Professor Paula Franzese Celebrates the Love of the Law
Throughout our nation's history, lawyers have risen to the fore again and again to safeguard the rule of law and to exalt the promise of equal access to justice for all. That is all the more reason to take stock of the power that the law degree gives and the good that can be achieved when our expertise is wielded with both technique and compassion. Last month, we took time out to do that in my first year classes, during a celebration that began twenty years ago and that I call "Loving the Law."
The idea was born when, as a new law teacher, I read Justice Cardozo's address to the first graduating class of New York University Law School. He told the new lawyers, "Love the law, and treat it as if you love it." Inspired, I aimed to nurture in my classes that same respect, passion, and love for our craft. While the law may not always love us back, love for its promise is still a choice. Exercised persistently, it can move mountains.
Reaching the mountaintop was the theme for the celebrations, as a cadre of exceptional attorneys shared their experiences from the trenches and the higher ground. Speakers included Raymond Brown, Jr., Jessica Kitson, and Seton Hall Law alumni including the Hon. Steven Mannion, the Hon. Michael Hammer, Stacey Adams, Christopher Adams, and Raj Mukherji. Exhorting the students to the advance the goals of social justice, Jeff Ullman noted, “There is no speed but full speed; no level of commitment but full commitment. Now is the time. Go forth and do good!"
I regularly encourage my students to remember where they come from, and to honor the sacrifices of those who came before them. In that spirit, class members brought family to the celebration and expressed their gratitude to those whose support and encouragement made all the difference. Those expressions of love and esteem gave us all an unforgettable gift.
One of my students, Marjan Moussavian, wrote to me afterward, "This day meant so much because it showed me that no matter our differences as lawyers, we each have the power to use our expertise to do good.” First year law student Alison Thompson added, “I got to reconnect with the reasons that motivated me to become a lawyer. It was refreshing to take some time away from the stress of daily life as a law student to remember why I am pursuing a career in the law.”
I concluded the proceedings with this: “Remember who you are. You are champions of the underdog, givers of hope, and the rule of reason’s last best defense. Show the world that the pursuit of justice can be love made visible. When some try to indict humanity, be their basis for reasonable doubt."