Dean Minow to grads: ‘Use your powers of imagination’

Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minow congratulated Harvard Law School’s newest alumni May 29 on Holmes field. “We searched the world for each and every one of you—and you have exceeded our hopes,” Minow told the Class of 2014, which included 576 J.D.s; 167 LL.M.s; and 7 SJDs.

Martha Minow

Credit: Martha Stewart Martha Minow

She took time in her brief speech before graduates, families and friends, for “one more moment of law school, one more lesson.” Minow told each graduate: “Use your powers of imagination along with your powers of analysis.

“Imagination may seem a quality belonging to inventors and writers of fiction more than to lawyers. Yet, with imagination, you can brainstorm ways to enlarge the pie rather than simply divide it when negotiating a business deal, or a settlement of a divorce case.”

Minow said she hoped the law school “has been more than buildings and even more than classes and tests, clinics and papers. Harvard Law School is a gathering place joining people from across many worlds.”

She challenged graduates with a series of questions:

Can you create for your colleagues, collaborators, and clients a gathering place joining people from across differences? Can you create safe spaces to examine challenging problems? You will need to earn the trust of others. How? It helps by being trustworthy. Can you converse with others on their journeys even when they are adversaries or competitors? Can you create a station away from the mess that brings clients to you? Can you offer sympathetic ears and attention and enough of a common language to enable you to understand the world views of others, and to help them understand yours? Can you brainstorm options and open new doors or return home to see it anew? Can you strengthen others by listening, by taking apart problems and opportunities layer by layer in the landscape of law, business, and non-profits transforming in this globalizing time. If you can, then the rule of law, insights from the past, and imagination of the future will afford magic and meaning for you and for those you assist.

Minow told graduates that their influence reflects what Harvard Law School is, who they are, and who they will become. “I ask you to use your influence to better your communities and the world; I ask you to dig deep into your talents, take risks, make a difference. I also ask that you say in touch with us, as we will miss you.”

Read Dean Minow’s prepared remarks here.