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Boston bombing prosecutor Chakravarty 97L: Why Emory? I wanted to make a difference.

A. Kenyatta Greer |
Chakravarty 97L looks away from camera
Learning the law - and then some
Chakravarty 97L says Emory Law taught him more than legal doctrine. It taught him how to be a professional.

“How you practice the law is equally as important as how well you practice the law.” So said Aloke Chakravarty 97L, an assistant United States attorney for the District of Massachusetts and the speaker at this year’s Welcome Week convocation. Maintaining integrity and character may not be on the list of courses Chakravarty took during his time at Emory, but they are lessons he says he learned nonetheless. More than 400 new law students gathered to find out what they could expect to learn during their time at the school – and to find out why the renowned litigator chose Emory Law above all others.

He was reminded of the answer to that question on the biggest day of his career. On April 15, 2013, when Chakravarty heard the commotion from the Boston Marathon bombing and saw the coverage on television, he did what came naturally: he hurried over to the FBI, where he connected with police, troopers and agents, many of whom he had forged relationships with throughout his career -- as a state and federal prosecutor, and as a national security lawyer. There, he helped establish a command post within minutes of the bombing and helped execute the response. He didn’t leave that command post for several days. After a long manhunt, during which he typed up criminal charges against the suspect, a colleague approached him and asked, “Emory, huh? Why Emory?” Chakravarty joked that it was flattering to realize the colleague had been checking him out online, but he traded his amusement for pride when he answered, “Because I wanted to make a difference.”

He recalled that when he decided to become a lawyer, he was unsure of what kind of lawyer to become. One thing of which he was certain: Emory Law was where he could get the education he needed to do it.

“Being an Emory Lawyer is not just a brand, it’s about caring about each other, being excellent and making the world a better place,” Chakravarty said. As he addressed the Welcome Week crop of new Emory Lawyers, he gave them a final word of advice: “You chose Emory Law,” he said. “You were lucky enough to get in, so that means it chose you, too.  … If you care passionately about what you want to do, forge relationships with your fellow students and professors, use every opportunity to excel, and, most of all, trust in yourself.”

As a result of the skilled arguments by Chakravarty and the prosecution team, the defendant was found guilty and, in June 2015, was sentenced to death for his part in the Boston Marathon bombing.