On Monday evening, the College of Law hosted U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, Illinois’ senior senator and the convener of the state’s bipartisan congressional delegation, for the third lecture in the New Lincoln Lectures series. As part of the lecture series, the College of Law again hosted the Lincoln Legacy Essay Competition, and the winning essay was submitted by second year law student Benjamin Paulsen (’18). In addition to winning the essay competition, Ben also had the opportunity to meet Senator Durbin prior to the lecture. (NOTE: Neither Senator Durbin nor the U.S. Senate were connected with the competition/award in any way.)
Ben has been active in several extracurricular activities while in law school. He is a member of Phi Alpha Delta, and participated on the 1L mock trial team. He is also active in OUTLAW, the LGBT student association, and the law school softball league. Upon graduation in the spring of 2018, Ben hopes to clerk for a federal judge before heading to Chicago to work at a law firm.
For the essay competition, students were asked to consider the following:
In his second inaugural address on March 4, 1865, Lincoln said “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.” Lincoln called upon all Americans, whether from the North or from the South, to heal the nation by setting aside their difference and showing compassion to those with whom they were once in conflict.
How does this shape your view of the law and your role as a lawyer? How has the idea of law as a tool for unity and peace influenced your decision to become a lawyer, your study of law, and your future legal career? With the current political, cultural, and social struggles going on now in our country, how do you think law and lawyers can contribute to achieving the unity and peace for which Lincoln strived? What impact do you feel you could personally have on “achieving peace among ourselves and with all nations,” and how do you think your law degree might assist you in these efforts?
Read Benjamin Paulsen’s winning essay, “The Second Inaugural Address: Lincoln’s Legacy on the next Generation of Lawyers.”
The New Lincoln Lectures: What Abraham Lincoln Means to the 21st Century – is a series of several lectures to be held in 2016 and 2017 in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago, and/or Springfield. The series was founded in commemoration of the sesquicentennial anniversary of President Lincoln’s death and then, two years later, of the founding of the University of Illinois. The lectures will feature luminaries in various fields related to law, government, and history, who will reflect on Lincoln’s legacy and its continuing relevance – both in their individual lives and the life of the nation – 150 years after his passing.