“It’s on You…To Construct a Life of Meaning and Joy”

The 125th Graduating Class of Stanford Law School Reminded To Reflect on Who They Are and Who They Will Become

"It's on you... to construct a life of meaning and pleasure" - DRAFT

On June 16, 2018, under the shade of a large tent in front of Crown Quadrangle and within view of Hoover Tower, 283 students from Stanford Law School’s Class of 2018 were presented with their diplomas. As the graduates were congratulated on a job well done by faculty and their fellow students, the theme of the ceremony gradually yet consistently turned to the hard work yet ahead. And, more importantly, with the skills, relationships, experiences, and knowledge gained at Stanford Law, the graduating class was reminded that they are extremely well positioned for this hard work.

“The Most Amazing Community”

"It's on you... to construct a life of meaning and pleasure" - DRAFT 1
Earl Joyce Rivera Dolera, LLM ’18

Earl Joyce Rivera Dolera, LLM ‘18, the first of two students selected by the graduating class to speak, shared her thoughts on her law school experience. “What gives this university its soul is the people and the relationships that were built and made this experience nothing short of our favorite, overused descriptive word—amazing!”

Dolera went on to engage her fellow classmates in projecting into the future. “Respect your own pace in life—whether it be quick, slow, or in utter glorious stillness. And when you reach that stage where you are in a position to give back and lift other people up, please do so without hesitation. We are remembered not so much by our accomplishments, but by how we let other people feel at that moment when they open their world to us.”

"It's on you... to construct a life of meaning and pleasure" - DRAFT 2
Omar Ghazanfar Qureshi, JD ’18

Omar Ghazanfar Qureshi, JD ‘18, after practicing his comic routine on the audience (Qureshi recently performed to about one third of the graduating class at a stand-up competition), cautioned his classmates to not get too comfortable. “Don’t forget to consistently ask yourself what is it that you really want in life. You are the most amazing group of people I will probably ever know, there is a vibrancy here and you are brilliant and capable and have skills, so do your best. But, also remember that you don’t know everything, you can come back and ask for help. This community will always help, just ask.”

“What Will You Use Your Superpowers For?”

Lisa Larrimore Ouellette, Associate Professor of Law, was selected by the graduating class to receive the John Bingham Hurlbut Award for Excellence in Teaching and addressed the audience during the ceremony.

"It's on you... to construct a life of meaning and pleasure" - DRAFT 4
Lisa Larrimore Ouellette (left) with Courtney Cronin, JD ’18 (center) and Katherine Takakjian, JD ’18 (right)

“In your time at Stanford, you have not only learned to speak the language of the law…you have also learned to use the law.” Ouellette ran through a litany of accomplishments: “You helped write a will so a Native American couple’s tribal regalia could be preserved by their grandchildren…you helped a prisoner protect the right to observe a religious holiday by winning an appeal in the Ninth Circuit…you won a ruling that the government wrongfully withdrew protection for the bi-state sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act…you’re basically The Avengers of law school graduates.”

In spite of these accomplishments, Ouellette reminded the class that “having a Stanford Law degree doesn’t mean that you have all the answers. It’s ok to say ‘I don’t know.’ It’s ok to change your mind. And it’s ok to keep asking the important questions, since what I think your Stanford degree does mean is that each of you has an impressive toolkit for tackling them.”

“I hope you will take the time to reflect on what entering the legal profession really means to you. Who is going to look up to you as their superhero? What will you do with that privilege? What will you use your superpowers for?” Click here to read the full speech.

“It’s On You”

M. Elizabeth Magill, Richard E. Lang Professor of Law and Dean, closed the diploma ceremony with her annual ‘charge’ to the Class of 2018. During her remarks, Dean Magill told the capacity crowd of family, friends, and students about the important responsibility ahead for the graduates.

“You have to decide who you are going to be—what kind of professional and what kind of human being…Your job is to construct a life that has meaning for you, and brings some joy to you. And you have to do this in spite of the fact that you do not control many important things that will affect your life.”

Dean Magill continued, “This simple and obvious truth is empowering. You decide everything that is important to constructing a life of meaning and pleasure. But ‘it’s on you’ is sometimes going to be very, very hard. Choosing to think and spend your time on the things that have meaning and bring joy to you—that will be hard. Choosing how to react to others who are toxic or angry, to treat them with dignity and respect and understanding—that will be hard. Choosing how to respond to disappointment, pain, bad luck, and heartbreak—that will be hard. Choosing to stick to your values in the moments where it is hardest—that will be hard.”

But, Dean Magill went on to say, Stanford Law graduates have been given two great gifts that will help them to construct a life of meaning. “You have been given the great gift of being educated into a profession where our most basic obligation is to represent another—not ourselves. And, you have been educated in a profession that has at its heart a noble principle: a commitment to structured, peaceful ways of resolving disputes.”

“I think you have been given some gifts that can help you construct a life of meaning and joy, but it’s on you.  It is your job to construct a life of meaning and joy. Try your best to remember every day that it’s on you, and do remember that all of us here know you are up to it.”  Click here to read the Dean’s full charge to students.


  • The 2018 Dean’s Award for Excellence in Service to Stanford Law School was presented to Karin Lou Ding, JD ‘18.
  • The 2018 Staff Appreciation Award was presented to Marion Miller, Stanford Law School Reference Librarian and Lecturer in Law.
  • The 2018 John Bingham Hurlbut Award for Excellence in Teaching was presented to Lisa Larrimore Ouellette, Associate Professor of Law