On May 20, at Elon University School of Law’s Commencement Exercises, 110 members of the Class of 2012 received Juris Doctor degrees.
The Honorable James A. Wynn, Jr., Judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, delivered the Commencement Address.
Law school dean George R. Johnson, Jr. introduced Wynn, calling him, “one of the nation’s most outstanding jurists and judicial leaders.”
“Judge Wynn has been an incredible leader in the profession,” Johnson said, noting many of Wynn’s accomplishments as a state and federal judge. “His career, his service to our profession, our community, our country are examples in which we all can take great pride and to which we should all aspire.”
Wynn opened his remarks with a comment about the value of Elon Law’s leadership program.
“I applaud Elon University for affording these students with the rare opportunity and exposure to leadership principles in law school,” Wynn said. “That exposure will serve them well as lawyers.”
Wynn encouraged graduates to choose deliberately the client and community concerns they would take on as lawyers, based in part on the volume of work they could manage responsibly. He also recommended that they prioritize those concerns that most clearly represent the chance to contribute to the larger society.
“If you determine that you can adequately safeguard your clients interests, then you should take that on,” Wynn said, cautioning against cases advanced by some clients primarily to cause pain to others. “It is your obligation to draw the line at some point and decline. The goal of every lawyer is to effectively and ably provide legal services. Effective time management is key to your success as a lawyer.”
Wynn offered some specific advice to graduates in a presentation prior to formal Commencement ceremonies.
“The joy of being a lawyer remains as it has been throughout centuries,” Wynn said. “Think beyond where you are, do your job well, be honest, answer phone calls and do what you say you are going to do. Sleep well with the knowledge that you are doing everything you can do to be a good lawyer.”
Elon Law Professor Michael Rich presented the David Gergen Award for Leadership and Professionalism to Class of 2012 member Ben Snyder. Rich’s remarks detailing the contributions that Snyder made to the law school, the profession and the community are here.
A. Brennan Aberle was selected by his peers to deliver the student address. He said that Elon Law inspires community and leadership.
“I walked through the doors of the law school alone, but I walked out of them with every single one of you,” Aberle told his classmates. “You all have a positive view of what a lawyer does and all of you were willing to take a risk to do something great. I don’t doubt the moral convictions of my peers for one moment.”
Aberle told his fellow graduates that their collective power to make the world a better place was immeasurable.
“The evils of our times are the result of the failure to do the very things that make us human, and that is the ability to listen, to reason, to cooperate, to love and to forgive,” Aberle said. “I believe that we are all capable of being heroes. We have the chance to create a new culture, if only we are willing to remember that we have the power to do it. This task may seem insurmountable, but fortunately you are Phoenix.”
Andrea Davis, the 2011-2012 president of the Student Bar Association at Elon Law, offered a message of appreciation to all those who supported members of the Class of 2012 during their three years of law study, including family members, friends and the faculty and staff of the law school. In her remarks, she compared earning a law degree to running a marathon that required support from many.
“You have made our marathon possible,” Davis said. “You have kept us focused, moving forward, giving us the support we need to move past each mile marker along the way. We have had so much support, so much love, so much guidance from you all, that it has made it so much easier to keep on track, to keep running even when we were tired.”
Noel L. Allen ’69, a member of the Elon University Board of Trustees and the Elon University School of Law Board of Advisors, delivered welcoming remarks.
“The Trustees and the Board of Advisors commend you the students, the families, the faculty and the staff who have made this moment possible by really being there through the years of sacrifice and dedication,” Allen said. “Now all of you each are part of a dynamic, growing Elon family. I know that I am looking into the eyes of a bright future for Elon, for its law school and the legal profession. Congratulations to all of you.”
Steven D. House, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, presented the candidates for degrees.
Elon University President Leo M. Lambert conferred the degrees and presented the charge to the graduating class.
Johnson and Catherine Ross Dunham, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor of Law, led the hooding ceremony and awarding of diplomas.
The Reverend Phillip W. Smith, Associate Chaplain and Director of Religious Life, offered the Invocation to begin Commencement Exercises.
“May their search always be for what is right and what is true,” Smith said of the Class of 2012. “For all our sakes, may it be true.”
The names of all members of the Class of 2012 are listed in the program for Commencement Exercises.