Mindy Kaling recently spoke at Harvard Law School’s 2014 Class Day ceremony, and the result was humorous, entertaining, and even insightful.
She started with what was probably a staged misunderstanding,
Graduates, parents, faculty, this is really such a remarkable day—obviously for you, but also for me, because after spending a life obsessing over true crime, the impossible happened: I was asked to speak at the Harvard Law commencement and accept an honorary legal degree. Yes, isn’t that the American dream? Me, Mindy Kaling—
[Kaling is interrupted, and informed that she was misinformed.]
OK, um, so apparently there was a little miscommunication. I am no longer Mindy Kaling, esquire-attorney-at-law-comedian-actress. That’s cool, I’m just supposed to stand up here and give funny remarks, and then I’m supposed to sit down… That doesn’t seem fair, but that’s OK, I’ll do that.
She then attempted to justify her selection for the event,
I know what you’re probably thinking: Mindy Kaling, why did they ask her? She’s just a pretty Hollywood starlet. What does that quadruple threat know about the law?
I’ll have you know, I do know a ton about the law…because I sue everybody.
The best part is when she describes what most of these Harvard Law graduates will likely do for a living,
With this diploma in hand, most of you will go on to the noblest of pursuits, like helping a cable company acquire a telecom company.
You will defend BP from birds.
You will spend hours arguing that the well water was contaminated well before the fracking occurred.
One of you will sort out the details of my prenup.
A dozen of you will help me with my acrimonious divorce.
And one of you will fall in love in the process—I’m talkin’ to you, Noah Feldman.
In the highly stratified educational environment of American legal education, Kaling touches on Harvard’s place,
I know that you have a chip on your shoulder. Yale Law is always number one, and you are always number two. Sometimes Stanford comes in there, bumps you down to number three, but listen, let me tell you something—from where I stand, from an outsider’s perspective, here’s the truth: you are ALL nerds.
Except here’s the difference: you are the nerds who are going to make some serious bank, which is why I’m here today—to marry the best-looking amongst you.
She closes with a few more quips about the practice of law,
I’m afraid a couple of you are probably evil—that’s just the odds.
Across the campus, Harvard Business School graduates are receiving diplomas, and you will need to defend them—for insider trading or narcotics, or maybe both if Wolf of Wall Street is to be believed.
You are responsible for the language of justice, for the careful and precise wording in all those boring contracts that I sign while I watch Real Housewives.
You wrote the Terms and Conditions that I scroll through quickly while I download the update for Candy Crush. Terms and Conditions are the only things keeping us from the purge, everybody. I don’t read them—I just hit Accept. iTunes may own my ovaries for all I know.
“Employees must wash their hands before returning to work.” A lawyer wrote that.
“You have the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.” A lawyer wrote that.
“Mindy Kaling may not come within 1,000 feet of Professor Noah Feldman.” A lawyer wrote that…
You represent those who will make laws and affect change… You will affect the rights of people in this country in a fundamental way…
A lot of you will become the quiet heroes of our country.
However, those of you who go on to work for Big Pharma or Philip Morris — you will be the loud antiheroes, and someone is certain to make an AMC series glamorizing you. So congratulations.
But basically, either way, you can’t go wrong.
You can view the entire speech online here.