2013 LL.M. Class Commencement Address
Jorge Sepulveda delivers the LL.M. Address
Jorge Sepulveda of Chile, was chosen by the LL.M. Class of 2013, composed of 47 students representing 18 countries, to deliver the LL.M. Graduation Address at the May 18, 2013, Commencement Ceremonies. Following is the text of his address.
Dean Wippman, professors, graduates, parents and distinguished guests—the races, whatever its type, are made to be completed. LL.M. classmates, we are here on this occasion because we finished our Law School race. Congratulations to you all!
I say "our race" because no one of us ran it alone. Along this academic year, we strongly supported each other and, of course, received the help of many other people—family, friends, teachers, J.D.s, and the staff at the UMN. Special thanks to Khary Hornsby, Dorothy Schlesselman, Jessica Ringgenberg and Maren Stoddard from the International and Graduate Programs office, who were always there to help us even before coming here, answering the strangest questions that you could imagine.
Let me also thank our families that supported us through this period from a distance. Without them, probably we would not be here, celebrating this achievement. To my parents, Jaime and Neni, special thanks for being always
I would also like to make part of this speech the Humphrey Fellows and exchange students who, although were not officially part of the LL.M. class, shared fantastic moments with us. To all of them, wherever you are, it was an honor to meet you all.
Well, before I continue my speech, I hope my Legal Writing professor
doesn't get mad if I don't follow the IRAC format. There are so many special things
to say today that's hard to follow the legal rules!
Coming here was a really particular experience since we studied no more and no less that in the United States of America! A country where McDonald's meals are bigger, people openly make fun of the president, basketball and football are the most popular sports and not soccer, 50 completely diverse "mini-countries" are inside the same country, gay marriage is legal, social kissing is not the rule, and more.
But that was not all. At the same time, we spent almost a year in one of the Northern cities of the U.S.—Minneapolis, Minnesota, a place that requires special characteristics to subsist. I still remember the initial introduction at the Law School when after learning all that was necessary to survive classes and the Socratic method, we were told that during winter we would just see the sun for
seven hours; that it would snow not one, two or three times but at least ten;
and, that we would be exposed to temperatures under 10 degrees Celsius (14
Fahrenheit). The last tip was not exactly true: I have a photograph displaying a
temperature of -40 degree Celsius.
Anyway, against all the predictions, Minneapolis was not the cold city that
we were expecting, although the promise based on the last year experience that
the snow would finish earlier was not true! We had snow until a few weeks ago!
It was the opposite, the warmest place that we have ever visited. Why? Due to
the exceptional group of people composing the LL.M. class—judges, criminal lawyers, academics, in house counsels, litigators and future lawyers—all of them with backgrounds and experiences that would impress anyone in this stadium. We came from almost 20 countries and 4 different continents bringing completely diverse views about politics, religion, society, economy and life in general. Hearing a conversation between a Chinese and a French, a Dutch and an Argentinian, a Tunisian and an Ecuadorian, or a Japanese and a Norwegian was a delight. Paradoxically, in our differences, we found unity. And we became friends and close partners. We will never forget the time that we spent on the benches of the law school, having lunch, watching the Gophers, tasting the Minnesotans' beer, dancing or representing our international soccer team, the unforgettable "Vagabundos." Nor, the fact that two new Minnesotans were born in the middle of books and study: Isabella and Baltazar. Congratulations to my friend Ben and, sorry about that, to me!
Of course studying for those impossible finals of Evidence, Contracts or M&A were part of this amazing year. That reminds me of a "small" detail—we studied law at one of the best law schools in the U.S. Reading thousands of pages, taking eight-hour exams, writing papers and the worst and most feared part—dealing with the "cold-call" in class. Because it's one thing to be called on to answer a question, but another to be called on in different language, about foreign law rules, in a room with more than 60 people looking at you. To be honest, finally it became natural. I think I represent the whole LL.M. class when I say that the professors at the Law School were excellent academics not only inside but also outside the classroom. To all of you distinguished professors, thanks for your lessons, knowledge and disposition toward us at all time.
During those classes we learned and reviewed unlimited tests for different
purposes—from how to determine minimum contacts to establish personal
jurisdiction, to decide when a statement is hearsay, passing through many
Scalia's tests bringing us to the old past. However, for all of us, the most
significant test, a new race, is still waiting for us, in the future—to spread all the knowledge, skills and experience we acquired here, in our respective countries.
In doing so, we should never forget that as lawyers we have a huge personal
and social responsibility. Making money, achieving personal glory or earning
awards should not be our goal. We need to build a new category of human
being, "keeping our lights on illuminates everyone," as this University encourages
us to do every day.
Ladies and gentleman, we are proud of our new alma mater, and you should be proud of the members of this LL.M. class. Don't be surprised if within the next years some of our names become widely known for contributing to the justice or the academic field. In the meantime, know that we will bring our light across the world, just as we learned to do it at the University of Minnesota Law School.
Muchas gracias. Enjoy the rest of the ceremony.