Justice encourages graduates to practice law with integrity

Law graduates at the 2013 commencement

May 12, 2013 - You have nothing if you do not have a good reputation.

This was the advice the Honorable Dennis G. Eveleigh, associate justice in the Connecticut Supreme Court, offered at the School of Law Commencement ceremony.

Eveleigh gave the keynote address at the ceremony held May 12 at the TD Bank Sports Center on the York Hill Campus.  The ceremony followed the Commencement for Graduate Programs earlier in the day.

He assured the School of Law graduates that the law is a great profession that will allow them to help and enhance the lives of hundreds of people over the course of their careers. He encouraged them to always conduct themselves with honesty and integrity.

"You are entrusted with not only a degree, but a charge - and that charge is to improve through your conduct and your treatment of others the opinions of those who would disparage the legal profession."

"Do not let the conduct of another attorney affect your conduct," said Eveleigh. No matter how others conduct themselves, "it does not excuse you to deviate from your own concepts of fairness," he said.

Eveleigh encouraged the graduates to remember the goal of practicing law: "Lawyers have played - and must continue to play - key roles in securing the democracy and individual freedoms that distinguish our country from many others in the world."

The School of Law awarded 149 degrees, as well as an honorary degree to Eveleigh. Professors Carolyn Wilkes Kaas, Alexander Meiklejohn, and Linda Meyer performed the hooding ceremony.

Dean Brad Saxton thanked the graduates for making a difference to the School of Law community and offered words of encouragement that they will find their way in their law careers. He warned them to be aware of "the trap." "The trap is thinking: 'I'll be happy once I get there,'" said Saxton. "If you focus too much on the destination, you won't enjoy the journey fully. Be thoughtful about what you value most. Be mindful of that and make that the priority."

Carolyn Wilkes Kaas, voted "Professor of the Year" by the graduating class, also gave remarks at the ceremony. She expressed her gratitude for the intermingling of the two most important things in her life - her family and her law career. As she looked back on 24 years of attending law school graduations on Mother's Day and then making time for her family, she urged the law students to reflect on and cherish their families throughout their careers.

She thanked the students for the honor of being voted Professor of the Year. "I realized I am a guide, a coach, the person who helps you find your own path, and then, I am your fellow traveler on your journey of becoming a lawyer. It may sound hokey, but I think it's one of the greatest jobs," said Kaas.

David Norman, president of the Student Bar Association, gave the student address. He thanked the professors for their extraordinary teaching. "They have taught us not necessarily the answers to every question - but taught us how to ask the right questions, how to formulate the right arguments, and how to analyze the issues," he said.

Norman likened the experience of one's law career to a season of baseball. "We'll probably win some. And we'll probably lose some. And we'll learn, I'm sure, that our work ethic, our integrity, and our personal satisfaction and happiness matters a lot more than winning or losing."