College of Law Celebrates Commencement 2012

On May 11, the 136 graduates in the College of Law’s 99th graduating class assembled at Kingsbury Hall for Commencement 2012. Michael Hardman, Interim Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs at the U, welcomed all in attendance and acknowledged the support that the students had received from family, their professors, and the College of Law staff, but emphasized that this was the graduates’ day: “It’s all about you,” he said.  

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Dean Hiram Chodosh earned a round of applause from the audience when he noted that the College of Law faculty is not only involved in doctrinal developments in areas ranging from the environment to privacy and family, crime, justice, victims’ rights, new ventures, and technology, but was also engaging students in these real world issues. “Uniquely, our faculty is involving students in their work, and their invaluable contributions to the world beyond.”

Chodosh also reminded students about the record levels of service they had provided the community. “Our 400 students this past year provided 47,335 hours of formal public service through our think tanks, clinics and Pro Bono Initiative. Over 90% of this class has completed at least one clinic.  No other school in the country comes close to this level of voluntary service.”

“We congratulate you all on this beautiful day,” he concluded.

Student speaker Erika Skougard reminded students of how far they had traveled in the past three years. “We read 3,755 pages the first semester,” she recalled. “For a time, we were unfit company for anyone except each other, but we knew each other’s best and worst.”

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Skougard’s fellow graduate Blake Anthony Klinker began his remarks by confessing that he had a “bone to pick with attorneys.” Revealing that one practitioner had advised him to ‘Enjoy law school, because law school will be the best time in your life,’ Klinkard continued, “Law school has been a great time, but it’s a journey not the destination. I wish everyone in this audience great things,” he continued. “Buck the trends [and] ignore what we’ve been told by those naysayers.” 

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Garreth Long, the final student speaker, advised his colleagues not to “lose sight of what made us go to law school…. As I look out, I see very capable attorneys and even better people. What we do is what defines is.”

“We’re proud,” he continued, “but we’ll be prouder in 10 years [about] the differences we’ve made” in the world.

Commencement speaker and Alumna of the Year Deborah Dugan, a 1984 graduate of the College of Law, emphasized her connection to the assembled graduates. “Only years ago, I sat where you are,” she recalled. 

Dugan described the “personal, intangible connection” she developed with the College of Law, her faculty mentors and Utah’s natural beauty.  For her first few months of last school, the New York native was so homesick that she studied at bus stop in order to be breath the bus fumes that reminded her of home.  After a while, though, she began taking taking her books and exploring of the canyons surrounding Salt Lake City. “Law itself began to seem like a breath of fresh air, and less like carbon monoxide poisoning,” she quipped.

More seriously, Dugan, currently the CEO of (RED), a company created to engage the private sector in the fight against AIDS, shared her personal experiences of starting as a mergers and acquisitions associate at a large Wall Street firm, of her growing dissatisfaction with corporate law, and her eventual decision to “get off the beaten path.” She encouraged students to “think differently.” “What you have is a brain skilled in critical reasoning, problem solving and clarity of thought.  When those skills are combined with pursuing your passion, you are in a place to thrive.”

“Ignore all the noise and take the time to find your path,” she continued. ‘While you can’t predict the future, you are well poised to invent it.”

In his Concluding Remarks, Chodosh urged students to “Remember what you each taught us about—values, sacrifice, talent and service.”

“Remember the Biblical story of David vs. Goliath,” he said. “Your experience is your slingshot. Honor the commitment that [brought] you here, and the investments in your future. And slay the beast that stands between you and your bright future.”

Commencement 2012 Gallery:

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