A Celebration and a Parade…

Our graduation ceremony was held this past Saturday and it was quite the day for a celebration.  The ceremony was held on the lawn in front of the law school and the temperature was at least 90 degrees.  Imagine being in a black robe for almost two hours in the sweltering heat.  We Palo Altoans are not accustomed to such heat.  One parent from Texas laughed at my displeasure with the weather and said this was nothing compared to what was to be found back home.  It’s all about perspective, I know.  But, back to the important stuff.  The graduates were resplendent in their robes and other finery.  As I sat and listened to the speeches and watched the soon-to-be graduates gather their diplomas and well-wishes from the dean I thought about all the work that went into that moment in time for each of them.  At one point, they were just like you – thinking about law school, stressing out about the LSAT, wondering what subject to tackle in the personal statement, thinking about the best person to ask for a recommendation and the list goes on.  They applied. They were admitted.  They enrolled.  They spent three years learning, working, and fine-tuning their craft.  And, now we’ve pushed them out of the nest and they are on to other challenges.  Ah, what a feeling to watch each of them walk across the stage and accept the accolades from family, friends, faculty and staff – all well-deserved.  It is a moment of celebration, for certain.  For me, though, there is also an accompanying sense of poignancy.  Here are graduates I first came to know on paper.  Turning the pages of their applications brought them to life for me until I finally got the chance to put those pages together with the “real” person behind all those words and to form personal connections.  They’re moving on and another class will walk through our doors come August.  Time marches on.

And, now, for the amusing part.  I love watching the Parade of Shoes.  Okay, so I’ve taken the liberty of naming this parade myself even though it’s not my parade or even a real parade.  But, remember this is my blog and I get to name parades here.  I think you’ll like this.  Everyone is in a black gown.  It doesn’t matter what smart outfit you have on underneath the gown as you walk across the stage because the gown hides everything.  Of course, you still want to dress fabulously because of the photo ops after the ceremony.  But what do you do if you want to make a fashion statement?  Ladies, you know the obvious answer.  Shoes! My apologies to the guys – your shoes were fine but it’s a difficult task for a guy to stand out in the crowd because of his shoe choice.  Sorry, guys, that’s just the way it is.  I saw the most amazing shoes go across that stage – all kinds of colors, all kinds of shapes, all kinds of straps, all kinds of heel heights (though mostly incredibly high).  Pointed toes, rounded toes, open toes.  Slingbacks, wedges, pumps, mules.  It was, simply, a parade of shoes.  Of course, I paid appropriate attention to the inspiring speeches, the celebratory mood and the walks across the stage, but the parade was definitely a highlight.  Can this year’s parade be topped?  Check back next year – same time, same place.  Perhaps by then the Parade of Shoes will gain a larger following and will become quite the photo op itself.

I feel I need to end on a serious note so let me leave you with some wise words.  In his speech to the class as the winner of the Award for Excellence in Teaching, Professor Dan Ho states “The degree you are about to receive is a trust.  We trust you to exercise good judgment. To wield discretion with compassion. To employ law in advance of justice. To question the question marks.”  Dean Kramer states “Law is a powerful tool.  It can be used for good or for ill, or it can be used indifferently.  It can be used instrumentally, as nothing more than a means to an end, or it can be used with a sense of respect and appreciation for its internal art and architecture and history.  What we hope is that we have helped you see the differences between these uses and have helped you to use law thoughtfully – with appreciation for what you are doing and with a sense of balance and responsibility.”  Let these words linger with you as you contemplate your application to Stanford.  And ask yourself a question.  Are you ready to shape the future?