In his May 13 commencement address to graduates at the University of Baltimore School of Law, former U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein stuck to the high road, speaking of the importance of knowing who you are, how you want to be thought of, and not letting circumstances, even very challenging ones, alter your basic character and beliefs.
In addition to Mr. Rosenstein, guests at the Modell Lyric Theatre heard from Nicholas Hawkins, J.D. ’15, president of the UB Law Alumni Association, and Katrina Smith, valedictorian. More than 200 individuals received their Juris Doctor, Master of Laws in Taxation, or Master of Laws in the Law of the United States degree. Law Faculty Awards went to Sarah Simmons and Beatrice Thomas.
In his prepared remarks, Mr. Rosenstein encouraged the newly minted lawyers to begin their careers with some sense of what they’d like their legacy to be at the end of their professional lives, and figure out a road map that will lead them in that direction. And that planning should be done, he added, with the knowledge that “everyone’s life is a product of random events and consequential decisions” — what happens to you that you did not expect, and how you choose to respond.
“As a lawyer, even a young one, you will be a person other people look to for wisdom and strength in difficult moments. If you succeed in acquiring wisdom, you will find yourself inadequate to the task. As Socrates observed, ‘true wisdom is in knowing that you know nothing.’ But you will need to summon the resolve to take charge in unpleasant times.
“Your parents may have felt that way when they faced challenging moments during your childhood. Sometimes there are no parents to guide you. No teachers to inform you. No bosses to order you. Whether you like it or not, you will need to take responsibility and bear the brunt of any resulting criticism,” he said. “Commence now to prepare for those moments.”
Not surprisingly, there was a lot of media interest in Mr. Rosenstein’s address, his first public appearance since resigning from the Department of Justice on May 11, 2019. The commencement was covered by local and national outlets, including CNN and C-SPAN, which intends to broadcast the speech at a later date.
Later in the day, Mr. Rosenstein delivered the keynote at the annual meeting of the Greater Baltimore Committee and spoke more directly of his tumultuous tenure as deputy attorney general, with barbs directed at former FBI Director James Comey, who has publicly criticized Mr. Rosenstein. That speech generated somewhat more media interest than his comparatively milder law school commencement address.
View coverage from The Baltimore Sun, The Daily Record, CNN, WBAL-TV, The Hill, The Washington Times, The Washington Post, and even Vanity Fair. Numerous smaller print and broadcast outlets picked up versions of the larger stories.