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Posted on Sun, May 6, 2012 : 5:28 p.m.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder urges U-M law graduates to 'improve the course of our country'

By Kellie Woodhouse

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder urged graduates of the University of Michigan Law School Sunday to pursue careers in public service and “contribute to the strength of this country.”


United States Attorney General Eric Holder listens on to Dean Evan Caminker as he begins the University of Michigan Law School Senior Day graduation ceremony.

Nick Dentamaro | For

“Set aside your concerns about job prospects (and) consider why, of all things, you decided to become lawyers,” Holder said before a crowd of thousands at the Law School’s Senior Day Ceremony at Hill Auditorium Sunday afternoon. “Protect the rights of others…. Starting now that is precisely what you must do.”

Holder told graduates they were "entering an uncertain world, one burdened by economic difficulties” at a time when social “disparities still remain” and the “poorest among us continue to suffer the most." He emphasized the role of lawyers in social change, saying they were integral in abolishing slavery, establishing women’s right to vote and the civil rights movement.

“You must resist the temptation to feel as though you’ve been dealt a bad hand. In fact what you’ve been given is a chance to create change,” Holder said. “Times of difficulty… are the most exciting and consequential times to be a lawyer.”

“It is your time to improve the course of our country and world,” he continued.

Among the 300-plus graduates are a former engineer, shoe designer, wilderness ranger, reporter, and sheep farmer. Many will spread among 100 cities this summer and begin their first fulltime legal career in settings ranging from large corporate litigation and finance firms to boutique general practice offices.

One-quarter of graduates reported accepting careers in public service or in firms and non-profits dealing with public interest issues, including criminal defense attorneys, U.S. Navy J.A.G. officers and advocates for foster children and children of illegal immigrants.

Stephen Gilson, a class-elected Senior Day student speaker, echoed Holder’s imperative and asked graduates not to trade the interests that originally led them to law school for financial security.


Megan Steele waves to the crowd in the balcony of Hill Auditorium before the beginning of the University of Michigan Law School's Senior Day graduation ceremony Sunday afternoon.

Nick Dentamaro | For

“We have to reject the idea that these are in fact the choices we have… financial security and pursuing a passion for change,” he said. “Growing up does not have to be synonymous with giving up.’

Added Law School Dean Evan Caminker: “Learning to argue both sides of an argument makes it difficult to recognize in the end what side you are on (but) thinking like a lawyer does not require you to abandon your passions.”

In 2008 President Barack Obama appointed Holder attorney general — or what Caminker called the “managing partner of the largest law firm in existence” where he “has to make these decisions in the glare of the spotlight and where the stakes could not be higher.”

Holder told graduates that they too face high stakes and encouraged them to use their new degree “to make this world, your world, a better place” so they don’t have to think of “what might have been” later in life.

“I realize that I am asking you to take up and to carry forward some very weighty responsibilities,” he said. “Shape and improve the world that we share: That is your mission and that, class of 2012, is your responsibility.”

Holder is also giving the keynote speech at Harvard University's law school commencement later this month. Previous U-M Senior Day speakers include U.S. Sen. Rob Portman and senior White House adviser and U-M Law School alumnus Valerie Jarrett.

Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.


A2 Rulz/Rulz

Tue, May 8, 2012 : 7:06 p.m.

Im appalled with the reaction to Holder from the people on this site. Sounds like most people would rather have Glen Beck or Rush speak at UM next year....

A2 Rulz/Rulz

Tue, May 8, 2012 : 12:19 p.m.

Great story! Great reporting! Great get! Keep up the good work!

Hal Dotson

Mon, May 7, 2012 : 9:22 p.m.

Kennedy asked 'not what your Country can do for you but what you can do for your Country'. The OBAMA adminisration has done just the oppisite, JFK is rolling over in his grave and would probably vote for Mitt Romney. I know that's what I will do, for sure!


Mon, May 7, 2012 : 2:07 p.m.

Holder can definitely improve the course of our Country.....RESIGN NOW! What a disgrace! The man is obviously a crook. Likely the President also knew of the illegal guns to Mexico deal. Can't believe these people..... Have a hard time believing that Ann Arbor thinks it's ok to have these CROOKS give speeches.... You'd have thought the people in charge were smarter.... Perhaps they get too much Government money to turn the crooks down????? I feel sorry for these law students if this is what they are being taught, that being a crook is ok.....

A2 Rulz/Rulz

Tue, May 8, 2012 : 7:03 p.m.

These CROOKS are some of the highest ranking government officials. Ann Arbor should be thankful that Holder, and people like him, take time out of their day to grace UM with their presence!

The Black Stallion3

Mon, May 7, 2012 : 2:17 p.m.

I find it disgusting to think this is what the UofM law school is teaching their students....this is a disgrace to the UofM.

Michigan Man

Mon, May 7, 2012 : 1:44 p.m.

Both Mr. and Mrs. Obama have "lost" their law licenses in the State of Illinois - he due to alleged bogus application data and she due to alleged extortion of a former client - so I suppose Holder was the next best option for U of M. Competent Obama white house staff with law degrees are in short supply these days. When Mitt becomes the next POTUS later this year we will have a different caliber Harvard trained lawyer with a Harvard MBA as well!


Mon, May 7, 2012 : 6:18 p.m.

Someone fact check this tripe if it's going to be allowed to stay up please: 1/10 because I replied

G. Orwell

Mon, May 7, 2012 : 4:39 p.m.

Mitt is part of the system. The establishment wants both their horses in the race. Mitt = Barack. No difference. Don't let them fool you.

G. Orwell

Mon, May 7, 2012 : 12:33 p.m.

What is his idea of 'improving the course of our country?' Holder and Obama are in the process of destroying our Constitution (continuing on from Bush/Cheney). Particularly our 2nd. Amendment. This guy was caught shipping thousands of guns to Mexican drug cartels to support their fight against non-aligned cartels and to blame the 2nd Amendment. This guy should not be speaking at U of M. He should be in jail.

The Black Stallion3

Mon, May 7, 2012 : 1:44 p.m.

Can you imagine what shape this country would be in if this administration were to go another 4 years? Thank God we have the power to change administrations before it is to late.

The Black Stallion3

Mon, May 7, 2012 : 12:05 p.m.

This just proves how far left the democratic party has also says a lot about A2 and the UofM.


Mon, May 7, 2012 : 11:24 a.m.

obama's poster child for chicago politics...embarrassing even for OZ...

Chase Ingersoll

Mon, May 7, 2012 : 1:24 a.m.

Black Panthers outside the polls in Philadelphia. Fast and Furious. How can you cover this story and not mention this? How can U of M honor this man without coming down to his level. Chase Ingersoll

Michigan Man

Mon, May 7, 2012 : 1:48 p.m.

Chase - Please add Obamacare to your list of utter White House failures under Obama - relative to illegal White House actions. The Justice Department contesting of State immigration laws (Arizona) should be added as well to your rapidly growing list of Obama legal incompetence.

Ulysses Wong

Mon, May 7, 2012 : 1:02 p.m.

In other words subverting the very oath that he MUST defend and support the Constitution. Seems to me that he was a mediocre lawyer before this job and he has clearly failed at the core of his job description so why was he asked to speak again?


Mon, May 7, 2012 : 11:40 a.m.

Tesla, if you really do not know. This is about U.S. Attorney General running guns to the Mexican drug cartel to kill US and Mexican law enforcement and the lack of procecution of voter intimidation by the 'political action' group the Black Panthers.


Mon, May 7, 2012 : 2:03 a.m.

What do big cats in an urban environment and a movie about stolen cars have to do with anything?

Real Life

Mon, May 7, 2012 : 1:09 a.m.

What an embarrassment for the U of M to invite this discredited Leftist hack. And they wonder why I've stopped contributing when they call.


Mon, May 7, 2012 : 1:01 a.m.

How about pursuing careers in the private sector that can generate tax revenue. Mr. Holder is an example of whats wrong with the Obama administration. There view is that government should dominate every aspect of our society, with the private sector and the individual secondary. Do not forget it was Debbie Stabinow who voted to confirm his appointment to AG.


Mon, May 7, 2012 : 6:13 p.m.

Mr. Holder is an example of whats wrong with the UM. Their view is that their organization should dominate every aspect of our society, with the private sector and the individual secondary. fix'd


Mon, May 7, 2012 : 2:09 p.m.

YAH! Stabenow is deaf to what is righteous, run her out with Holder and the President! PLEASE!!!!

Michigan Reader

Mon, May 7, 2012 : 12:55 a.m.

Was Ted Bundy equal to the Pope of the Catholic Church? Are the homeless on any street in America equal to Bill Gates? Steve Jobs? The self-evident truth is that all men aren't created equal.


Mon, May 7, 2012 : 12:03 p.m.

I don't think the Pope lives in this country. But sir, ALL AMERICANS CREATED EQUAL is the starting point. It's up to each of those individual Americans to determine what they do with that freedom. In this country, there is nothing stopping that homeless man from creating the next google, or Gates/Jobs from blowing their empire. (Well, maybe Jobs won't blow his empire anymore, it'd be kind of hard).

Michigan Reader

Mon, May 7, 2012 : 12:44 a.m.

One of the "strengths of the country" is the Constitution, the meaning of which the Obama administration stretches way beyond its original intent, not to mention Congress, many members of whom are lawyers, who draft legislation way beyond the bounds of the Bill of Rights. And the Interstate Commerce Clause. The current administration and Congress didn't get this country into this mess, but they're pushing it further toward communism by taking advantage of the wide disparity between the richest and the growing poorest citizens of the U.S. That disparity came about through freedom of this country's citizens. There's equal opportunity for all citizens, but NOT equal outcomes. This is because some people have more to offer than others, i.e., not all men are created equal. All RACES are created equal, but not all individuals within any particular race.

The Black Stallion3

Mon, May 7, 2012 : 10:05 p.m.

Stop thinking.....listen to the your eyes.

Michigan Reader

Mon, May 7, 2012 : 9:09 p.m.

@Black Stallion3--I think Obama will be re-elected.

The Black Stallion3

Mon, May 7, 2012 : 6:13 p.m.

I am glad we will not have to listen to Obama after January, I do not care for either party but I do know Obama must go for the good of this country.


Mon, May 7, 2012 : 6:08 p.m.

*Reagan. Inb4 some misguided grammar nazi.


Mon, May 7, 2012 : 6:06 p.m.

Ronald Regan's trickle up economy set the stage for the income & wealth disparity. Conservatives speak in absolutes because they simply can't comprehend a world where fair and moral compromise can be achieved. It's much easier to say Obama is pushing communism than to face the reality that the issues are complicated, serious and deserve our full attention. 1/10 for effort though

The Black Stallion3

Mon, May 7, 2012 : 12:10 p.m.

No really Tesla.............keep quessing


Mon, May 7, 2012 : 1:59 a.m.

Translation: Thanks for coming to Ann Arbor and speaking to the grads AG Holder!


Sun, May 6, 2012 : 11:12 p.m.

I liked Eric Holder for a long time, but his defense of killing Americans without any due process and drone attacks on civilians is extraordinarily cynical.

Hot Sam

Sun, May 6, 2012 : 10:46 p.m.

His departure would improve the course of the country...

shadow wilson

Sun, May 6, 2012 : 10:45 p.m.

Jimmy McNulty

Mon, May 7, 2012 : 11:13 a.m.

Great article!


Sun, May 6, 2012 : 10:39 p.m.

JFK wanted to improve the course of the country,although the war machine had other ideas.

The Black Stallion3

Mon, May 7, 2012 : 6:15 p.m.

Please don't put all your faith into a book from someone such as Oliver Stone.....He makes movies to sell and movies seldom tell the truth, that is why the left supports people like Oliver.


Mon, May 7, 2012 : 6:02 p.m.

ya rly... watch Oliver Stone's JFK or better yet read the book It's really simple to find out why someone is behind an action seek those that would profit from it. Big business, who was backing LBJ, didn't want Vietnam to end because they were making alot of money. With Kennedy out of the way they could continue their war efforts like they wanted LBJ to in the first place. You think that's air you're breathing?

The Black Stallion3

Mon, May 7, 2012 : 2:21 p.m.



Sun, May 6, 2012 : 10:17 p.m.

How can this guy stand up in front of a crowd after he has been exposed? Sheesh what a hypocrite.


Sun, May 6, 2012 : 9:45 p.m.

....and remember, when testifying in front of congress, to simply not answer the questions so you don't perjure yourself. Much easier than being ethical and telling the truth.

The Black Stallion3

Mon, May 7, 2012 : 12:24 p.m.

This whole administration is lacking in ethics and truthfulness........that is just the way they swing.