I have thoroughly enjoyed the presidency of the MBA this year. There have been many events in which I have been privileged to participate or play a role. Please let me share with you the one which I have found the most gratifying.
The opportunity to speak to new members of the bar at the admission ceremonies conducted by the Supreme Judicial Court at Fanueil Hall is offered to officers of the association. There are usually eight or so ceremonies each December and three or four each June corresponding with the announcements of the results of the biannual bar examination. As an officer of the MBA for the past five years, I have had the privilege of speaking to a number of bar admittees.
Inspired in part by my former partner Cindy (now the Honorable Appeals Court Justice Cynthia J.) Cohen and in part by many of you, this is what I have said:
Candidates for admission to the Bar, on behalf of the Massachusetts Bar
You should feel very proud today; your parents, spouses, partners, children and friends, should also feel very proud.
You have worked very hard, studied, achieved, accomplished.
You will leave here today lawyers, attorneys, counselors and
You will have something that very few in any society do: the license and the privilege to practice law.
You will represent the rich and the poor;
You will help some buy their first house and help others sell their last home;
You will plan people’s estates and counsel them on their affairs;
You will prosecute the criminal and defend the innocent;
You will represent the injured and speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.
Seek to become excellent lawyers; you owe that much to yourselves, your families and those who have supported you.
Learn continually, develop your skills, perfect your craft.
Be proud to be lawyers.
Remember, it was lawyers who created our Constitution and lawyers who have defended it for over 200 years.
Today, with what you have accomplished, you know that you can do anything. You should know that the only limits on what a single lawyer can accomplish in this country are his or her imagination and his or her courage to use it.
So as you sit here, I ask you:
Will you settle for mere excellence?
Yes, will you settle for mere excellence or will you seek magnificence?
Will you seek not only to be the best you can be as a lawyer but all that you can be?
Will you assist others, share your knowledge, your skills, your talents?
Will you work to improve our laws and protect our constitutions?
Will you shape our profession and save it from becoming but a trade controlled by business and finance and unavailable to the average citizen?
Will you be a lawyer to whom others come not only for legal advice but for advice and counsel of all kinds?
These things you can do and do best as a member of a bar association.
Join your local bar association, your county bar association, the BBA, the MBA,
Come learn and share and work with others who make this profession what it should be.
Decide later today if you will accept my challenge and it is this:
As your career started here in this great hall, so let it end.
Return here in 20, 30, 40 years, whenever your career is coming to an end;
Enter and stand at the rear, remember this day;
Look back on your career, which will then seem like a whirlwind compared to the gentle breeze of law school;
Assess what you have done;
Then tell yourself, tell yourself honestly:
I was magnificent.
To the magnificent professionals who staff the MBA and to the magnificent lawyers who are the MBA, thank you. It has been an honor and a pleasure.