Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi Speaks at Class of 2013 Commencement
Democratic Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi delivered the commencement address and David Wiener '13 received the Law School Medal for academic achievement as UC Davis School of Law honored graduating JD and LLM students at the 2013 Commencement Ceremony on May 17 at the UC Davis Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts.
The School of Law granted 196 JD and 35 LLM degrees at the event, which nearly filled to capacity the 1,800-seat Mondavi Center and included remarks from UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi, Dean Kevin R. Johnson, Professor Edward Imwinkelried, and student speaker Alexander Rich '13.
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"We have a great law school because we have great students," Dean Johnson said in his welcoming remarks. "The Class of 2013 is remarkable."
The dean praised the graduating class's diversity of backgrounds and life experiences, successes in moot court and mock trial competitions, hard work in organizing conferences and special events, and devotion to public service. He introduced student speaker Alexander Rich, who touched on the class's many successes in clinical work, competitions, and community organizing, and shared fond memories of the late Professor Keith Aoki, who died in 2011.
"This class is going to produce a lot of good lawyers," said Rich. "In this we are not the first class at King Hall, nor will we be the last, because King Hall attracts good folk, the kind who are not only smart and talented but who want to make a difference, whether that be providing a voice for the voiceless, or simply being there for somebody. So congratulations, Class of 2013. We have earned the right to become lawyers and that is something no one else can take from us."
Professor Imwinkelried spoke of his "tremendous respect" for the Class of 2013, and compared its members to two old friends who became inspirational figures for him: Robert Katayama, whose respectfulness and civility he admired while serving under him as an Army lawyer in Vietnam, and Jim Sell, another colleague in Vietnam who in "an incredible act of selflessness" actively "hid from the orders sending him home" in order to remain in country and continue to help refugees fleeing the war.
"As admirable as they are, you've already shown the potential to be just like them," Professor Imwinkelried said. "If you hold on to the moral compass that you've shown in the last three years, if you adhere to that value of civility and continue to exhibit that same selflessness you've shown in the last three years, you're going to be more than fine attorneys. Much more importantly, you're going to be admirable citizens who inspire the people around you."
"Congratulations to all of you, our graduates, and to your families and friends who stood behind you during these very challenging years of hard work and study," said Chancellor Katehi. "You have achieved a true milestone by graduating from one of the top law schools in the country, and I know there will be many more great accomplishments in your futures." She talked about the importance of personal commitment, flexibility, and perseverance in facing the challenges ahead.
"When I look at this class of law school graduates and the world that we live in," Chancellor Katehi said, "I know that we still need people who will interpret the law for the rest of us, we still need people like you who will defend the weak and prosecute the perpetrators, and improve our culture and our ethics, and we need you to help sustain our democracy. You are the ones who will show us the way forward."
Congresswoman Pelosi, who as Speaker of the House from 2007 to 2011 was the highest-ranking woman ever in U.S. politics, offered her congratulations to the graduates and their families, and talked about the challenges ahead for them and for the nation, including the need to address income disparity, immigration reform, marriage equality, and other issues. "The challenge is to make that legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King and all that we talked about your own. To know that you as lawyers, as public servants, as graduates of King Hall have the legal education, as I said before, and the moral wherewithal, and the confidence, and the courage to pursue the work of justice," Congresswoman Pelosi said.
The event, which drew roughly 1,700 graduates, friends, and family to the Mondavi Center, received widespread coverage from local media, including mentions in reports on KCRA-3 and National Public Radio affiliate KXJZ, as well as articles in the Sacramento Bee and Davis Enterprise.