Jurist Series Brings Alumni to Campus
Last month, two BSFS Alumni—Major League Soccer (MLS) President Mark Abbott ('86) and U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement ('88)—delivered the first of the Michael Jurist Distinguished Alumni Lectures for this academic year.
The liberal arts education and the rigor of [BSFS] studies were a tremendous preparation.
"The liberal arts education and the rigor of [BSFS] studies were a tremendous preparation," noted Abbott, who was originally set out on a career as a lawyer, graduating in 1989 from Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley, where he was the Managing Editor of the California Law Review. He was a soccer player as a child, but "got involved in MLS by accident," stumbling upon an opportunity to write the business plan for the league in 1993 while on leave from Los Angeles law firm Latham & Watkins. Abbott became the first official employee of the league in 1993, which was approved by FIFA in the wake of the overwhelming success of the U.S. World Cup., To the students in attendance, Abbott emphasized that "you can't map out your career path, you can only strive to be good at the job you've chosen--that's what will get you noticed by employers and allow you to pursue your true interests, whatever they may be."
U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement’s more traditional career path led him to Cambridge University for a Master's in economics, Harvard Law School, and eventually a clerkship for Supreme Court Associate Justice (and fellow SFS alumnus) Antonin Scalia. Clement held a series of additional private and public sector positions before serving as Principal Deputy Solicitor General and Acting Solicitor General in the Department of Justice. He was nominated by President Bush and confirmed by the Senate as Solicitor General in the summer of 2005. During his talk, Clement repeatedly emphasized the role that the unknown has played in his life. Like Abbott, Clement advised the students in attendance to have flexible goals and be willing to take advantage of seemingly random opportunities as they appear. "I always assumed that I would be involved in domestic issues almost exclusively," Clement reflected. "However, my SFS education and my interests as an undergraduate, which I had maintained as an avocation, became my vocation after 9/11.”
The Michael Jurist Distinguished Alumni Lecture Series is named for BSFS alum Michael Jurist ('07). Michael was beloved in the Georgetown community and known to many for the leadership role he played on campus in the Georgetown University Lecture Fund. His sudden death in the summer of 2007 shocked the many people touched by his life at Georgetown and across the world. Events in this series are limited to a small number of students in order to ensure opportunities for personal interaction between students and alumni. The first Jurist roundtable was delivered April 2nd, 2008 by then-U.S. Undersecretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs Paula Dobriansky (BSFS' 77).