“I know all of you will do well, you're graduating from an excellent law school,” Blake Morant said Saturday as 82 students received their degrees during the graduation ceremony of the University of Montana School of Law.
During his introduction, interim dean Greg Munro announced that he would be retiring from the School of Law this summer and introduced the next dean of the school, Paul Kirgis, who was previously a professor at St. John’s University.
Kirgis thanked Munro for his more than two decades with the school before introducing the graduation speaker – Morant – who he called “one of the leading lights in legal education.”
Morant is the president of the Association of American Law Schools, a collection of almost 180 schools of law across the country. He is also the dean of George Washington University Law School, the third largest school of law in the country.
In his talk, he said that some people have questioned how worthwhile a degree in law is, but stressed that the problem-solving and creative skills law school graduates have attained are more important now than ever before.
“We live in a global and very complex universe,” he said.
Morant also asked the students to thank and congratulate their parents, family, friends and significant others who supported them along their way through law school.
“We all know we never do this alone,” he said.
He described his first job out of law school, working as an Army JAG at Fort Bragg. Morant’s first assignment involved writing a report for the acquisition of a tank the general wanted for training. Through his research, Morant found that using the piece of equipment in the training area would disrupt the environment of a protected species of woodpecker.
Faced with the task of telling the general who ran the base that he would not get his new piece of equipment because of a bird, Morant instead found another option, moving the training area to a different part of the base. That type of creativity – finding a solution while staying in the boundaries of the law – is the kind of talent that will serve new graduates well, he told the students.
Apart from the work they will do for their clients, Morant also urged the students to find ways to give back and enrich their own communities.
“While you do well, remember also to do good,” he said.
At the end of his speech, Munro presented Morant with a gift from the School of Law, a book of paintings and drawings by Charlie Russell.
Donald Stuker was picked to give the student address at the graduation ceremony, asking his fellow graduates to keep a few things in mind as they went off into the professional world. Among his advice was to be nosy and dig deep into what is going on around you. Stuker got a laugh from the crowd when he made his second point, to “give up on happiness.”
“Instead of seeking happiness and conversely never finding it, try being fulfilled,” he said.
He told the graduates to take people as they are and not assign them labels, not to worry about being normal, and to spend more time with friends and family.
“What good is a large home if you have no one to help you fill it,” Stuker said.