May 5, 2005
COMMENCEMENT: Class of 2005 “set the bar very high”
The University of Oregon School of Law 2005 class has paid it forward, contributing over 12,000 hours of free legal help pro bono service – before they have even passed the bar.
Class speaker Martha Pellegrino said, We raised the standards for leadership, service, and achievement and set the bar very high for future classes.
The guest speaker was Jeff Adachi, San Francisco’s elected public defender Adachi’s parents and grandparents spent part of WWII in the Japanese internment camps. His family’s experience was the impetus for his career as one of the Bay Area’s most high-profile defenders. For 25 years, the Sacramento native and fourth-generation Japanese American has fought to seize equal justice for the young, the immigrants, the poor and the minorities of California.
Eugene attorney Alice Plymell was selected for the 2005 Meritorious Service Award, given each year to recipients who have made extraordinary contributions to legal education and the law. She is a 1963 graduate of the law school and one of the first three women to practice in Eugene. She was born on a farm in Ontario, Oregon and made up her mind in eighth grade to become a lawyer since physical disabilities would not prevent her from succeeding in the field. She practices estate planning and probate law from a wheelchair and performs extensive pro bono work for Legal Aid and Senior Law Service. Plymell has been a longtime champion of the American with Disabilities Act and access to justice efforts.
The law school faculty honored Associate Professor Carl Bjerre with the 2005 Orlando John Hollis Faculty Teaching Award. The annual award for inspired teaching is based on nominations from students, faculty, staff and alumni. It is named after the legendary taskmaster and grand teacher who spent 35 years as professor, dean and interim university president.
Bjerre teaches commercial law and contracts. He is a member of the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, which is responsible for formulating most of the nation’s commercial law. He also plays tenor sax and clarinet with the law school jazz band.
One student, who admittedly was not looking forward to a whole year of contracts, wrote that Bjerre was so excited by certain classic cases that he literally bounced up and down in front of the class! His love of legal language and joy in explaining concepts provide an understanding of the ‘why’ of the law, not just the ‘what.’
The graduating class selected Assistant Professor Joe Metcalfe to lead the procession as their commencement marshal. Metcalfe has taught criminal law and procedure at the UO since 2002. Before that, he worked for the U.S. Justice Department in the computer crime and intellectual property section.
Graduating law student Cheri Brooks, who has accepted a job in Philadelphia as a public defender, worked with Metcalfe to establish the Oregon Innocence Project. She said, Professor Metcalfe really cares about making us great lawyers out in the world. He teaches us the human side of law as well as the legal doctrine. As a person, he is funny and easy to talk to — but as a teacher, he always held us to the highest standards.
The Class of 2005 selected Martha Pellegrino as their speaker. Pellegrino is a Wayne Morse Fellow who interned with Oregon Senate Majority Leader Kate Brown. She said, I’m going to talk about the unique achievements of our class a class of doers. We raised the standards for leadership, service, and achievement and set the bar very high for future classes.
She intends to stay connected with the Oregon legislative process and may become a government or public affairs attorney after graduation.