Justice Hardesty Encourages McGeorge School of Law Graduates to Pursue Excellence with Passion

5/22/2018 7:43:48 AM

Supreme Court of Nevada Justice James W. Hardesty presented the 2018 commencement address to the graduates of the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law on May 18. A 1975 alumnus of the law school, Justice Hardesty addressed more than 1,200 people in attendance.

Justice James W. Hardesty addresses 2018 graduates at McGeorge School of Law Justice James W. Hardesty addresses 2018 graduates at McGeorge School of Law

Dean Michael Hunter Schwartz introduced Justice Hardesty to those gathered in the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium. A total of 127 new attorneys received juris doctor degrees and 60 graduates earned a doctoral or master’s degree.

Justice Hardesty noted that McGeorge students have consistently benefitted from the dedication, passion, inspiration, and intellect of their professors. “This incredible group of educators have left an indelible mark on the lives of so many. Imagine, in my day, taking constitutional law from (now U.S. Supreme Court Justice) Anthony Kennedy. He taught the course without once referring to a book, note, or piece of paper. After the third class, I was awestruck and so inspired. By the fifth class, I was praying for a C. And throughout the year I kept thinking, this guy should be on the U.S. Supreme Court.” The remark prompted laughter from the audience. To this day, both Justices remain close friends.

Justice Hardesty was elected to the Nevada Supreme Court in November 2004 and served as Chief Justice in 2009 and 2015. He was re-elected to the court without opposition in 2010 and 2016. He graduated from University of Nevada, Reno, in 1970 and University of the Pacific’s McGeorge School of Law in 1975. After graduating from McGeorge, Justice Hardesty worked in private practice from 1975 to 1998 in Reno/Sparks and was elected to the Second Judicial District Court in 1998.

Justice Hardesty asked the graduates, “What are you going to do with that diploma and law license you’re about to get?” Later in the speech, he challenged each student to pursue excellence with passion. “Bring passion to the bar exam, bring passion and dedication to the legal profession--for you, as young lawyers, are the heartbeat of the profession. You inspire the old to reignite that passion in ourselves.” While urging the class to do great things with their degree, he reminded them that “there is no margin for error when it comes to your reputation. Personal integrity is at the heart of every career. I have found that if one’s reputation for integrity is alive, so is their career.”

Justice Hardesty spoke with pride about the diversity of the graduating class and encouraged each graduate to pursue pro bono cases, observing that “there is no greater satisfaction in the practice of law than the smile and ‘thank you’ you will get from a pro bono client.”