Right Hand Man: Caron and Hamilton

Hamilton changed my life. I am not exaggerating when I say Lin Manuel-Miranda will be remembered as the William Shakespeare of our time.”

Dean Caron first saw Hamilton last August. His daughter was beginning medical school, so he wanted to mark the moment by doing something special. Before seeing the play, his daughter had the soundtrack on repeat at home and in the car, so Caron was familiar with the lyrics. Not only does Caron believe that the play is “genius,” but he feels it’s a compelling musical metaphor for his tenure as dean and what lawyers can learn most from Hamilton–fearless adaptation.  

Like Alexander Hamilton arriving to a new city, Caron has arrived at Pepperdine Law to begin a new and challenging endeavor. Caron subscribes to Hamilton’s faith in the power of ideas and the willingness to question conventional wisdom. He frequently quotes the play in meetings and lectures, explaining how Hamilton’s advice applies to law students. First, Caron encourages students to take ideas seriously. “My first suggestion is that you take a little bit of Hamilton’s attitude with you into your classes. Relentlessly question conventional wisdom.” Additionally, Caron illustrates the importance of networking and community as demonstrated through the characters’ personal relationships. Like the early friendships Hamilton forged with Hercules Mulligan and John Laurens, Caron emphasizes to students that professional lives begin NOW! “You are already making friends who will matter for the rest of your life as a lawyer.”

The faith aspect of the play, which Caron believes is largely overlooked, is the theme that most affected him. “The first seventy-five percent of the play is about how Hamilton, through perseverance, hard work, and study, used the power of his words to rise up from being a poor orphan in the Caribbean.” The remainder of the play demonstrates the redemptive power of forgiveness and reconciliation in the face of unimaginable tragedy and loss. Caron adapts many of Manuel-Miranda’s lyrics to the legal education experience: “We are called to exude a spirit of forgiveness in our lives together.” Pepperdine Law, Caron says, “will be a better place if we do so.”

Let me tell you what I wish I’d known

When I was young and dreamed of glory

You have no control:

Who lives

Who dies

Who tells your story?

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