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MSU Law commencement speaker challenges grads

Guest speaker Bryan A. Stevenson, a best-selling author and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, challenged more than 300 graduates of the Michigan State University College of Law to change the world, in a commencement ceremony on May 15.

"It's really that simple," he said. "You have earned the privilege of your law degree, and you are now empowered to make the choice to beat the drum for justice."

A visionary social justice advocate who has garnered international attention, Stevenson urged graduates to remain in close proximity to the people they serve, to change the narrative about race and inequality, to stay hopeful and to do things that are uncomfortable.

"You must stand when others sit," he said. "You must speak when they're silent."

Also addressing graduates at commencement, MSU Law Board of Trustees Chairwoman Linda Orlans, '87, urged them to improve access to justice and level the playing field in the legal profession. More than 80 percent of the people who find themselves in the courtroom have no legal representation.

"Who will represent the 80 percent underserved?" she asked. "Spartans will!"

From the graduating classes of fall, spring and summer semesters, 38 students were awarded master of laws and master of jurisprudence degrees, including the first major cohort from the Global Food Law Program, the only master's degree program in traditional food law in the United States. These students hail from 14 countries and seven states, and 67 percent are male.

A total of 297 students were awarded juris doctor degrees from the same three semesters, representing four countries and 35 states. About 56 percent are male and 44 percent are female; 28 percent self identify as a member of a minority group.

Reprinted with permission of MSU Law

Published: Mon, Jun 01, 2015

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