Thursday, December 18, 2008

Speech Speech Speech!

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So a few weeks ago I was enjoying dinner in Palm Beach Gardens and I get a call from a 904 number. I didn't recognize the number and it was pretty loud in the Yard House so I let it go to voicemail. I checked the message a few minutes later and it was one of the Deans of my law school. *immediate panic* So needless to say I excused myself, stepped outside, and returned his call. Fortunately it was good, no, great, news and he told me I had been elected by my classmates to speak at our Graduation/Convocation ceremony that would be held on December 13. I had just been asked to give a speech, and of all things I was speechless. I sheepishly thanked him for the call and the great news and slowly made my way back to the table. I had to let everyone there in on my news since I was pale and kind of out of it, but I imediately decided that I would not tell my family and let them be surprised when they either saw me on the program, or saw me walk onto the stage.

During finals, my mind was obviously in other places. I was thinking about how I was going to spend my (short) break, thinking about the bar exam, and what to say to my classmates and professors, all BEFORE I was worried about any of my tests. I finally settled down a bit and made it through my finals. During that time however I would think of things that I felt were important to mention and write them down so I could come back to the speech later. Unfortunately the 5 minute window I was given could only fit in about 1/4 of the "Thank yous" and other things I felt like discussing. Finally after exams had ended and the looming speech came together. Instead of writing about it any more I will just post what I read. It isn't some amazing oration from the likes of Darrow, Hand, or other amazing legal minds, but it is mine, it is pure, and it is how I feel and therefore I am proud of what came of it and of being a Juris Doctor.

The speech:

"Wow, the last time I was in front of this many legal minds I was a 1L and giving my oral argument in LP 2 – based on my performance and grade I received in that course I am not sure I am qualified to be up here speaking to you today. Nevertheless, thank you and I am truly honored to be speaking on behalf of the December 2008 graduating class from Florida Coastal School of Law. May it please the court…

First I must thank Coastal’s outstanding administration that has worked with the students and faculty to make this convocation ceremony a reality. Thank you so much to (names omitted b/c I imagine not all people want to be thrust into the blogosphere) Dean G, Dean T, MD, CW, DB for the reception, BTfor the written program today – if you enjoy what I have to say – I wrote it all – if you don’t enjoy my remarks please contact B, BM and his security staff, MB& GM, JL and his facilities staff for preparing the atrium for the event today and our student ambassadors. We all truly appreciate your hard work and dedication in order to make this a special day for our graduating class.

Second, I must apologize to my family, that’s right, apologize. Once I heard from Dean T that I was elected by my classmates to speak at this ceremony I decided to keep that honor to myself and surprise my family today – so I am sorry – Surprise!

Finally, I must thank family and friends. I imagine that all of the graduates today have had great support from their family and friends during the emotional and intellectual rollercoaster that is the law school experience. Some of us may have family members or friends that have played an important and supportive role in our lives who are no longer with us or are unable to be here today. They should be thanked as well because without their love and support along the way our accomplishments would not be a reality. Though they are not here, their love and support is very evident in our accomplishments that are being celebrated here today.

I would personally like to thank my parents, my grandparents, my amazing wife, my uncle, my father in law, and finally all of my friends who have been so supportive through this experience. I truly know that I would not be here today without your love and support. I love you and you are my inspiration. Thank you for everything!

Lots of words and thoughts come to mind when I think of the law school experience – and some of those words should not be repeated to an audience. One word that consistently comes to mind is adversity. Merriam Webster defines adversity as “a state, condition, or instance of serious or continued difficulty”. That pretty much sums it up. We have all experienced adversity in our lives, some early in life, some later, and some of us while trying to figure out what on earth to say to classmates and professors at convocation instead of studying for finals. Though I understood adversity and knew what it was, I was yet to really experience it in my life – that is, until I decided the law was to be a part of my future.

Once I decided to further my education and go to law school I did what everyone else does and took the LSAT. Unfortunately I bombed it. After about a year off I couldn’t resist and knew that to get where I wanted to be, there was no way around law school and finally signed up for the test again. Before I took the test I received a letter from my dad that I read often. In one part of the letter he reminds me as he has told me all along that as long as you honestly and truly do your best, that is all you can ask of yourself and everything will work out. I took the advice that I had heard all too often and before I knew it, for better or worse, I was starting law school.

As the infamous first semester was coming to a close it was finals time. On the day of my first final, I got up, checked my email and there was a note from my mom encouraging me to do my best and letting me know she was thinking of me. Then I received a call from my dad. I am not sure if he was making sure I was awake, or was just trying to pull me out of my study psychosis, but his message was the same, do your best and everything will be fine. They are a great team.

Finals came and went, but there was always one thing I could count on before each final, an encouraging note that always brought a smile, and a phone call telling me to just do my best.

Prior to my very last law school final, you guessed it, there was that email I had grown to expect, and about 45 minutes prior to the final my phone was ringing. The message was loud and clear as always – as you’ve done throughout your journey, do your best and everything will be fine.

Our law school journey is now coming to a close and the adversity we have experienced is now ending, however this is not the end of the road. We still face great adversity in the upcoming months of preparation and the bar exam, but I assure you as I pass this message on to you - if you honestly and truly do your best in your preparation for and during the exam you will be successful.

Once we are all first time bar passers, we will likely still face adversity in the ongoing ethical and moral challenges in the legal profession, as well as the current economic conditions and marketplace. However do not view these difficulties as a hindrance but instead view it as an opportunity to showcase your skills learned here to help society, reaffirm to yourselves and more importantly to society that our profession, is a noble and honorable one. Do your best. If we all use our natural born gifts as well as the skills acquired here to better ourselves as well as the world we live in we will have nothing but success. Florida Coastal December 2008 graduates, the future is bright, and I am honored to be a part of it with you all.

Thank you."

This Saturday was an amazing time. A beautiful ceremony, I didn't die during my speech, great time with family & friends & a great party after! I couldn't have asked for anything more!

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This is a shot of Me & my friend Will. I met Will the first day of orientation and we had our first class ever together, and we ended up having our last class ever together. He's a great friend and it is really fitting to have my last photo at the law school with him.

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