Marilyn Booker Urges William & Mary Law Graduates to Pursue the Possibilities of Positive Change

  • Inspiring Words
    Inspiring Words  Marilyn Booker, Managing Director and Head of Morgan Stanley’s Urban Markets Group, urged W&M graduates to find ways to use the practice of law to help make communities and the nation stronger, better, and more just.  Photo by Odd Moxie
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Providing words of inspiration to William & Mary Law School’s Class of 2018 as they prepared to receive their diplomas on May 13, Marilyn Booker, Managing Director and Head of Morgan Stanley’s Urban Markets Group, looked back to her own work after graduation.

She remembered being 23 years old, serving as a public defender on the south side of Chicago, representing dispossessed families, the indigent and poor in criminal cases.

She remembered sitting in jail cells, doing her best to keep young boys of color out of the criminal justice system and away from a vicious cycle of crime and poverty.

And she remembered what she learned from it all.

“These experiences early in law provided a grounding, a tutorial for the rest of my days,” Booker said. “Using the majesty of the law to correct the faults of the law.”

Noting that unlike other law schools, William & Mary’s graduating class (as opposed to administrators) chooses its own commencement speaker, Dean Davison M. Douglas praised the Class of 2018 for inviting Ms. Booker, whose drive and talents allowed her to go in different directions during her career.

“Marilyn is a great example that there are many things you can do in life,” Douglas said. “Your first job may not be your last job, and it’s possible to change course if you will.”

A Morgan Stanley veteran of more than 24 years, Booker hails from Chicago and received her B.A. magna cum laude from Spelman College and her J.D. from the Illinois Institute of Technology-Chicago Kent College of Law. She is a former trustee of the Morgan Stanley Foundation, a member of The Morgan Stanley Benefit Plan Administrative Committee and a former member of the Morgan Stanley Residential Franchise Risk Committee.

During her remarks, Booker congratulated graduates for their many achievements, but also charged them with disturbing what Dr. Martin Luther King called “the unjust peace.”

“As lawyers, you must continue to disturb the unjust peace, as we are living in a world filled with trouble, doubt and uncertainty,” Booker said. “You have a duty, a responsibility, to help keep America’s mind ‘stayed’ on freedom.”

Booker added that problems are solvable by people with positive attitudes who are committed to constructive change. She said that the moment for leadership is here for the Class of 2018, and that they must accept the call and the challenge.

“Wherever you go and whatever you do, I urge you to find ways to use the practice of law to reach out and help somebody, to reach down and pull somebody up,” Booker said. “Use it as an instrument to help make our communities and our nation stronger, better, more just.”


During the Diploma Ceremony, a number of special awards were presented:

Beth Hopkins J.D. ’77 received the Citizen-Lawyer Award. The award, the Law School Association's highest recognition, is given annually to a graduate or friend of the Law School who has made “a lifetime commitment to citizenship and leadership.”

The Law School Association honored M. Cabell Clay J.D. ’08 with the Taylor Reveley Award. The award recognizes outstanding commitment to public service by an alumnus or alumna of the Law School who has graduated within the previous 10 years.

Liz Jackson, former Associate Dean for Administration, received a posthumous John Marshall Award, conferred on a member of the Law School faculty or staff who has demonstrated character, leadership, and a spirit of selfless service to the Law School community. Dean Jackson passed away in February.

The Class of 2018 honored Professor Tara Leigh Grove with the Walter L. Williams, Jr., Teaching Award, given by each graduating class to a member of the faculty in recognition of outstanding teaching.

The McGlothlin Faculty Teaching Award was conferred upon Professor Jeff Bellin. James W. McGlothlin ’62, J.D. ’64, LL.D. ’00 and Frances Gibson McGlothlin ’66 established the award in 2016 with a generous endowment to the Law School and the Mason School of Business to recognize innovative, excellent educators who have demonstrated a sustained commitment to teaching.

The Class of 2020 presented Eric Kades with the inaugural 1L Professor of the Year Award in recognition of his outstanding work with first-year students both inside and outside of the classroom.

Laura Bladow J.D. ’18 received the Lawrence W. I’Anson Award, the highest award given to a student by the Law School’s faculty. The award goes to a member of the graduating class who shows strong evidence of great professional promise through scholarship, character and leadership.

The Law School Association honored Michaela Lieberman J.D. 18 with the Thurgood Marshall Award for distinguished pro bono work. The award is given to a member of the graduating class who exhibits the ideals of distinguished public service exemplified by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall (1908-1993).

Kevin McCandlish J.D. ’18 received the George Wythe Award, conferred by the Law School upon a graduating student for selfless service. The award is named in honor of George Wythe (1726-1806), William & Mary’s—and the nation’s—first professor of law.

About William & Mary Law School

Thomas Jefferson founded William & Mary Law School in 1779 to train leaders for the new nation. Now in its third century, America's oldest law school continues its historic mission of educating citizen lawyers who are prepared both to lead and to serve.