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“America’s Mayor” tells ’10 grads to strive for leadership roles

“America’s Mayor” Rudy Giuliani stressed to members of the Law Center Class of 2010 the importance and responsibilities of the role they had just taken on and above all advised them to be leaders in their chosen field.

“I’m here to urge you to be leaders because we need leaders right now,” he said, adding that being graduates from a premier Texas law school means they have the right stuff. “There is one thing New Yorkers and Texans have in common,” said the New York native and former mayor of New York City, “arrogance, and that’s a good thing!” Giuliani, now a partner in the firm of Bracewell & Giuliani, said the Founding Fathers based the country on “lofty ideals” that were unattainable at the time but set a high bar for generations to come. “We are truly a unique country based on a common set of ideas, and laws are the ideas that unite us because they are the enforceable ideas,” he said. “And boy are we a nation of laws.” Giuliani quoted Sir Thomas More: “This country is planted thick with laws,” adding his own paraphrase that if we don’t hug those laws, we will lose their protection. “We are a country that is overburdened with laws, sometimes good, sometimes bad. You’re the profession that makes it all work. Our laws are too long and too complicated and we need you to interpret them.”

After regaling the 350 graduates and a Hofheinz Pavilion crowd of family and friends with jokes and humorous anecdotes from his storied career, Giuliani outlined six personal and professional tips for becoming a leader:

  • Beliefs and Goals:  Set your standards and stick to them. If you go with the polls or others’ opinions, “the others are the leaders and you are the follower.” Develop a clear vision. “A leader points the way to the future.”
  • Optimism:  “An optimist doesn’t ignore problems, he absorbs them and figures out how to solve them.”  Would you follow a pessimist who only sees the problems and downside of an issue, he asked? “I want you to be an optimist even if you’re not,” he joked, “because optimists have more friends.”
  • Take risks:  Don’t be afraid to express your ideas or pursue your goals.
  • Train:  “Relentless preparation” is a key to success in law. Nothing should happen in the courtroom that you haven’t already anticipated. He said as mayor of New York City he thought he was prepared for any eventuality.  Then came 9/11.  But preparation in dealing with other crises helped him make decisions even during the nightmare that was beyond anything he had ever imagined.
  • Teamwork:  Recognize your weaknesses and find someone who can help you. A successful team is a balancing of strengths and weaknesses. “If you don’t think you have any weaknesses, ask your wife or husband.”
  • Caring:  Genuinely care about the people you represent as well as colleagues. “When things go wrong, be there.”

Earlier, Dean Raymond T. Nimmer, University of Houston President and Chancellor Renu Khator, Regent Jarvis B. Hollingsworth and Law Alumni Association President Warren W. Harris congratulated the graduates.
Nimmer praised the graduates as well as the faculty and staff which combined have made the Law Center a Tier One law school, ranking among the best in the nation in numerous categories.

“I am proud of your degree and I am sure you are proud of it too,” Khator told the graduates. “I would give you some advice, but you have done well enough without it.”

Hollingsworth reminded the class that 80 percent of Law Center graduates remain in the Houston area “and drive our community. We populate this city.”

Harris welcomed graduates to the Alumni Association and joked that the best part about the organization is that it has no dues, and no exams. He urged the group of new lawyers to “stand up and take charge” and be proud of their new profession. He told them about a discussion he recently had with a group of eight- and nine-year-olds. “What do lawyers do?” he asked them, and their overwhelming response was, “Lawyers help people.”

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