NEW ORLEANS — The future of the United States will be molded by the students now sitting in law classrooms, and the legal academy has a responsibility to instill in them faith in the law and its ability to fight injustice and protect the most vulnerable.

Justice Edwin Cameron of South Africa’s high court delivered that message to attendees of the Association of American Law Schools annual meeting on Thursday in New Orleans during an address in which he highlighted the role of lawyers in dismantling the country’s longstanding apartheid system, in the creation of the country’s constitution 25 years ago, in the fight to bring affordable AIDS drugs to the country, and in the judiciary’s work to hold elected officials accountable for malfeasance.

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