BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Campaigning for president in 2008, Sen. Barack
Obama was asked why he had chosen a career in public service rather
than corporate law.
"When I was at Harvard Law School," he responded, "I had a
teacher who changed my life -- Martha Minow."
That influential teacher -- now dean of Harvard Law as well as
the Jeremiah Smith Jr. Professor of Law at that institution -- will
be the keynote speaker May 19 as the University at Buffalo Law
School celebrates its 123rd commencement.
Known as an expert in human rights whose scholarship has focused
on members of racial and religious minorities and women, children
and persons with disabilities, Minow has written about the legal
and ethical issues arising from private military contractors, the
management of mass torts, transitional justice, and law, culture
and social change.
She is the author of more than 150 articles, and her books
include "In Brown's Wake: Legacies of America's Educational
Landmark" (2010); "Partners, Not Rivals: Privatization and the
Public Good" (2002); "Between Vengeance and Forgiveness: Facing
History After Genocide and Mass Violence" (1998); "Not Only for
Myself: Identity Politics and Law" (1997); and "Making all the
Difference: Inclusion, Exclusion, and American Law" (1990).
Following nomination by President Obama and confirmation by the
Senate, she serves as vice chair of the board of the Legal Services
Corp., an independent nonprofit corporation that promotes equal
access to justice and provides grants for high-quality civil legal
assistance to low-income Americans.
A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Michigan and the
Harvard Graduate School of Education, Minow received her law degree
at Yale Law School before serving as a law clerk to Judge David
Bazelon of the U.S. Court of Appeals and U.S. Supreme Court Justice
Thurgood Marshall. She joined the Harvard Law faculty in 1981.
The May 19 commencement ceremony, to be held at 3 p.m. in the
Center for the Arts on UB's North Campus, will also include
awarding of the Dean's Medal -- presented by Dean Makau W. Mutua to
an individual who is distinguished by his or her commitment to
justice and the rule of law -- to Hon. Samuel L. Green, a 1967
graduate, who retired at the end of 2011 as the longest-serving
justice of the Appellate Division, Fourth Department, New York
State Supreme Court.
In addition, the Ken Joyce Excellence in Teaching Award will be
presented to Steven R. Sugarman, an attorney in private practice
and 1985 graduate of the law school. Sugarman, a popular adjunct
professor of basic and advanced mediation courses in the law
school, has extensive training in neutral mediation and has built a
large mediation practice with the firm of Pusatier Sherman Abbott
& Sugarman in Kenmore.
A total of 212 JDs will be awarded.
Since its founding in 1887, the University at Buffalo Law
School -- the State University of New York system's only law school
-- has established an excellent reputation and is widely regarded
as a leader in legal education. Its cutting-edge curriculum
provides both a strong theoretical foundation and the practical
tools graduates need to succeed in a competitive marketplace,
wherever they choose to practice. A special emphasis on
interdisciplinary studies, public service and opportunities for
hands-on clinical education makes UB Law unique among the nation's
premier public law schools.