The law school’s eighth commencement ceremony celebrated the accomplishments of 180 graduates, including the first to receive Master of Laws, Master of Legal Studies and accelerated Juris Doctor degrees.
The class included four internationally trained lawyers who received an LLM in American Legal Studies, 20 professionals who received a Master of Legal Studies that will enable them to advance their careers in compliance and 19 who earned their JDs just 24 months after starting law school.
“You are well on your way to a career that can be personally satisfying and of great service,” President John Fry told the graduates.
After receiving an honorary degree, former New York University President John Sexton exhorted the graduates to make good use of education and training they received, which he called “the greatest gift humans have created.”
“Do not commit a sin of omission by failing to deploy the gift you’ve been given,” Sexton said, calling the question of how they will use their newfound knowledge a tougher test than the bar exam.
Condemning the evolution of civic discourse into “a coliseum culture” that has “a deep allergy to nuance,” Sexton said lawyers have a duty to serve as “the conscience of the civil realm” and to halt a corrosion of community and common enterprise that is undermining society.
Sexton applauded Fry for setting a new standard for civic and global engagement at Drexel and Dean Roger Dennis for building a school and faculty of exceptional stature in just 10 years’ time.
Stradley Ronon Chairman William Sasso, who also received an honorary degree, said he was honored to receive a degree from a school that he considers “the best law school in the United States.”
Law school benefactor Tom Kline told the graduates they have become part of a remarkable story and tradition.
“A legion of Kline School of Law attorneys who make a difference in the lives of the people they serve,” Kline said.
Dennis commended the graduates for providing more than 15,000 hours of pro bono service to those in the community who struggle to find legal representation, for offering legal assistance through the Community Lawyering Clinic that serves residents of the University’s neighboring communities of Mantua and Powelton Village and for representing startup businesses that are infusing energy into the local economy through the Entrepreneurial Law Clinic.
Observing that some graduates had been crowned national champions in the American Association for Justice Student Trial Advocacy Competition and regional champions in the Texas Young Lawyers Association Mock Trial Competition, Dennis said they demonstrate that the class features “precisely the kind of determined, conscientious and creative individuals that Philadelphia and the world need.”
Dennis added that he observed their accomplishments with relief.
“I am just glad that when I was a practicing attorney," he said, "I did not have to face our students across the table.”
Class speakers Tony Alvarez and Hannah Molitoris commended their peers and professors for creating “a family that turned into a community” and apologized for treating their loved ones as “punching bags” amidst the pressures of their studies.
Leaders of the Student Bar Association conferred the Tobey Oxholm Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Law School Community upon Associate for Career Strategies Dean Donna Gerson, in recognition of the successful efforts she and her staff have made on behalf of job seeking students and graduates.
Graduating student Réb Bénoit filled the Kimmel Center with a soaring rendition of the National Anthem, while classmate Nicole Martini offered a benediction in song, “Forever Young.”