Dean and Paul Fuller Professor of Law Matthew Diller addressed the class of 2022 at Fordham Law’s 115th Diploma Ceremony on May 23. His speech on the future of the legal profession and advice for the graduates was published in New York Law Journal.
You are graduating from law school at a truly unique and liminal time in history. The experience of the pandemic has changed all of our lives in unmistakable ways, and the legal profession you are about to enter is different from the profession that existed when many of you began your studies.
After everything we have lived through, “back to normal” is no longer on the table. Instead, a “new normal” beckons us. This is our time to take stock and reflect on what we have learned about our world and each other and envision the world to come.
This “new normal” is far from utopia. So many of the issues that were pressing before the onset of COVID-19 have become even more urgent now:
- We are facing challenges to our democratic institutions and culture, stemming from the increasing polarization and fragmentation of our society.
- The persistent scourge of racism is with us with renewed force as overt white supremacy feeds into mainstream culture, fueling acts of violent hatred towards Blacks, Jews, Asian Americans, and immigrants. We are still reeling from the mass killing in Buffalo and remembering the murder of George Floyd two years ago this week.
- The widening chasm of inequality in our nation has exacerbated gaps in access to healthcare, housing, and quality living and working conditions.
- And the geopolitical landscape has darkened, as the people of Ukraine, as well as other nations, suffer terrible atrocities.
In the U.S., we play out all of our most contentious, complex, challenging, and urgent issues through our legal system. It is part of our national culture and our system of governance.