Willamette University, Students at the Mill Stream

College of Law News

Law School Celebrates 126th Commencement

Juris doctor degrees are a powerful tool to ensure access to justice for all, said retired California Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno at the law school’s 126th commencement earlier this month. “I hope each of you will use your hard-earned degree to confront the many problems in society,” he said.

“Ours is a system founded on laws that seek to ensure justice and fairness to all,” Moreno said. “Unless those rights are exercised and given meaning by lawyers like you and judges like me, they may as well cease to exist for many people in our society.”

The law school awarded 123 JDs and two LLMs at the commencement and hooding ceremony for the Class of 2012, which included students who graduated last December. The hooding was performed by Professor David A. Friedman and Professor Edward J. Harri. Professor Richard F. Breen, who directed the J.W. Long Law Library for 36 years and is retiring in August, was given an emeritus diploma.

The valedictorian was McKinnon H. Hanson. Two students graduated summa cum laude; eight graduated magna cum laude; and 13 students graduated cum laude.

Dean Peter Letsou told graduates they’d face challenges ahead – passing the bar exam, starting their careers at a time of economic difficulty – but they are entering “a noble profession with the ability to change people’s lives.
“As you enter your new profession, remember the university’s motto: ‘Not unto ourselves alone are we born,’” he said. “Focus on doing good, not only on doing well.”