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An Ending and a Beginning: 2012 Commencement Ceremonies

Provost, Dean, Speaker, Regent

Vice Provost Arlene Carney, Dean David Wippman, Senator Al Franken, Regent David McMillan (’87)

MAY 15, 2012—On May 12 the Law School held its 124th commencement ceremonies for the Class of 2012 at Mariucci Arena. Law School Dean David Wippman welcomed the graduates, their families and friends, and this year's special guests: University of Minnesota Regent David McMillan (’87), Executive Vice President of Minnesota Power; Arlene Carney, Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs; and keynote speaker Senator Al Franken.

Dean Wippman recalled his own law school education and "the analytical process and the commitment to justice we call thinking like a lawyer," commenting that "It has served me well; it has served generations of our graduates well; I trust it will serve you well also." Opportunities await, Wippman said, "and we wish you every success on your continuing journey."

Faculty Awards

Faculty Awards

Daniel Schwarcz, Senator Al Franken,
Dean David Wippman, George Jackson
Not pictured: Stephen Simon (’71),
Jon Hopeman (’76)

After introducing faculty members to the audience, Dean Wippman presented the annual Stanley V. Kinyon Teaching Awards for Excellence in Education, established by family and friends in honor of the late Prof. Stanley V. Kinyon (’33), a recognized commercial-law scholar and member of the Law School faculty for 40 years. The 2012 Kinyon Teaching Award recipients were:

Daniel Schwarcz: Overall Teacher
of the Year
George Jackson: Special/Library
Teacher of the Year
Stephen Simon (’71): Clinical Teacher
of the Year
Jon Hopeman (’76): Adjunct Teacher
of the Year

Student Awards


Jenna Cieslak, Amr Jaghoub, Sanjiv Laud, Matthew J.M. Pelikan, J. Bradley Emmons, Anne Fuchs

Many student awards, honors, and recognitions for participation in journals, moot courts, and other activities were presented at a special ceremony and reception on May 11 and are listed in the commencement booklet. Three special student awards were presented at the commencement ceremonies.

Recipients of two of the special awards were selected by the graduating class for exceptional contributions inside and outside the classroom during the three years of law study. Jenna Cieslak, co-chair of the Graduation Committee, student director of the Civil Practice Clinic, and a member of the Law Council, Budget Committee, and Student Senate, presented the awards.

The Outstanding Contribution Award was given to Sanjiv Laud, who served on the Law Council as a 1L Representative, Secretary, Treasurer, and President. He also was a student instructor in the 1L Legal Writing program, a Note and Comment Editor on the Minnesota Law Review, a member of the National Moot Court team, and a participant in TORT productions.

The Excellence in Public Service Award went to Anne Fuchs for her volunteer and non-profit legal work with the HOME Line, Stillwater's Public Defender's Office, the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights, Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services, the Minnesota Justice Foundation, and other organizations. She spent summers in Macedonia working on human trafficking and prison reform and in Alabama working on juvenile justice and special education. She also participated in the Human Rights and International Legal Advocacy Clinic and was on the board of Amnesty International.

The recipient of the third special student award—the William B. Lockhart Award for Excellence in Scholarship, Leadership, and Service—is selected by a faculty committee. It honors the Law School's fifth dean and 28-year faculty member for his dedication in enriching the curriculum, attracting leading scholars, and sharing his gift for teaching.

Dean Wippman presented the 2012 Lockhart Award to J. Bradley Emmons, who maintained a top GPA while winning best brief honors in legal writing and the Book Award for Professional Responsibility, serving as Lead Note and Comment Editor and publishing a note in the Minnesota Law Review, and assisting St. Paul low-income housing clients as a Mansfield Fellow. Emmons' service beyond the classroom included participation in the Asylum Law Project and a spring break trip to assist asylum seekers in Florence, Arizona, and leadership positions with the American Constitution Society, Federal Bar Association, Amnesty International, and Law Students for Reproductive Justice. He was also an orientation leader and legal writing instructor for new law students.

Class Gift

Cieslak and Fuchs, co-chairs of the Graduation Committee, announced that as its class gift, the class of 2012 pledged to contribute financially to the Law School for the next five years. More than 45% of class members pledged their participation. In honor of the Class of 2012 and in recognition of their efforts and generosity, the Office of Advancement contributed funds to a public interest postgraduate fellowship for a Class of 2012 graduate and to an update of the furnishings in the Lucille Dondore Lounge in the Law School's subplaza.

LL.M. Class of 2012 Graduation Address

Amr Jaghoub

Amr Jaghoub

This year's LL.M. class of 47 students representing 20 countries selected Amr Jaghoub, who earned his LL.B. at the University of Nottingham and now lives in Qatar, to deliver the LL.M. class graduation address. Jaghoub interned at the International Cooperation Bureau and Simmons & Simmons Middle East, both in Qatar, and at Clifford Chance in Dubai. He plans to focus on corporate and financial law.

Jaghoub said it felt like yesterday when he found himself "in a room full of strangers from all over the world," wondering how he and his classmates would get along. But before long "we all found that we shared a level of mutual respect that soon developed into friendship," he said. "Our similarities were far greater than our differences." Classmates were united by interests in the law, in world affairs, in learning from each other, and in embracing their new experiences and culture with an open mind, Jaghoub said. "The law we have learned will be invaluable to us throughout our careers," he said, and "we will now be going out as ambassadors to this fine institution."

J.D. Class of 2012 Graduation Address

Matthew Pelikan

Matthew J.M. Pelikan

Matthew J.M. Pelikan was chosen by his J.D. classmates to give the 2012 graduation address. He was as a student legal writing instructor, received honors in legal writing and research, and was elected editor-in-chief of volume 96 of the Minnesota Law Review, which was recently recognized as the tenth most cited law review in the country. Pelikan spent one summer in the Law School's Beijing program and another working for Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi. His next engagement is clerking for Justice Paul Anderson (’68) on the Minnesota Supreme Court.

Pelikan drew on "three years of instruction from some truly great faculty on the topic" to discuss what it means to be a lawyer. Ask Professor Dale Carpenter, Pelikan said, and he "might show us that a lawyer had best be good at the Socratic method, because life is full of cold calls." Professor Allan Erbsen "might show us that a lawyer is someone who meticulously plans," and Professor Brad Clary "might also say a lawyer is someone who knows the difference between a crossclaim and a counterclaim." Clinical professors might mention maintaining equity within the criminal justice system or protecting consumers, and professional responsibility experts might want to emphasize the many ways to not be a lawyer.

Clearly, there are many ways to be a lawyer. Instead of listening to anyone else, Pelikan concluded, "Why don't we, the Class of 2012, show what it means to be a lawyer?"

Commencement Address

Al Franken

Senator Al Franken

Dean Wippman presented commencement speaker Sen. Al Franken, a native of St. Louis Park, Minn., and a Harvard graduate who spent more than 35 years as a comedy writer, author, and radio talk show host before taking public office. Franken also participated in seven USO tours to Germany, Bosnia, Kosovo, and Uzbekistan and visited Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kuwait several times.

Franken was elected to the Senate as a member of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party in 2008 and, after a statewide hand recount, was sworn into office in July 2009. Almost immediately he introduced legislation to provide service dogs to disabled veterans and soon, working with Senate colleagues, secured $2 million to begin the program. He has worked to protect the rights of thousands of defense-contractor employees and women in the military; fought successfully to limit profits, administration, and marketing costs in the health insurance industry; and helped secure funding for diabetes prevention. He also has fought to end conflicts of interest in credit ratings, a key piece of Wall Street reform.

Currently a member of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pension Committee; the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, the Committee on Indian Affairs; and the Judiciary Committee, Franken began his commencement address by describing his first days in the Senate. He was assigned to the Judiciary Committee just as confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor were about to begin. To prepare, he spent hours talking with Law School faculty, learning about specific issues. But, Franken explained to graduates, "I also learned a broader lesson about the law: It isn't finished. Americans have been trying to 'establish justice' ever since those words were written in the Preamble to the Constitution. Each generation does its part to move that project forward. Now it's your turn."

Privacy law, for example, has been studied for generations. "But technology has changed the playing field when it comes to privacy, as I've discovered through my work chairing a subcommittee on exactly this issue," Franken said. Today our personal information, emails, and movements and can be collected, but is it secure? Is it being shared? If so, with whom? "The thing I worry about and the thing you, as members of the legal community, should think about," Franken said, "is that the law remains silent on these issues." It does nothing to ensure our knowledge and control over our personal information. "Our privacy laws are not finished," he said.

Franken reminded graduates, "It's important to remember that justice doesn't establish itself." Until courageous people "like Sheila and Paul Wellstone and Walter Mondale took it upon themselves to act," some basic issues of justice "weren't being addressed, let alone finished." Many issues remain, Franken said, awaiting people like the Class of 2012, "people who see law's imperfections as challenges to be overcome."

As the world changes, the law has to keep up, but it will never be finished, Franken told the Class of 2012. "Remember that your job is to do justice. Your job is to build upon the foundation laid centuries ago and leave it a little better for the next generation."

The Finale

TORT Singers

TORT singers Eleanor Frisch (’14), Kayleigh Brown (’13), Kirsten Selvig (’14), Meredith Leake (’14), David Pascoe (’14)

After remarks on behalf of the Board of Regents, Regent McMillan conferred their degrees on the J.D. and LL.M. graduates, who had selected Professors Ann Burkhart and Dale Carpenter and Director of International and Graduate Programs Khary Hornsby to present their diplomas.

Dean Wippman led the congratulations and invited graduates and guests to a reception on the concourse level of Mariucci Arena. The commencement ceremonies concluded with the singing of "Hail, Minnesota!" led by Kayleigh Brown (’13), Eleanor Frisch (’14), Meredith Leake (’14), David Pascoe (’14), and Kirsten Selvig (’14). The St. Anthony Brass Quintet provided accompaniment and departing-procession music.


Read the commencement remarks from:

· Senator Al Franken
· Amr Jaghoub (LL.M.)
· Matthew J.M. Pelikan (J.D.)