2011 Class Day Remarks on Behalf of the HLSA


Remarks to Harvard Law School 
Graduating Class of 2011 
on Behalf of the Harvard Law School Association

MAY 25, 2011

Neil L. Chayet '63

My name is Neil Chayet, and if that sounds vaguely familiar to you, it may be because I’ve just begun the 35th year of continuous daily legal broadcasts on CBS Radio.  I have said, “This is Neil Chayet Looking at the Law” nearly 8,700 times; each one is only 60 seconds long, and I’ll try to be almost as brief today.   

It’s great to be here with you on this day that you probably thought would never come, and to wish you well on behalf of the Harvard Law School Association which, by the way, is celebrating its 125th Anniversary this year.  You may not realize it, but you are already members of HLSA---a few years back it was decided that when you became a student at Harvard Law School, you also become a member of HLSA---and we also decided to do away with dues!  You have joined the ranks of more than 37,000 members around the world, an unbelievable network of talented men and women, who can help you think globally, as you act locally—so stay in touch; you need them and they need you.  And just in case you thought we may not really be with it, Harvard Law School and HLSA actually have an App--- just go to the App Store (not right now), search for Harvard Law School, and download the free App---you’ll like it.   

It’s good to be with you on this beautiful day, and forgive me, but I can’t help mentioning how great it is to see so many women among you; you may take it for granted, but in my class of 1963, there were only six women---and we were much the poorer for it.  Now, just a few thoughts to share with you as you go forward from today.  First, stay humble---there’s the story of the Rabbi whose Congregation gave him a medal for humility---and a week later they took it away from him, because they caught him wearing it.   You’re at the top---remember those all along the way.  And share your knowledge and your talent, give speeches, teach whenever you can, join the boards of charities; you’ve been given a lot, always look for ways to give back.  

I mentioned that I’ve done “Looking at the Law” nearly 8,700 times ---that’s a lot of law to look at, but, when all is said and done, there’s really only one law, and it is: “You get out of life exactly what you put into it, sooner or later, its only a question of time---and with your skills you can help with the timing, for yourself and for others.   Also, most of those 8,700 cases didn’t have to happen --keep your eyes open for how you can reduce conflict and the anger that comes along with it, its o.k. to help people save face and work things out, instead of always fighting to the death.  And if something isn’t working for you in the law or in life, try something else---remember, an error only become a mistake when it is repeated or, as Einstein defined insanity, “Doing the same thing over and over and over again, while expecting a different result.”   

And lastly, there’s much more to life than the law---don’t just work all the time.  In all probability, you will succeed at the law--- I hope you will also succeed at life, and you will find there are a lot of ways to tack through the waters of life, and many wonderful shores to visit.  You and your family will be much, much happier if you live a full and well-rounded life.   

And in the end, it’s what you do for others that will make all the difference.  As Leo Rosten wrote in Captain Newman, M.D., “Nothing is as important as the effort a man makes to matter, to count, to stand for something, to have it make a difference that he lived at all.”  One final thought----and it is Winston Churchill’s entire speech to the Harrow School in 1941-----“Never, ever, ever give up.”  

Thank you and May God bless you all.   

Last modified: February 27, 2015

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