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Monday, November 21, 2022

End-of-Semester Speeches

In this New York Magazine story about Sam Bankman-Fried and his law professor parents, there is a passage that many law students and law professors will relate to:

Barbara Fried, too, made a deliberate practice of being emotionally generous and warm with her students. She wanted to guide them toward being whole people, not just cogs in the legal machine. “At the end of the semester, my torts professor literally went,Okay, that’s torts!’ and left the room,” another former student told me. Fried, on the other hand, “gave this beautiful speech that we’ve all talked about for literally years.” She started by telling her students about her own personal reckoning: “sitting in a Chinese restaurant one day, realizing that “the goal of life is not to die with all of your options still on the table.” She closed with a poem, “Sometimes,” by Sheenagh Pugh. It’s about life defeating us often but not all of the time. “Sometimes a man aims high, and all goes well,” the first stanza ends. “Sometimes our best intentions do not go / amiss.” Fried received a standing ovation.

Tastes differ on such matters. But I have given both sorts of speeches in my own time and it is not clear to me that the second type is preferable to the first. 


Posted by Paul Horwitz on November 21, 2022 at 06:31 PM | Permalink


Her farewell comments seems rather cryptic.

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Posted by: slotv9 | Nov 24, 2022 9:38:54 AM

Prof. Kerr had some interesting tweets on this recently https://twitter.com/OrinKerr/status/1594850414582956033 I don't think I have a preference, and don't think any law professor's approach to the last day of class made a significant difference in my overall impression of the professor or the class. If the professor has a thought s/he wants to leave the class with, I generally appreciate the thought. Equally fine if they don't.

Posted by: anonymous | Nov 23, 2022 4:12:33 PM

At the end of my constitutional law course, my professor simply said, "Well, there you go. That's your racist, sexist, capitalist constitution." And walked out. Our reaction was laughter, which I'm not sure was his intention. Not because we necessarily thought he was wrong (though I'm sure some students did), but because it was so quick and unexpected.

Posted by: AspiringLawProfessor | Nov 22, 2022 8:26:22 AM

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