New York, NY (April 21, 2017) – Former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara and Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Laura Ricciardi ’96 will give keynote speeches at the New York Law School (NYLS) 2017 Commencement ceremony before an audience of approximately 2,200 people, including 251 candidates for graduation.
Commencement will take place on Thursday, May 25, 2017 at David Geffen Hall in Lincoln Center. Bharara, one of the nation’s most distinguished and influential prosecutors, and Ricciardi, a 1996 graduate of NYLS and the co-creator of the acclaimed Netflix series “Making a Murderer,” will each receive an honorary degree at the ceremony.
“Our graduates are entering the profession during a time of great legal and political turbulence and have the grit and determination to maximize the impact of their legal degrees,” said Dean and President Anthony W. Crowell. “I can think of no one better than Preet Bharara and Laura Ricciardi to give them perspectives on their future roles as lawyers, guardians of the public good, and advocates for those whose rights are threatened. I look forward to introducing the Class of 2017 to them and hope that their insights will inspire our graduates and their guests.”
Appointed by President Barack Obama, Preet Bharara served as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York from 2009 to 2017. He is best known for his prosecution of financial industry crimes, including his cases against Bernie Madoff and JPMorgan Chase, and his suits stemming from the financial crisis against Bank of America and Citibank. In 2015, he charged automaker Toyota with wire fraud for lying to customers about safety issues, resulting in a record $1.2 billion fine. Bharara’s firm stance against corruption resulted in the prosecution of public officials at all levels, notably New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and State Majority Leader Dean Skelos. Under Bharara, the U.S. Attorney’s Office was also known for its national security prosecutions in terrorism and cyberhacking cases, its civil rights cases, and its organized crime take-downs.
Prior to becoming a U.S. Attorney, Bharara served as Chief Counsel to New York Senator Charles Schumer and played a role in the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee’s investigation into the selective firings of U.S. attorneys in 2007. He also served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Manhattan for five years. Before entering public service, Bharara worked in the private sector for several years. He is a graduate of Harvard College and Columbia Law School. In 2015, he spoke before a standing-room-only crowd at NYLS’s 118th CityLaw Breakfast.
Laura Ricciardi ’96 received the 2017 Award for Outstanding Producer of Non-Fiction Television from the Producers Guild of America (PGA) for the documentary television series “Making a Murderer.” In addition to multiple Emmy wins and other accolades, the series received an American Bar Association Silver Gavel Award and the 2016 Media for a Just Society Distinguished Achievement Award from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.
Before becoming a filmmaker, Ricciardi clerked for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Hawaii and worked for the U.S. Department of Justice. She also practiced private-sector law in Chicago for several years. She met her producing partner, Moira Demos, in 2003 while pursuing her M.F.A. at Columbia University. Two years later, Ricciardi and Demos started production on “Making a Murderer,” which turned into a decade-long endeavor. Currently, the two are in production on the next installment of “Making a Murderer” and are adapting the Huffington Post serial “America’s Most Admired Lawbreaker” as a limited television series. In addition to her Columbia University M.F.A., Ricciardi earned degrees from Manhattan College and NYLS.
Previous NYLS Commencement speakers include former New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, U.S. Senator Cory A. Booker (D-NJ), Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit Robert A. Katzmann, New York County District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr., Vice Chairman of the First Data Board of Directors Joe Plumeri, and New York City Human Resources Administration Commissioner Steven Banks.
NYLS will graduate 235 candidates for the Juris Doctor (J.D.), including the first cohort of its accelerated Two-Year J.D. Honors Program, and 16 candidates for the Master of Laws (LL.M.).