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August 25, 2009

Oregon Law Welcomes Class of 2012

Oregon Law recently welcomed 183 members of the Class of 2012 during the school’s Convocation Ceremony last week, marking the beginning of the new students’ law school journey.

Oregon Law’s Class of 2012 is comprised of students from 33 states and the District of Columbia, with nearly 100 colleges and universities represented.

Assistant Dean for Student Affairs Nicole Commissiong welcomed the standing room only crowd of students, faculty, and staff with an introduction of this year’s guest panel of speakers.

Speakers at the 2009 Convocation Ceremony included University of Oregon President Richard Lariviere; Dave Frohnmayer, University of Oregon president emeritus and Oregon Law faculty member; Margie Paris, dean of Oregon Law; Court of Appeals Judge David Schuman; Gerry Gados, president of the Oregon State Bar; Larry Seno, assistant dean and director of admissions; and Sims Ely, second-year student and vice-president of the Student Bar Association.

Below are excerpts from the speeches presented during the 2009 ceremony:

Richard Lariviere, president of the University of Oregon

At this time I can’t help but to think back to the beginning of my own post-graduate studies. I urge you to step back in these moments and remember that these people have identified you because they know you are going to succeed.

You were chosen on an individual basis because you have the ability, talent, and inclination to take advantage of one of the country’s great law schools. This is going to be great fun for you.

The law school reflects the character of this institution and this state — Embrace the community and embrace the character of this place.

Dave Frohnmayer, University of Oregon president emeritus and Oregon Law faculty member

I have never for one day or one hour regretted my study of the law, even during those times when other commitments and requirements caused me to step back from law for a time’

Never forget the liberal arts roots of the study of law and you will see that law engages our lives in so many ways. Law intersects with such areas as psychology, economics, history, philosophy, biology, film studies, and literature.

Are you competitive? I hope so. But I hope you are the most competitive with yourself.

Margie Paris, dean of Oregon Law

It is this heightened consciousness that I would like you to mark and hold on to for a while — this moment in time when your faculties are gathered and your energies focused and your resolve the greatest. This is the beautiful essence of beginnings.

I ask that you make two resolutions at this time of new beginning:

1. Resolve to bring your best self to the school, your classmates, your classes, and your community. Try to improve yourself. Work on those habits that you know are bad.

2. Resolve to listen and learn from each other. Don’t forget to pay careful attention to what your colleagues are saying. Each of you has a lot to learn from, and to teach, your colleagues.

Hon. David Schuman, Oregon Court of Appeals judge

My theme this morning, is that the reason people laugh at lawyer jokes is the same reason Dante’s audiences cheered the plight of the inhabitants of the Ninth Circle: In both instances they see what they consider to be the just desserts for those who have great power and have let it run amok.

I urge you to try to see your legal training’ as preparation for the profession of law in the larger sense, to see your access to the machinery of the system’ as a means to forge a public life worth living.

I urge you to enlarge your sphere of concern so that it includes not only argument on the service of private wealth, but debate over the nature of the public good.

Gerry Gados, president of the Oregon State Bar

The hallmark of a good lawyer is professionalism. The truly professional lawyers have the most affluent practices. The most successful lawyers I know are the most professional.

Remember to celebrate your diverse backgrounds; get to know your professors and lawyers practicing in your field of interest ’“ you never know who could turn into a wonderful mentor; take the opportunity to listen to guest speakers ’“ every interaction with a lawyer can help shape your future; and have fun.

Larry Seno, assistant dean and director of admissions

The most striking characteristic of this class is its long-standing commitment to public service and public interest work. Eighty-two percent of you have worked or volunteered in public interest positions. This is something for which we are very proud.

Some of you come to law school today having overcome tremendous odds. This class brings together a lot of folks with a lot of different backgrounds, but you all share the desire to be an attorney ’“ a calling to public service.

The folks around you are people you can learn from–this will only serve to make you a better lawyer.

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