2011 Commencement Speech: Carter Maudsley

Dear Law School;

I’m leaving you.  It’s not you, it’s me.  Actually, it is you.  The last three years have been pretty rough on both of us.  You have consistently required the utmost attention from me, and I have consistently disappointed you.  However, as much as it pains me to admit, I don’t regret spending this time with you.  I have learned so much about myself while you repeatedly tested my patience, my intellect, and my will to live.

Our relationship started off well enough. One hundred twenty-five other suitors and I started this relationship with optimism, open eyes, and open hearts. We all thought we knew what it would take to win your respect. You were loving, gentle, and showered us with compliments. After intro week, however, you changed. You tricked us into thinking that Whose Monet was insightful legal writing, that we would all become the best of friends while trying to cut each other’s throats, and that somehow, if we all gave it our best, we all could be number one in the class.  Really? You can’t have 125 number ones, nor can you actually think that we were all smart enough to be number one. I know lawyers are bad at math, but 125 number ones? Come on, you’re smarter than that.

It only got better from there. After that cute little snowstorm you arranged for the last day of first semester finals, I had to wait, and wait, and wait to see if I earned your love. I should have viewed that snowstorm as a sign of things to come. Weeks later and with the same optimism I had when I walked into your doors, I pressed a few keys and the status of our one-semester relationship was displayed. You required the utmost attention from me and I disappointed you.  The only thing you thought I was good at was Legal Research. You then proceeded to tell me that Legal Research wasn’t what you were looking for in a GPA.  But we both viewed this as an opportunity to grow. I promised to try harder; you promised to stay the same.

Over the next two years, I would consistently try harder, and you would consistently stay the same. I wanted your love, your respect, and a job. But there was something more. I grew to enjoy our relationship. I liked the abuse. I liked bettering myself and watching myself improve in your eyes. I liked that I learned to look at a problem six different ways, that I could realize that four of those ways would never work, and that I could argue either of the remaining two ways to achieve the necessary result. You taught me how to think differently. You taught me how to argue (which looking back, starting a relationship under the premise that you are going to teach someone how to argue doesn’t make much sense either).

But there is one thing that I learned from you that I will always be grateful for. Simply put, you taught me dedication. You helped me, and the rest of your suitors, understand that we each have the drive, the motivation, and the diligence to finish anything we start. Even when it is an uphill battle. Even when the experience is mentally and physically draining. Even when there are a thousand other things we would rather be doing. Even when, at the time, the exercise appears fruitless. Even when after we finish the task, our efforts seem for not.  On that note, I have enclosed a similar, but profanity-laced, letter for you to give to The Job Market. I’m not on the best of terms with her either, but I view The Job Market as our next challenge, a difficult and elusive challenge. And I’m positive that if we approach The Job Market using the same dedication, drive, and mindset that we approached you with, dear Law School, we can conquer her too.

I will miss you Law School. I will miss the competition for your love. I will miss the feeling of accomplishment when you compliment me with anything more than a B+. Speaking of which, I never quite understood how an A is an A, but a B+ to you is like a C to the rest of the world.  Between your 125 number ones and your screwy grading system, maybe leaving you isn’t such a bad idea.

As for me, I look forward to returning to the real world and seeing my beautiful wife, adorable son, and the rest of my family and friends much more. They were jealous of you at times, but they also know that I love them more. I love them more because they supported me while I was dealing with you. I had to apologize to them more than once because of what you turned me into.  You should tell my wife and son that you are sorry for the time you took away from them. You should tell the loved ones of all of your suitors that you are sorry for the temporary insanity you created.  You weren’t very nice to them.

Law School, thank you for the last few years. However, I must leave.


Carter Maudsley