2021 Commencement Remarks from Dean Philip McConnaughay
Welcome, everyone, to STL’s tenth Commencement Ceremony. Welcome to all of our graduates, faculty and staff able to attend in person, and welcome to all of our graduates, family and friends who are joining us remotely.
Wherever you might be, we are coming together today to recognize the extraordinary achievement of the 85 students from 26 different China Provinces, with one from the United States, who this year have successfully completed the world’s only American Law Juris Doctor, China Law Juris Master dual degree program, much of it in English and all of it extremely rigorous and demanding. This is an academic and professional achievement only a few may claim.
We also are recognizing eight LL.M. graduates today, lawyers from Nigeria, Spain, Poland, the UK, Canada, the Dominican Republic, Belarus and Argentina who have enrolled in STL for an advanced degree in law.
In addition to the tremendous achievement of earning your degrees, each of you also has had several additional notable accomplishments during your years at STL.
Several of you secured public interest internships that have opened doors for all of the STL students who will follow – with the Asia Development Bank, with Zhicheng Public Interest Law Firm, with leading federal judges in the United States, with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and with the Immigration team of the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute.
Several of you studied abroad, with law schools in Germany, Spain, The Netherlands, and the United States, establishing relationships that continue to serve STL today and that have extended the reputation of our students and our law school around the world.
Several of you were named Best Oralists in international Moot Court competitions. Others were on Prize Winning teams in the Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot, the CIETAC International Arbitration Moot, the International Criminal Court Moot, the International Humanitarian Law Moot, and the Stetson International Environmental Law Moot.
Your many interesting externships included working with the Supreme People’s Court in Beijing, the First Circuit of Supreme People’s Court here in Shenzhen, the Shenzhen Intermediate People’s Court, the South China International Arbitration Commission, CIETAC in Beijing, and the Shanghai Stock Exchange.
And all of you are leaving STL for positions of leadership that will serve you, our law school, your families, and China extremely well — (i) as lawyers with leading law firms and companies, with leading State-Owned Enterprises, with highly selective government offices, and with top public interest organizations around the world; (ii) as teachers of middle and high school students, who will be exceptionally fortunate for your service; (iii) as law clerks with important courts and tribunals in China and abroad; and (iii) as post-doctoral students at leading universities.
All of you are now members of an elite group of lawyers and professionals with (i) the capacity to properly analyze the most complex commercial, social and policy challenges, (ii) the ability to advocate effectively on behalf of your clients, students, and others you may represent; and (iii) the ability to create, propose and achieve solutions that are fair and equitable and that enable the continuation of productive and peaceful relationships going forward.
You, and your fellow STL graduates before you, are setting new standards of professionalism for the emerging Chinese legal profession. All other lawyers in China look to you as examples of lawyers and professionals (i) whose honesty never falters, (ii) whose adherence to the highest ethical standards never fails, (iii) whose fidelity to the interests you represent is unmatched, and (iv) who are respected for their civility.
It is your individual responsibility, to yourselves, to your clients, to your families, and to your law school, to live up to these expectations. These are the attributes that will account for your professional reputation. The example you set will be one of your greatest contributions to China, and to STL.
Congratulations on your graduation and on all of your extraordinary achievements.