On Monday, May 14, the University of Pennsylvania Law School hosted its graduation ceremony at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia. This year 242 students received the JD degree, 116 students from more than 35 countries receiving the LLM, one student received an LLCM, and 14 students receiving the ML. The Class of 2018 Commencement Address was delivered by Preet Bharara.
As the former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Bharara charged dozens on Wall Street with insider trading, convicting the leaders of both houses of the New York State legislature on corruption charges, and led what was considered one of the largest gang takedowns in New York history.
Bharara was born in India, and his parents came to the United States when he was just two years old. After graduating from Harvard College and Columbia Law School, where he was a member of the Columbia law review, he began what would become a noted career in public service in the private sector: he worked for two private law firms before becoming an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Manhattan.
After five years in the U.S. Attorney’s office, he joined the staff of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on administrative oversight and the courts, serving as Chief Counsel and Staff Director and helping lead the investigation of the firing of U.S. attorneys by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.
In 2009, he was nominated by President Barack Obama to become U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, where he became a thorn in the side of wall street insider traders and corrupt politicians, and a model of prosecutorial independence.
His career has followed a path that many lawyers follow: serving both in the private sector and in government service, moving from one track to another as the opportunities to do rewarding work present themselves.
Bharara currently hosts Stay Tuned with Preet, a podcast about justice and fairness, and he is a Distinguished Scholar in Residence and Adjunct Professor of Law at the New York University School of Law.
To the Penn Law graduates, Bharara encouraged them to not just use the doctrinal skills they learned from law books, but to also infuse passion into their work. He noted that lawyers who think like mechanics make the biggest mistakes.
“Practice law like a human being,” said Bharara. “Justice sometimes springs more from the heart than from the head. Law School has taught you to keep your mind sharp, but don’t ever forget to keep your heart full.”
Other speakers from the event included Dean Ted Ruger, Dean of Students Monica Monroe, and class speakers Yuko Takahata LLM’18, Shelby Stanton L’18, Nicole Pennycooke L’18, Christopher O’Brien L’18, Leah Wong L’18, Marc Diab Maalouf LLM’18, Hamza El Mouahid LLM’18.
Relive #PennLaw2018 graduation: