Wake Forest Law graduates citizen lawyers and legal professionals

Photo of graduates walking

(Winston-Salem, N.C., May 20, 2019) — The Wake Forest School of Law celebrated the Class of 2019 at the 45th annual Hooding Ceremony on Sunday, May 19, and the Wake Forest University Commencement ceremony on Monday, May 20, 2019.

The 186 graduates include 159 Juris Doctor (JD) degree candidates, 23 International Master of Laws in American Law Degree (LLM) candidates, 12 Master of Studies in Law (MSL) candidates, and three Scientiae Juridicae (SJD) candidates.

The Class of 2019 chose Professor Steve Virgil and Mary Kate Gladstone (JD ’19) as the faculty and student speakers to address the audience at hooding.

“It’s admitted that you step to the challenge and the challenge of time will be with you,” Virgil said. ”But let me remind you that today’s challenges will offer a variety of potential to do good. And the need for the professional that you are has never been greater. We are a professional peace corps, despite the jokes you inevitably hear about lawyers, that’s what we do. We help people create the peace that they can live with.”

Gladstone acknowledged the doubts that many law school students face when they begin their legal education, whether they are earning their JD, SJD, LLM, or MSL degrees.

“Today, we’re here to tell these voice in our heads that we’re on to them,” Gladstone said. ”Today is a testament to the fact that no matter how hard our doubts fight against us, we belong here with this graduating class. We belong at Wake Forest, we belong in this profession, and we belong in the careers that we will eventually make for ourselves.”

Dean Suzanne Reynolds (JD ’77) presided over the annual hooding ceremony, her last as dean of the School of Law. She discussed the climate that awaits these new legal professionals.

“The political discourse in this country asks questions straight from the land of the absurd. Questions like ‘Can we ever really call a fact a fact?’ and ‘Should we call a lie—a lie? If so, when is a lie, a lie?’ If you find yourself in a herd, asking those questions, first—leave the herd,” she urged the graduates.

“After you’ve left the herd, mind travel back to the Worrell Professional Center and remember what you learned here. You learned truths. And yes, there are such things as truths and even eternal truths like lawyers deal with the facts. To borrow from David Patrick Moynihan, ‘Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts,’” she said.

You can watch all the speeches at wfu.law/hooding.

The ceremony was followed by the Dean’s Hooding Reception at the Millennium Center in downtown Winston-Salem.

Diplomas were distributed in the Worrell Professional Center on Monday, May 21, following Commencement exercises on Hearn Plaza. At that reception, Geraldine Sumter who accepted the posthumous Doctor of Laws degree for her former partner, civil rights pioneer Julius Chambers, spoke. She urged the graduates to consider the South African concept of ubuntu. “That means I cannot be the best me I can be unless I allow you to be the best that you can be,” Sumter said. “I hope that you can embrace this notion of ubuntu as you go forward and find equal justice under the law.”


About Wake Forest University School of Law:

Wake Forest School of Law has committed to keeping legal education small and personable. Established in 1894, the law school has cultivated a rich and distinctive identity in legal education rooted in community, service, and the belief that these combined values are the foundation for law professionals. Located in Winston-Salem, N.C., Wake Forest law school offers these degrees: the Juris Doctor (JD) with dual and concurrent degree options, a Master of Laws (LL.M.), the Doctor of Juridical Science (SJD), and an online Master of Studies in Law (MSL). Learn more about Wake Forest School of Law at www.law.wfu.edu.