Northeastern Law Professor Addresses UConn Law School Graduates
By Allison Thompson, Office of University Communications
HARTFORD, Conn. -- Just as they attended law school for different
reasons, members of the University of Connecticut School of Law
class of 2001 will take
different paths once they embark on their legal careers. In remarks
to the class at this morning's commencement, Clare Dalton, a
professor at Northeastern
University School of Law, encouraged the nearly 200 graduates to
take time during their professional journey to find their passion.
"My first exhortation to you is to learn, if you do not know it
already, what moves you, what kind of engagement will bring you
satisfaction," said Dalton, who
Law School Dean Nell Jessup Newton introduced as one of her personal
heroes. "There needs to be time for each of you to ask, now that so
few barriers remain
between you and your life as a lawyer, 'Now that I have arrived, where
exactly am I, and is it where I want to be? If not, how can I turn
this arrival into a
departure, this place I am into a stepping stone, bearing my weight
as I move towards some other destination?'"
Dalton originally intended to become an English professor, carrying
on a family tradition of teaching. But at her father's behest, she
became a lawyer. Throughout
her academic career, Dalton discovered other interests that she
incorporated into her chosen field of study, thereby enriching
her legal career.
"Whenever I have asked myself why I have been drawn to a particular
professional role or opportunity or challenge, I have been able to find
an answer lodged in
my personal history and early passions," Dalton said. "Whenever, on the
other hand, I have found myself drained rather than nurtured by my
commitments, it has turned out to be because I was chasing someone
else's idea of a successful or satisfying life and not my own, even
if I had persuaded myself
Calling herself a "slow learner," Dalton wished the students luck
in discovering the connection between their profession and passion
faster than she did.
"What I would hope for you is that you could figure it out sooner
with fewer false starts and earlier fulfillment," she said.
Some graduates will find that working with those who lack access to
or a voice in the legal system will engage them, Dalton predicted.
Others may find time that
doing pro bono work in addition to their day jobs will satisfy them,
while still others will discover that opportunities for service save
them from the desolation of
an unengaged professional life.
Despite the various influences that may prompt the graduates to
help those in need, they will want to do so when they feel they gain
from the experience, Dalton
"The reality is that we give more readily when we feel ourselves to
be rich, and that giving comes most easily of all when we feel ourselves
enriched by the very
act of giving," Dalton said. "In professional and spiritual terms, I
want to wish you, members of the class of 2001, a life of riches. May
the practice of your
profession make meaning of your lives, and may it bring you strength,
courage and capacity for joy."
Dalton joined the faculty at the Northeastern University School of
Law in 1988. She is a leading feminist legal scholar and a pioneer in
the development of legal
education focusing on domestic violence.
In 1990, Dalton founded Northeastern's domestic violence clinical
program. In 1993, she established the Domestic Violence Institute,
education, research and service organization, and continues to serve
as its executive director. The Institute today is considered a signature
program for the law
school, and has become a nationally recognized center for addressing
domestic violence and its impact on the lives of women, children and
May 2001 Releases