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Professor Norman Ho’s Speech at the 2021 Commencement Ceremony

Norman Ho
Professor of Law, STL

I have always believed that graduation speeches and visits to the dentist have something in common – the shorter, the better.  So, I will keep my remarks short.

我一直觉得毕业致辞跟看牙医有个共同之处,那就是时间越短越好。所以我尽量少说一点。

Congratulations on your graduation.  I also want to congratulate your family members and friends who, unfortunately due to pandemic controls, could not be here to celebrate with us.  You have all accomplished very much, and it has been my privilege to teach all of you at STL.

恭喜大家顺利毕业!同时我也想向因为疫情防控原因未能到场与我们一同庆贺的家人和朋友们道一声祝贺。你们一路走来成长了许多,能在STL与大家师生一场,我也倍感荣幸。

As you leave STL and enter the workforce, I wanted to leave you with 3 thoughts.  Specifically, these 3 thoughts have to do with your new identities:

在你们即将离开STL,开启职业生涯之际,我想与你们分享我的三个想法,而这三个想法都与你们即将拥有的新角色有关:

  • First, your first identity – regardless of whether you become a practicing lawyer in a law firm, in a corporation, in government, or whether you become an academic, or whether you continue your studies, or whether you do something completely unrelated to law – remember that you are not just entering a profession, but you will have an identity as a member of a big, great, and historical community of people who care about the law and its place in society.  Law school is a form of professional education.  Law school is a professional school, like business school or medical school.  But want makes law school and the study of law different?  You are joining a 2000+ year-old community, a fraternity, a sorority of great thinkers and individuals and philosophers who spent their lives and who still do keep thinking about and debating the place of law in society, the relationship between law and morality and the like – people from thousands of years ago such as Aristotle, St. Thomas Aquinas, Shang Yang, to philosophers working today.  You are joining that deep and rich and uniquely independent academic and intellectual tradition that is law, legal philosophy, and legal history.  That is an awesome and spectacular thing and one you should cherish for the rest of your life.  And that is what makes you unique from graduates from other professional schools, such as business schools. 
    首先是你们的第一重角色:不管是在律所、公司、政府当执业律师,是成为一名学者,还是选择继续深造,亦或是从事与法律完全无关的工作,都要记住你不仅仅是进入了一个行业,而是成为一个由心系法律及其在社会中的地位的人士组成的社群的一部分,成为这一庞大、优秀而具有历史意义的群体中的一员。
  • Second, your second identity – please do not forget that being a lawyer is ultimately a customer service profession.  So, you will have an identity of a customer service provider.  It may be easy sometimes to feel powerful, since lawyers are respected in many societies and hold positions of power and influence in many jurisdictions.  It may be easy to let that power go to your head and feel self-important.  But remember, you are ultimately providing services to customers and to clients. 
    其次,是你们的第二重身份:不要忘了律师本质上是一个服务型行业,所以你们的第二重身份是客户服务提供者。由于律师备受尊崇,又在很多地方位高权重,所以你们有时可能会觉得自己无所不能,也可能深陷自己的力量而过于自大。但请记住,你只是在服务客户罢了。

    The associate in a clothing store is provides clothing customer service.  The waiter in a restaurant provides dining customer service.  The physician provides medical customer service.  Lawyers provide legal customer service.  You are different from all of these people just based on the kind of service you provide.  So, remember to stay humble and remember you are in the customer service business.  If you work at a law firm, your “customers” will mainly be your clients.  If you work in government, your customers will be the public.  If you become a law professor or legal academic, your customers will be your students and also others who work in your research field. 
    服装店里的导购向顾客提供买衣服的服务,餐厅里的服务生向顾客提供餐饮服务,医生向顾客提供医疗服务,而律师提供法律方面的服务。你与这些人的区别仅仅是提供的服务种类不同而已。所以,请记住要保持谦逊,记住自己身处客户服务行业。如果你就职于律所,那你的服务对象主要是你的客户;如果你在政府机关工作,则要服务大众;如果你成为一名法律教授或法律学者,你将服务于你的学生以及你研究领域中的其他人。
  • Third and perhaps most important – even though today you are transitioning from STL student to STL alumnus, remember that you will always have this identity -i.e., the identity of being part of the STL community and STL family.  And so you will always have a home here at STL, no matter where you go and what you do.  And I hope you will come back and visit us. 
    你们的最后一个,同样也是最重要的一重身份:虽然今天大家即将从STL的学生变成校友,请记住你们永远都是STL大家庭的一份子。无论你们走多远,无论你们从事什么工作,家,永远都在这里等你。我也期待你们以后常回家看看。

I hope you will remember these 3 identities.  Again, congratulations. 

最后,希望大家能牢记自己的这三个身份。再次恭喜大家,毕业快乐!