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University of Iowa News Release

May 19, 2003

Vilsack Urges UI Law Graduates To Remember Humanity Of The Law

Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack told the graduates of the University of Iowa College of Law's Class of 2003 to always be proud that they're lawyers and to always remember that their work is about more than the law.

"At the core of what you do is service, and to search for and discover the greatness of human nature," said Vilsack, who practiced law before entering politics in Mt. Pleasant and is a past president of the Iowa Trial Lawyers Association. "Too often we tend to forget about the human aspect of our practice. We talk about cases and motions and billable hours, but we often forget that behind them are people with hopes and dreams."

The College of Law graduated 213 students in ceremonies at Hancher Auditorium on May 17. Among the graduates was Jess Vilsack, son of the governor and his wife, Christie. The governor stood and embraced his son on the Hancher stage after he had received his diploma from College of Law Dean N. William Hines and UI President David Skorton.

Vilsack wore a Pittsburgh Pirates cap throughout his commencement address, a joke going back to his own law school commencement when fellow graduates dared him to replace his mortar board with the cap of his hometown baseball team that he rooted for passionately. Since then, he said he wears only a Pirates cap when he attends law school graduations.

Vilsack shared with the graduates stories of three of his own clients who made a mark in his life when he practiced law: a farmer struggling to save his family farm during the 1980s farm crisis; the grandmother who saved a medical record that showed a doctor was lying under oath and had altered medical records because his own negligence had led to the woman's grandson losing his sight in one eye; and a six-year old boy who had severe brain damage because his mother was a drug addict, and who was being raised by his aunt.

He told the graduates that they will find many clients like these during their professional lives, who offer lessons about life and about being human.

"The greatest part about being a lawyer is that you can relate to people and learn so much about human nature," he said. "Whether you're a corporate lawyer helping an entrepreneur start a business or a family lawyer trying to help a family, you can make a difference."

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Service, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Tom Snee, 319-384-0010,