"Leave time for editing" was the simple advice offered to Samford University's Cumberland School of Law graduates May 18.
Samford University President Andrew Westmoreland, presiding at his first law school commencement since becoming president last year, was featured speaker and used the analogy in life of settling for a first draft versus edited drafts to encourage the 158 graduates to always strive for the best.
Westmoreland told graduates of a novel written by Ernest Hemingway and edited and published posthumously by his son, Patrick. "Apparently Hemingway never finished the book, and there remains some doubt about whether this is a first draft, second draft or a fifteenth draft."
Westmoreland said he was "captivated' by the inconsistencies of the posthumous publication of a potentially unedited and uncompleted novel.
"What if the first drafts of our work were all we had to represent us?" Westmoreland asked. "A great sadness of our age is that many of us seem to have been robbed of or have simply given away or have squandered the time and the energy required for the edit."
Westmoreland noted that "Great writing, great ideas, great lives" are years and decades in the making. "It takes the love of family. It takes years of study and practice. It takes decades of interaction with colleagues. It takes a lifetime of reflection. It takes an appreciation for love and learning that grow with each day of life. In short, it takes a lot of editing."
Westmoreland's final exhortation to the graduates and more than 2,000 faculty, family and friends gathered in Samford's Wright Center Concert Hall, was "We all need more than one draft to get it right."
During the ceremony, Law School Dean John L. Carroll announced the new Daniel Austin Brewer Professionalism Award. The award, endowed by former Alabama Gov. Albert Brewer in honor of his father, is to be given to a third year law student "who best exemplifies the high stands of ethics and professionalism expected of members of the legal profession."
The inaugural Brewer Award recipient was Bains Fleming of Wellington, Fla., president of the class of 2007.