Five Questions With Diploma Ceremony Speaker and Alumna Grace Speights

Grace Speights
May 01, 2017

Dean Blake D. Morant announced that Grace E. Speights, the global leader of Morgan Lewis' Labor and Employment Law Practice and a graduate of GW Law's Class of 1982, will deliver the keynote address at the Law School Diploma Ceremony on Sunday, May 21, 2017. In advance of her address, Ms. Speights answers a few questions about her career and upcoming speech.

How did your time at GW Law influence your career now?

I think one of the most valuable aspects of the education was the practical and clinical side. Being able to participate in legal clinics and getting real life experience with clients prior to graduating prepared me early on. It was an education that you just can't get from the books.

Describe a memorable moment, professor, or course from your time in law school.

Meeting my classmate Donna Hill Staton, who has been my best friend and confidante since the day that we met at GW Law. Donna and I met on our first day of class, and we became roommates during our time at GW Law shortly thereafter. We have remained very close friends since we graduated, which was 35 years ago.

If you were not working as a partner at Morgan Lewis, what would you be doing?

I would be a lawyer at a civil rights or other public interest organization. That was my intent and dream when I was at GW Law. Not in my wildest dreams did I think that 35 years after law school, I would still be working at Morgan Lewis or any large firm. I have always been very interested in providing legal services to those who are most in need. Luckily, I have been able to do that at Morgan Lewis by doing pro bono work during my career there.

What advice would you give to students before University Commencement?

They should make sure that they enjoy the day. They and their families have worked hard and made tremendous sacrifices to get to graduation day. They need to sit back and take it all in. This is a major accomplishment!

What are you most looking forward to when you think about delivering the Commencement address?

Sharing my story with the graduates and to inspire them to use their law degrees to serve those who are not as fortunate as they have been. Lawyers can do this regardless of where they end up practicing law, regardless of the kind of practice they will be involved in, and regardless of the substantive area they may end up specializing in. I hope to inspire them to remember to give back to the community and to GW Law throughout their careers.

For more on 2017 Commencement