuit of a higher calling,” said Younger. “So, as a result, you need to treat your adversaries with the same respect that you treat judges and clients.”
Younger continued, “If you treat them with the respect that they deserve, you will find that you can see legal problems from their perspective, which is so important in the practice of law.”
Younger also announced that each member of the Class of 2011 would receive a free one-year membership to the New York State Bar Association.
After delivering the commencement address, Younger, who is also a partner at Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler, was awarded an honorary doctor of laws by Board of Trustees Chair Mary Ann Cody McGinn ‘83.
An honorary doctor of laws was also conferred upon outgoing Albany Law School President and Dean Thomas Guernsey, who is stepping down after nine years in the position.
Class President Jennifer Charlton ‘11 also made remarks during commencement while presenting the Class of 2011 Legacy Fund Gift, which was a contribution to Albany Law School’s Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) that was matched with help from the Board of Trustees. The gift will go towards helping graduates pursuing public interest careers pay back their student loans.
“We have learned that contributing to Albany Law School is a worthwhile investment,” Charlton said. “It is only fitting that our class gift represents the support we hope to give one another.”
While welcoming the Class of 2011 to the Albany Law School National Alumni Association, association President Ryan Donovan ’01 advised the newly graduated class to find work that inspired them. He said, “Having passion for your work will make you a better attorney, and more successful and content in life.”
To close the ceremony, Dean Guernsey asked Albany Law School’s newest graduates to turn around to face their family members and friends and recognize them for their support. He said, “The fact is, we don’t do this alone.”