Congratulations on your graduation from law school. Whether it was a smooth sail to the horizon or a flailing fall across the finish line, the important thing is that you did it! You entered law school a relative neophyte in the world of torts, civil procedure, and contracts and emerged as someone with an impressive roster of Latin terms that roll off your tongue with ease. You may not love or appreciate the rule against perpetuities, the statute of frauds, or the Uniform Commercial Code, but in some way, shape, or form, you conquered them all.
Now is the time to rest briefly before you turn your attention to the task ahead. Yes, you have a big journey ahead of you as you begin your bar exam study, but don’t neglect to appreciate the here and now – you have accomplished something very significant. You are the recipient of a Juris Doctor and can now put J.D. behind your name with confidence; be proud of this accomplishment and satisfied in this moment. To help you reflect on your achievement, here is a little historical trivia.
You Survived The Socratic Method
You can now say that you survived the Socratic Method known to terrorize 1Ls every fall. In Socratic dialogue, as you remember, the focus is on creative questioning (and questioning and questioning) to help respondents think critically about a topic. In short, the goal is to increase understanding through inquiry. The Greek philosopher Socrates lived in Athens, Greece around 400 B.C. and his methods have been debated and discussed by Plato. You have put yourself in good company.
You Are Part of A Tradition of Justice
The concept of justice is older than recorded history. The Egyptians, the Greeks, and the Romans each revered a god or goddess of justice.
We have come to expect certain things from Lady Justice. She carries scales—these apparently date to Egyptian times when the god Anubis used scales to weigh the deceased person’s soul against the feather of truth; the scales now also symbolize the weighing of evidence (a concept that you know well from countless law school exams and from your penchant for crafting persuasive counterarguments against your non-law-school-trained friends and family). She often carries a sword to symbolize her authority and advance the concept that justice can be as swift and final as a sharp sword; note that the sword is carried in Lady Justice’s right hand since it comes after the weighing of evidence. Finally, Lady Justice is often shown blindfolded to symbolize objectivity; while even the best designed justice system often falls short, Lady Justice continues to promote the value that the law should be fair and impartial.
Cities all across the world have statues to their version of Lady Justice. Look around your city now that you are a bona fide Juris Doctor; when you see her, give her a nod and recognize that your study of the law has made you colleagues in an imperfect, but often noble, tradition of justice.
You Have Earned The Opportunity To Join The Bar
As you transition to your bar exam study ahead, remember that you have earned the opportunity to sit for the bar exam and this, in and of itself, is something to be proud of and to take seriously.
The origin of the term “bar” apparently comes from the furniture in medieval European courtrooms (a barrier or bar) that separated participants in the trial from the public. There was also a bar in old English Inns of Court; learned students were “called to the bar” when they had attained a certain level of expertise. The term “bar” has become synonymous with those who are formally admitted to the practice of law.
You have earned the right, the privilege, and yes, the drudgery, of studying for and sitting for the bar exam. You have completed all requirements for graduation and you are headed for the bar. You may be just one person, but this is no small accomplishment.
Congratulations on your graduation. Walk ahead knowing that lots of history and tradition is on your side. Bonam Fortunam (good luck) in the weeks ahead!