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This school is already, largely as a result of its recent accomplishments, an important center for the training of men and women who, in the words spoken at the commencements of my own alma mater, will have a part in administering "the wise restraints that make men free."

A distinguished lawyer and diplomat, better known as the father of George Plimpton, once observed that the history of civilization is the history of millions of solved conflicts. This, of course, is another way of saying that the history of civilization is the history of the contributions of thousands of smart lawyers. And yet it is also true, as indicated by the story told by the president of your graduating class, Mr. Biondolillo, that lawyers for some reason are not always held in the degree of public esteem we think we deserve. This, no doubt, is why lawyers are always the first to tell jokes at our own expense. But even in our most self-deprecating moods we are justified in assuming that most people regard us as a necessary evil - and here the operative word is "necessary." In fact, our society is busily creating a bonanza for lawyers.


Elliot Richardson is an Ambassador at Large, Department of State; A.B., Harvard University 1941; L.L.B., Harvard University 1947.

Ambassador Richardson delivered the commencement address in May 1979 at the University of Dayton School of Law. The informality of the address is retained in this text.

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