May 18, 2017 – Meredith Attwell Baker encouraged 311 University of Houston Law Center graduates to keep an open mind about their practice areas at the Law Center Convocation on Saturday night at NRG Arena. The graduating class included 237 J.D. candidates and 74 graduates of the Law Center's LL.M. program.
Baker, a 1994 alumna of the Law Center, is the president and CEO of CTIA, a trade association and advocacy group for the wireless communication industry.
"Our profession is designed to be adversarial," she said. "But that does not make us adversaries. If you raise your voice, act out in frustration or anger, you aren't helping your cause and are only impacting your blood pressure. Plus it rarely, if ever, works. You should always strive to see the other side. Make each other human and find compromise."
Prior to joining CTIA, Baker served as senior vice president of government affairs at Comcast NBCUniversal where she developed policy positions on legislative and regulatory issues and represented those positions before Congress, the administration and government agencies. She previously spent two years as an FCC commissioner after being appointed by President Barack Obama in 2009.
From 2004-2007, Baker worked in the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration under President George W. Bush.
The 1994 Law Center alumna used her own career trajectory as an illustration of how a law degree can lead to many paths.
"I'm an example of what people mean when they say you can do anything with a law degree," she said. "Upon reflection, at every stop along the way in my career, I was a lawyer, even if not a practicing one, and that's important. Some of you will have traditional legal careers and others will chart more non-traditional careers, like me, or have a mix.
"There is no right path. But as I said, no matter what job you have, whether it is your first or the one you'll have 20 years from now, you will be a lawyer every day of your life starting today."
Dean Leonard M. Baynes told graduates that the Law Center eagerly anticipates their success, and emphasized the long-term value of a law degree.
"Graduates, you have been taught by some of the best law professors in the country who have fundamentally transformed each one of you by teaching you how to think like lawyers," Baynes said. "You have learned to write precisely, to analyze rigorously, to advocate persuasively and to conform to the highest professional standards.
"You can now take these tools and transform the world by representing individual clients to secure justice and by providing the legal architecture of global, national social, political and economic movements."
Jacob M. Karam served as the class speaker and applauded his fellow graduates for overcoming adversity.
"Life is not about what happens to us," he said. "Life is about how we react to what happens to us. How will we react when we are waitlisted in life? Be persistent. Become the best version of yourselves.
"This class is so unique and diverse, but we're all pursuing the same degree. As I was writing this speech I thought, 'How in the world am I going to say something that can adequately represent all of us?' But I realized that we all have one thing in common -we are all a better version of ourselves than we were three years ago. "
Richard F. Whitely '99, president of the UH Law Alumni Association, welcomed graduates to the Law Center's network of alumni and urged them to be true to their legal education, be proud of their Law Center background, and to practice law with passion.