Jones encourages navigating careers with care
The School of Law’s 2023 commencement ceremony featured U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of Georgia Steve C. Jones as its keynote speaker, and he encouraged the new graduates to navigate their legal careers with caring hearts.
“About 100 years ago I attended and graduated from this law school,” joked Jones, a 1987 graduate, adding more seriously that “I consider that one of the greatest opportunities I’ve had in my life.”
He congratulated the graduates on finishing their legal journey and noted their futures are bright.
“You will be the future justices, judges, great lawyers, law deans, law professors and teachers, administrators, as well as appointed and elected officials,” he said. “You will be successful … you will find that being an attorney is an honor. It will fulfill your dreams and bring a lot of joy to you.”
However, being a lawyer will come with challenges, Jones noted. He recounted the struggles of lawyers through the years and asked why lawyers would sometimes subject themselves to abuse and hostility.
“It was because they cared about people and the effect [the law] would have on them,” Jones said. “They cared about helping people.”
Jones encouraged the new graduates to give their best to their clients. “Today as new lawyers you must care about people and helping them. Your success will not necessarily hinge on what of kind car you drive or whether you get the corner office in the building but whether you made a positive difference in someone’s life,” he said.
He said that, as lawyers, each graduate would have to make tough decisions throughout his or her career but choosing to care about others would always be the right answer.
“The public depends on us to be lighthouses to provide the light to guide them to safe ports. You’ll never find a lighthouse down in a valley,” he said. “It always stands tall on a hill. As lawyers, we stand tall. A good lighthouse lets its light shine all the time, in good times, in bad times. It weathers the storm. As lawyers, people will come to you at the darkest times in their lives. They will need you to be that lighthouse to guide them to the justice that America offers.”
In closing he reminded the audience of the importance of the law and lawyers.
“The law is the foundation on which America is built. As judges and lawyers, we are the protectors of that foundation,” he said. “It is a privilege that you must respect, and be thankful to have the opportunity to be a lawyer.”
1987 alumnus Brian Cain (right) and his wife, Kim, are all smiles with Cain Family Scholar Raymond Molina. Cain, who served as the 2022–23 Law School Association president, delivered an inspirational message to graduates during the ceremony. Photo by Dennis McDaniel.
Classmates (l. to r.) Samantha Luzader, Megan Tappan, Alina Salgado and Emily Crowell are excited for the big day. Photo by Grad Images.
Master in the Study of Law candidates (l. to r.) Nhi Hylton, Eunsik Kang, Chana Martin, Tiara McRae and Jaquarius Raglin are ready for the ceremony to begin. Photo by Grad Images.
Celebrating the end of law school are (l. to r.) Blake Heyer, Brian Subin, Michael Lehmann and Ben Marcus. Photo by Grad Images.
Husband and wife, Joshua Allen (at piano) and Nasreena Ali-Allen, performed the national anthem for their classmates during Commencement. Photo by Grad Images.
Jonah Chadwick Griego celebrates after crossing the stage.
During the ceremony, Class of 2023 Student Bar Association President Alex Hammock paid tribute to four classmates – Katelyn M. Brooks, Sam Davis Bergsagel, Ellen Elizabeth Scott and Caleb William Thompson – who had passed away. Photo by Dennis McDaniel.