Preet Bharara: Fordham’s Graduation Speaker
On May 19, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Mr. Preet Bharara, will deliver the commencement speech for Fordham Law School’s 106th graduation ceremony. If you would like a relatively short, and decidedly bland, bio of Preet, you can check out the official Fordham Law description. On the other hand, if you’d rather find out what U.S. Attorney Bharara has been up to recently, read on.
Bharara, heralded as the New Sheriff of Wall Street (not to be confused with this New Sheriff of Wall Street, or this one, or these other sheriffs) has been extremely busy these last few months, continuing to rack up insider trading convictions, going after big banks for reckless mortgage lending, confronting major pharma companies for Medicare kickback schemes, and indicting numerous New York officials on public corruption charges (oh yeah, he’s the New Sheriff of Albany now as well). Not to mention, all of this during government-wide hiring freezes and now severe budget cuts thanks to sequestration.
His recent success has engendered inane chatter of unsubstantiated rumors that he may, possibly, but probably not, but maybe he is, eyeing some higher elected office. Even The Boss has joined in on the love-fest. Bharara, who’s devotion to Bruce Springsteen rivals that of Chris Christie, received a shout-out from the NJ-native superstar at a concert in November 2012, seemingly for Bharara’s success in going after the “robber barons” of Wall Street.
But not everyone is thrilled with Bharara’s performance. Some pundits have continued to criticize his failure to seek criminal prosecutions of former high-ranking executives of mortgage companies for reckless lending during the subprime meltdown (of course there are valid reasons). He’s also officially on Vladimir Putin’s shit list. That’s right, Bharara was recently officially barred from travelling to Russia after a tit-for-tat diplomatic squabble resulted in several high-ranking American officials from administrations past and present put on the you’re-not-welcome-at-Sochi-this-winter list.
But no matter if you’re a supporter or detractor, the real reason Bharara stands out is that he simply is a great guy. He is exceedingly smart, legitimately funny, charismatic, never aloof, and always personable. He never loses his composure. He never passes the buck, and he routinely highlights the contributions of his AUSAs and support staff alike. You might say I’m biased. And you’d be right. But you need not take my word for it. Nearly everyone who has worked with Bharara, on both sides of the political aisle, has extolled his even-handedness and professional demeanor. Like I said, he’s a great guy.
At graduation, Bharara will no doubt enlighten the Class of 2013 with some invaluable, and undoubtedly witty, career advice. And if you can’t get enough of Bharara’s words of wisdom—he’s booked at Columbia Law School’s graduation on May 23 as well. What? He’s popular!
-David Farber, Contributor
*David Farber is a 1L at Fordham Law and worked for the US Attorney’s Office doing civil fraud cases as a paralegal from 2010-2012.