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Law School Honors Class of 2010 at Commencement

Arlene Carney, Dean Wippman, Amy Klobuchar, Patricia Simmons

Vice Provost Arlene Carney, Dean David Wippman, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Regent Patricia Simmons

MAY 18, 2010—Hundreds of new lawyers officially began their legal careers May 15 as the Law School welcomed its 122nd class of graduates during the commencement ceremonies.

Dean Wippman introduced the ceremony's special guests, thanking them for taking part in the day. Patricia Simmons, M.D., a member of the University of Minnesota Board of Regents, a professor of pediatrics at the Mayo Medical School, and a physician at the Mayo Clinic, had the privilege of conferring the degrees on the graduates, including her own daughter, Barbara Wold.

Arlene Carney, Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs in the Office of the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost, represented the University at the ceremonies.

In his remarks to the graduating class, Dean Wippman compared the practice and study of law to philosopher Soren Kierkegaard's view of life, quoting Kierkegaard: "Life can only be understood looking backward, [but] life must be lived going forward." The Dean noted that although lawyers are focused on precedent, the decision-making process requires a healthy balance between legal duty and the moral sense.

"The point of legal education is not to provide particular answers but to prepare students to undertake the kinds of reasoning and analysis necessary to illuminate hard questions," he said.

Faculty Awards:

Dean Wippman presented the Stanley V. Kinyon Teaching Awards for Excellence in Education, named for the late Prof. Stanley V. Kinyon ('33). Kinyon served on the Law School faculty for 40 years and was a recognized scholar in the field of commercial law. He assisted the state in legislative matters, including annotating the Minnesota version of the Uniform Commercial Code when it was adopted.

Kinyon award winners and dean Wippman

Dean Wippman stands with the Stanley V. Kinyon Teaching Award faculty. L-R: Judith T. Younger, Niel Willardson, Dean Wippman, Laura Thomas and Alexandra B. Klass

The Kinyon Teaching Awards honor Law School professors who provide outstanding excellence in teaching, across several categories. This year, a new category was added to recognize an adjunct teacher's contributions. The awardees for 2010 are:

Chaired Teacher of the Year: Judith T. Younger
Clinical Teacher of the Year: Laura Thomas
Teacher of the Year: Alexandra B. Klass
Adjunct Teacher of the Year: Niel Willardson

Student awards:

Two of the graduating class members presented the student awards for the Class of 2010.

Anthea Dexter-Cooper, a co-producer of the Theatre of the Relatively Talentless (TORT), director of the Civil Rights Moot Court, and a tireless contributor of pro bono work, presented the Excellence in Public Service Award.

Adosh Unni, who served as 3L representative on the Law Council, as Articles Submission Editor on the Minnesota Law Review, and as a member of both the Law School's Diversity Committee and the executive board of the Asylum Law Project, presented the Most Outstanding Contribution Award.

Each year, the graduating class selects the awardees based on their outstanding contributions both inside and outside the classroom during their three years of law study.

Brianna Mooty

Brianna Mooty

Brianna Mooty received the Excellence in Public Service Award, bestowed on the graduating student who exhibited exemplary commitment to public service roles both in the Law School and the community at large.

Mooty wasted no time becoming involved in public service, serving as president of the Asylum Law Project during her first year at the Law School. She also has served as co-president of the Minnesota Justice Foundation Student Chapter and as coordinator of the Raise the Bar Day of Service.

In addition to being an editor on the Journal of Law and Inequality and a student director of the Immigration and Human Rights Clinic, Mooty also found time to assist her fellow students as an LL.M. mentor and entertain all with her talents in TORT productions.

Eugene "Hard Knocks" Kim was awarded the Most Outstanding Contribution Award, honoring the graduate who showed outstanding involvement in academic programs, participation and leadership in extracurricular activities, and enhancement of the Law School experience.

Eugene Kim

Eugene "Hard Knocks" Kim

Known among his classmates for his generous and exuberant personality, Kim quickly found his niche as a natural recruiter, serving as a student ambassador for the Admissions office. When he became president of the Law Council, Kim increased involvement in intramural sports, and he never passed up an opportunity to get students involved in the latest activity, even if it was a hotdog-eating contest. He also served as a director of the Child Advocacy Clinic.

As a gift to the Law School, the Class of 2010 pledged the funds to renovate the Law Library's second-floor seating area, including the purchase of new furniture. The Law Council provided matching funds for the project.

Dean Wippman then presented the William B. Lockhart Award for Excellence in Scholarship, Leadership, and Service. The award's namesake served 28 years on the faculty and was the Law School's fifth dean. Lockhart emphasized the obligation of legal scholars to provide societal leadership, and he championed the deep commitment to community service that has become one of the Law School's hallmark values.

Joseph Hansen

Joseph C. Hansen

Joseph C. Hansen, this year's Lockhart Award recipient, excelled in both classroom academics and research on real-world issues. He served as a student director of the Human Rights Litigation and International Advocacy Clinic, added to the Law School's curriculum this spring. He spent several years as a research assistant for Professor David Weissbrodt, investigating international humanitarian law.

As a 3L, Hansen was lead Note & Comment Editor on the Minnesota Law Review, published a Note on Guantánamo detainees and the law of war, and was honored for his work on Volume 93 with an award for Outstanding Staff Publication.

Hansen served on the Law Council all three of his Law School years, as vice president in his third year. Through the Asylum Law Project, he volunteered at Advocates for Human Rights, and set up a volunteer position at the Immigration Detained Court in Bloomington. On his own, Joe organized a trip to Tanzania to volunteer with an NGO that houses and schools destitute children.

Many other student accolades had been presented earlier, at a special awards ceremony and reception for graduates, family, and friends held May 14.< p>

Commencement speakers:

Khaled Al Tal

Khaled Al Tal, of Amman, Jordan, delivers the LL.M. Address

The Class of 2010 was privileged to include 29 LL.M. students, representing 23 countries. Khaled Al Tal, from Amman, Jordan, was chosen by his peers to deliver the LL.M. Graduation Address.

Prior to his arrival at the Law School, Al Tal had earned an LL.B. from the University of Jordan and had worked as a corporate lawyer. When Jordan experienced a housing boom five years ago, he suddenly found himself representing developers in the complex arena of construction and financial negotiations. Some of his colleagues were alumni of the Law School, and encouraged him to expand his legal expertise with an LL.M. degree.

In his speech, Al Tal noted that although the United States is in a period of recession and financial volatility, the country is still the "crux of corporate civilization." As a corporate lawyer, Al Tal knew he had to hone his skills by studying the American legal system. He reflected on the highlights of his time at the Law School, including witnessing a federal judge preside over a case and discovering the "greatness and dignity of the people I encountered and befriended."

He reminded his fellow graduates to keep their legal skills in perspective: "The knowledge we are given is just a tool and a skill. It holds no value outside what we breathe into it in our practice. And it is therefore our foremost moral responsibility and our greatest duty to use it for the greatest good."

Cameron Wood

Cameron Wood delivers the J.D. Address

The Class of 2010 chose Cameron Wood to deliver the J.D. Graduation Address. After earning an undergraduate degree focused on political science, a trip to Beijing inspired Wood to take a job with a Chinese trademark and intellectual property firm as a legal intern, and then to tackle law school. Chinese culture continued to pervade Wood's life during his legal studies: As a summer associate with Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, he divided his time between the New York and Hong Kong offices. Wood served as president of the International Law Society and as a managing editor of the Minnesota Law Review, still finding time to help write and perform in several TORT productions.

In his address, Wood recalled his early experiences as a new law student: Fears of brief writing, struggles to "see things through a legal lens," and discoveries of a possible tort in nearly every situation.

But he also noted that an important part of the Law School experience was discovering the myriad roles available for those with legal knowledge, including litigating in the courtroom, presiding on the bench, and advocating for under-represented.

Wood encouraged his classmates to remember the personality and character of their peers and the Law School's emphasis on leading a balanced life rather than engaging in "cutthroat competition." The extra-curricular activities and outbursts of fun—TORT musicals, carnivals, contests, and even midnight wheelie chair races in the library—emphasized the importance of camaraderie within the structure of legal education. These activities, he said, enhanced the students' work ethic and reminded them not to take themselves too seriously.

"The conventional wisdom is that the world simply does not need any more lawyers," Wood continued. "But I know one thing for certain: The world needs more of the type of lawyers who are graduating from the University of Minnesota today... It simply needs passionate and well-rounded lawyers who love what they do."

U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar delivers the Keynote Address

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Minnesota's first elected female U.S. senator, delivered this year's Commencement Address.

Klobuchar has served in the Senate since 2006, including acting as Minnesota's only senator, following the highly contested 2008 election. Following the I-35W bridge collapse, she quickly secured funding to rebuild the bridge, which reopened less than a year later. She is known as a fierce advocate for working mothers, criminal justice reforms, health and education benefits, and product safety.

Before winning her Senate seat, Klobuchar served for eight years as Hennepin County Attorney, the first woman to head that county's office. She was a leading advocate for the passage of Minnesota's first felony drunk-driving law, earning her a 2001 leadership award from Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Prior to her elected office, the Plymouth native was a partner at Dorsey & Whitney and at Gray Plant Mooty. Among her many accomplishments, she advocated for legislation requiring 48-hour, insurance-paid hospital stays for new mothers and their infants.

Klobuchar encouraged the graduates to tackle every job with dedication and a good attitude, noting that her first task as an intern in Vice President Mondale's office was to catalogue the office furniture. "Be courageous and persevere," she said. "Never sell yourself short, because you never know where you’re going to end up in life. One day you’re an intern doing a furniture inventory; the next day, you’re a Senator!"

In light of the recent Supreme Court retirements, Klobuchar reflected on past and present Supreme Court justices, many of whom had humble beginnings and had been willing to do any job, no matter how menial, to reach their goals. She spoke especially of the quiet example shown by the late Justice Harold Blackmun, who made his way from a working-class St. Paul neighborhood to the nation's highest Court.

She urged the graduates to hold tight to the lessons learned at Law School, especially the importance of digging deeply into both side of a case to "see the shades of gray." Remembering this will help you make better decisions when the pressure is on, she said, adding: "The truth is rarely cut and dried. And no one person—or political party, for that matter—has a monopoly on truth."

Seeking justice is a constant challenge, she said—so easy to profess, but so difficult to live in practice. "We can’t have two systems of justice, one for the rich and powerful and one for everyone else," she said. "Conduct yourself well, pay attention to that 'still, small voice' inside you that is your conscience, and do justice."

Once all degrees had been conferred, Dean Wippman gave the new lawyers a new phrase to take away with them: "Let me leave you with one final Latin tag phrase: vale atque vale—hail and farewell!"

TORT singers

The TORT singers: Front, L-R: Allison Cross, Amy Bauer; Center: Jennifer Lange; Back, L-R: Cameron Wood, David Couillard

Keeping with tradition, the commencement ceremonies concluded with the singing of "Hail, Minnesota!," led by the Law School's TORT singers (Amy Bauer, David Couillard, Jennifer Cross, Allison Lange, and Cameron Wood). Immediately following, the grads and guests enjoyed a champagne and hors d'oeuvres reception on the sunny Northrop Terrace and Mall.

panoramic view of outdoor reception

Graduates and guests enjoy the sunshine during the reception on Northrup Terrace and Mall.

This article was featured in e-Perspectives, spring 2010

Now available to read online, commencement remarks from: