Go to the U of M home page.

Law School Presents The Class of 2009

Dean Wippman speaking at 2009 commencement
Dean Wippman welcomes the 2009
grads, families and friends
May 19, 2009—The University of Minnesota Law School conferred degrees on more than 300 graduates during its 121st Commencement Ceremonies, held May 16 in Northrup Auditorium.

Law School Dean David Wippman, in his remarks to the graduating class, noted that the legal profession is far more than its dictionary definition. "To be a lawyer, you must be learned in law," he said. "But to be a good lawyer, you must also be wise about law. You have entered a profession, not merely a trade; you can use law for your own ends, or for the greater good. If you’re fortunate, perhaps you can do both."

Arlene Carney, Dean Wippman, Clyde E. Allen Jr., Judge Michael Davis
L to R: Arlene Carney; Dean David
Wippman; Clyde E. Allen, Jr;
Judge Michael Davis ('72)
Dean Wippman then thanked the university's special guests in attendance, including Clyde E. Allen, Jr., Vice Chair of the University of Minnesota Board of Regents; Arlene Carney, Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs and Provost; and this year's keynote speaker, the Hon. Michael Davis ('72), Chief Judge, U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota.


Faculty Awards:

    Dean Wippman presented this year's Stanley V. Kinyon Teaching Awards for excellence in education, named in honor of the late Prof. Stanley V. Kinyon ('33). In addition to serving 40 years on the Law School faculty, Kinyon was a recognized scholar in the field of commercial law and served the state by annotating the Minnesota version of the Uniform Commercial Code when it was adopted.

Kinyon faculty award winners
Kinyon Faculty Awardees: (L to R:)
Profs. Laura Cooper, Prentiss Cox ('90),
Bill McGeveran, Ann Burkhart
The Kinyon Teaching Awards recognize one individual for overall teaching excellence, and three individuals for excellence in special categories.

Teacher of the Year:

Ann Burkhart

Tenured Teacher of the Year:

Laura Cooper

Tenure-Track Teacher of the Year:

Bill McGeveran

Clinical Teacher of the Year:

Prentiss Cox ('90)


Student awards:

    The Class of 2009 student awards were presented by Jon Taylor, president of the Law Council, and Lindsay Moilanen, co-chair of the student graduation committee. The awardees were chosen by the members of the graduating class, and recognized superior student contributions over the three years of law study.

Photo of Lindsay Moilanen, Jon Taylor, Kyle Hawkins, Timothy Cristman, Michael Schmidt, and Annie Jacob
(Clockwise, from far left:)
Lindsay Moilanen, Jon Taylor,
Kyle Hawkins, Timothy Christman,
Michael Schmidt, and Annie Jacob
Michael Schmidt was awarded The Class of 2009 Excellence in Public Service Award. Some of Schmidt's vast public service activities include serving as treasurer of the Amnesty International Legal Support Network, president of the Minnesota Justice Foundation Student Chapter, and domestic student liaison for the International Law Student Association. He also served as co-chair and treasurer of Raise the Bar (2007-2009) and volunteered for Child Protection International.

Kyle Hawkins received the Most Outstanding Contribution Award, which honors the student who has contributed the most through leadership and participation in academic programs and extracurricular activities. After graduating magna cum laude from Harvard, Hawkins spent three years teaching English in Hiroshima, Japan. At the Law School, he put his literary skills to use as a writer on the 2009 TORT script, and he offered his skills on the piano for the 2007 and 2008 TORT productions. Kyle was a volunteer in Raise the Bar, Asylum Law Project, and HOMEline activities, and he was editor-in-chief of Volume 93 of the Minnesota Law Review.

Moilanen then presented the class gift: Benches for the front entrance to the Law School. The gift, donated in partnership with the Class of 1989, will provide a convenient place for study breaks and socializing for future students, she said.

Kyle Hawkins also was chosen by the faculty to receive the William B. Lockhart Award for Excellence in Scholarship, Leadership, and Service, presented by Dean Wippman. The award honors William B. Lockhart, who served as the fifth dean of the Law School and taught on the faculty for 28 years. During his tenure, he enriched the curriculum and brought leading scholars to the Law School. He also became known for his insistence that legal scholars are obligated to provide community leadership.

Many other student accolades had been presented earlier, at a special awards ceremony and reception for grads, friends and family held May 15.

Timothy Christman
Timothy J. Christman
delivers the J.D. Address

Commencement speakers:

    Timothy J. Christman was chosen by his peers to deliver the Class of 2009 J.D. Address. Christman came to the Law School with a master’s degree in electrical engineering from the Missouri University of Science and Technology and a resume that included work designing and testing life-saving medical technologies. During law school, he worked as a registered patent agent. Now, with a law degree in hand, his plan is to put his love of science and engineering to use protecting inventors’ interests as an intellectual property lawyer.

Christman reminded fellow graduates that the "academically rigorous environment" they are leaving is not a climactic endpoint: Rather, he said, it is "simply a first hurdle—a mere conditioning—to prepare us for greater opportunities ahead." The Class of 2009 will embrace their new profession with resilience, academic strength, and a multi-faceted view of the world, Christman noted. "The law—our law—is ultimately a mirror of ourselves, a quintessentially human institution."

Annie Jacob
Annie Jacob, an LL.M student
from Kerala, India, delivers
the LL.M Address
    Annie Jacob, an LL.M. student from Kerala, India, was chosen by her peers to deliver the LL.M. Graduation Address. The Class of 2009 was privileged to include 34 LL.M. students, who had traveled from 18 countries to take part in the Law School's curriculum.

Jacob had earned degrees in law and in cyber-law from Bishop Cotton Women’s Christian Law College in Bangalore and had spent a year working as a legal associate at a leading law firm in India before coming to the Law School to pursue her interest in corporate law. Her goal is to be an attorney of multi-jurisdictional standing, so she can help businesses pursue the best and most efficient solutions in any setting.

Jacob began her address by greeting her fellow students in the various languages represented by the LL.M. Class of 2009. She noted how they had all survived the Minnesota winter and had celebrated the customs and holidays of the world together. She also noted that their Law School experiences had included many extraordinary opportunities, including guest lecturers such as Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Their LL.M. experience, she said, has inspired them to become "ambassadors of change... not just as lawyers, but as world leaders."

Chief Judge Michael Davis
Hon. Michael Davis ('72),
Chief Judge, U.S. District Court,
District of Minnesota

    Chief Judge Michael Davis, a 1972 Law School alumnus, delivered the Commencement Address. Judge Davis was appointed to the Federal Bench by President Clinton in 1994, making him the first African-American Federal Judge in Minnesota. He became Chief Judge of the District of Minnesota in 2008. Prior to his federal service, he had studied at The Hague Academy of International Law, served as a criminal defense lawyer in St. Paul, and served on the Fourth Judicial Municipal Court of Minnesota and the District Court bench.

In 1999, Supreme Court Justice Rehnquist appointed Davis to a seven-year term on the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. In addition, for the past 25 years, the Law School's students have been fortunate to benefit from Davis' insights and skill in the classroom, where he serves as an adjunct professor.

Judge Davis noted that he was able to greet the Class of 2009 at the beginning and the end of its Law School journey, since he had addressed the class three years ago, at its orientation. He reminisced about his own student days at the Law School, including meeting a certain undergraduate named Sara—who later would become his wife.

Davis also reflected on what it was like to be a young lawyer in the 1970s, amid the Civil Rights movement and Vietnam war. "The U.S. Supreme Court was handing down landmark decisions that helped shape our country into a more perfect union on issues of civil rights, criminal law, racial segregation, First Amendment free speech issues, and separation of church and state," he said. "It was an exciting and turbulent time for the country. It was the right time for me to be involved in the law."

He credited the Law School for his introduction to public service: As a second-year student, he received a small summer stipend to work at the non-profit Legal Rights Center, which fought for equal justice in criminal proceedings for Native Americans and African-Americans. "I found my calling that summer, and the rest was history," Davis recalled.

Davis referred to law as a "noble calling" and remarked on its impact: "Lawyers are at the hub of America's economic, political, and intellectual life," he said. "I hope you recognize that you have the ability to make the difference." He challenged the graduates to keep public service at the fore: "Always remember that the legal profession is a public profession. It demands not simply personal and professional integrity, but also that we give something back to the community," he said. This, he said, will become even more important as the economic downturn continues to affect the state court system through reduced budgets and minimized service hours.

Davis concluded by noting that several recent legal events may end up defining the graduates' era just as Brown v. Board of Education defined his own. These events include the 2008 election of the first African-American president and the definition of waterboarding as torture, Davis said.

TORT alumni singers
The TORT alumni singers:
(Clockwise, from lower left:)
Shana Marchand, Timothy Schmidt,
Angela Berry, Mark Torma,
Lauren Frank, and David Robbin

Concluding ceremonies

    After Dean Wippman and Regent Allen had conferred the degrees, Dean Wippman then offered a few more parting words: "Graduates, as part of your legal education, we have gifted you with numerous Latin phrases you can use to impress your clients and mystify your friends: res ipsa loquitur, subpoena duces tecum, rebus sic stantibus, and so many more. Before we end today, let me leave you with one final Latin tag phrase: vale atque vale—hail and farewell!"

    The ceremonies concluded with the singing of "Hail, Minnesota!," led by the Law School's TORT (Theatre of the Relatively Talentless) singers (Angela Berry, Lauren Frank, Shana Marchand, David Robbin, Timothy Schmidt, and Mark Torma). Immediately following, the grads and guests enjoyed a champagne and hors d'oeuvres reception on the Northrop Terrace and Mall.

Happy crowd during graduation
The joyous crowd following graduation

Graduates entering Northrop Auditorium


Graduates exiting Northrop