Celebrating the Class of 2022—Old Traditions and New Elements

Posted on Categories Education & Law, Legal Education, Legal Profession, Marquette Law School, Public
Hon. Elizabeth B. Prelogar
       Hon. Elizabeth B. Prelogar

It was my privilege to be in the splendid courtroom of the Wisconsin Supreme Court yesterday (Monday, May 23) to move the admission of Marquette law graduates to the bar. They graduated this past weekend, so such admission was their privilege, by virtue of receiving our diploma, meeting the court’s curricular requirements, and satisfying its character and fitness standards. In looking for a prior such motion that I had made, I came upon the one from 2015, where I noted that it was the twelfth consecutive May that I had appeared before the court for this purpose. I seemed to expect to do this annually until I should no longer be dean. In fact, the “streak” soon ended, in 2016, when an injury prevented my appearance before the Court—and then of course, a few years later, there would be the pandemic. Even then, the Court, on paper in 2020 and in the Wisconsin Assembly chamber in 2021, went to great lengths to ensure the prompt admission of our graduates via the diploma privilege.

The 2022 end-of-year proceedings seemed more like old times, though with some new elements. We convened for our Hooding Ceremony this past Saturday evening in the elegant, historic Milwaukee Theatre, as for many years. Yet this year, it was also our Commencement Ceremony, as Marquette University President Michael R. Lovell had delegated to me the authority, on behalf of the Board of Trustees, to confer the J.D. degree on each of our graduating students. Hannah Chin, a graduate selected by her classmates, addressed the ca. 1,300 people in attendance, reminding us of all that our 2022 graduates have earned and gained throughout the past three difficult years. The commencement address was delivered by the federal government’s top lawyer before the U.S. Supreme Court: the Hon. Elizabeth B. Prelogar, solicitor general of the United States. Solicitor General Prelogar, in her first trip ever to Wisconsin, gave a substantial amount of wise counsel. Yet my own wisdom, in inviting her, you will permit me to say, seemed entirely confirmed by her unexpected but most welcome rousing endorsement of the “Oxford comma”—and her exhorting, if not quite enjoining, the graduates always to use it. Of course, Solicitor General Prelogar highlighted not just punctuation but also such (other) foundational topics as the need to put oneself in uncomfortable circumstances in order to grow professionally, the importance of being kind to those above and below oneself in any group, and the value of always carrying a notepad (see what I did there, including that last comma?). There was much to be learned from the evening’s guest addresses.

The completion of the program entitling one to a Marquette law degree is a substantial accomplishment, I always tell our graduates. This is so “in any era,” I said in my remarks this year. It did not seem necessary for me to engage in any larger discussion of the pandemic. Yet, truly, I extend particular kudos to the newest group of Marquette lawyers, and I express much gratitude to all involved in their education, graduation, and admission to the bar.

Author: Joseph D. Kearney

On July 1, 2003, Joseph D. Kearney became the ninth dean of Marquette University Law School. Dean Kearney has been a member of the Marquette faculty since 1997. Prior to coming to Marquette Law School, Dean Kearney practiced for six years at Sidley & Austin, Chicago's largest law firm. He served as well as a law clerk to the Honorable Antonin Scalia, Justice of the United States Supreme Court, and to the Honorable Diarmuid F. O'Scannlain of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Dean Kearney is an accomplished teacher, scholar, and lawyer. His teaching focuses on civil litigation, including courses in Civil Procedure and Advanced Civil Procedure. His scholarly articles have appeared in the Columbia Law Review, University of Chicago Law Review, University of Pennsylvania Law Review, Hastings Law Journal, and Marquette Law Review, among other journals. They variously focus on regulation of industry (particularly telecommunications), civil litigation, and judicial selection. His background as a practitioner is in appellate and telecommunications litigation, and he has argued cases before the Wisconsin and Illinois Supreme Courts and the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and has been the primary draftsman of winning briefs on the merits in the United States Supreme Court. Dean Kearney is an honors graduate of Yale College and Harvard Law School.

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