In 2007, I was in the middle of my doctoral studies at Oxford when I was lucky enough to be invited to the International Achievement Summit in Washington, D.C. Soon thereafter, I moved to D.C. when the U.S. Department of Defense hired me to serve as legal counsel to the Guantanamo Bay detainees. If there is a worthwhile challenge — be it professionally, morally, or intellectually — it is being appointed to fight day in and day out for the rule of law in a place that many fear has become a “legal black hole.”
I have had my victories and defeats along the way. I have argued landmark cases on the intersection between the law of war and the Constitution. But through the ups and downs and the exhaustion and excitement, I have always tried to remember Archbishop Tutu’s admonition that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. It is a lesson I have tried to impress upon my law students at Georgetown. And it is a lesson that is particularly important for people privileged with talent and opportunity; put another way, the people the Academy brings together each year.
The Summit was a great experience, not least because I got to meet and be inspired by Archbishop Tutu in person. There is a “contact high” from mingling with so many talented and accomplished people at the Summit. It reminds you of what you can achieve, and how far you still have to go. It imbues you with the confidence to earn the opportunities you have been given, by pursuing justice and daring greatly.