Release Date: May 14, 2012 This content is archived.
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.