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School of Law

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor to dedicate Elon University School of Law, deliver Fall Convocation address, Sept. 19

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor will dedicate the Elon University School of Law and deliver the address at Fall Convocation Tuesday, Sept. 19. O'Connor, who will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree from Elon at the convocation, retired Feb. 1 after a distinguished 24-year term on the nation's highest court. The dedication ceremonies will be held at the law school campus in downtown Greensboro, with the convocation held on the main university campus in Elon.

"We are honored that Justice O'Connor will participate in Fall Convocation and the dedication of the Elon University School of Law," said Elon President Leo M. Lambert. "She is truly a pioneer, blazing a trail for women in the legal profession. She has demonstrated a commitment to fairness and justice on the bench, using common sense and practicality in applying the law. Our students will benefit from her perspectives, honed by a lifetime of service to our country."

O'Connor's career has been shaped by her extensive experience in the legal profession. She has served as a partner in her own law firm, as well as a lawyer for local, state and federal governments. She has been a state trial and appellate court judge, a state legislator and a committed civic and political volunteer and leader.

O'Connor served on the Arizona Court of Appeals and as a superior court judge in Maricopa County, Ariz., before her nomination to the Supreme Court by President Ronald Reagan in 1981. She served as a state senator in the Arizona legislature from 1969 to 1975 and was the first woman to serve as majority leader of a state Senate. She also served as assistant attorney general of Arizona and in private law practice in Phoenix.

O'Connor's career began in 1952 as deputy county attorney in San Mateo County, Calif. She earned an undergraduate degree and law degree from Stanford University.

In retirement, O'Connor plans to stay busy. She is planning a conference on the future of the federal judiciary in September at Georgetown University. She will continue to maintain law chambers at the Supreme Court, where retired justices are provided space to write and study, and to serve at times with the lower federal courts.

The Elon University School of Law enrolled its inaugural class of 115 students in August, establishing an innovative model for legal education. The school will firmly ground students with outstanding legal knowledge and skills and then challenge them to take their education to the next level, focusing on civic engagement, leadership and a global perspective. Students will have access to learning opportunities in the area's leading law firms, federal and state courts, businesses, government agencies and nonprofit organizations. They will also interact regularly with preceptors - working attorneys and judges who serve as coaches and professional role models.

The school will be housed in the H. Michael Weaver Building at the corner of Friendly Avenue and Greene Street. The facility, formerly the Greensboro Central Public Library building, is undergoing a dramatic $6 million renovation designed by the renowned architectural firm of Shepley Bulfinch Richardson and Abbott. The 84,000-square-foot building includes a two-floor, multimillion-dollar law library, a large courtroom with related jury and meeting spaces, spacious high-tech classrooms and labs, and full wireless Internet access.