The University of Maryland School of Law celebrated the commencement of the Class of 2011 with a Hooding Ceremony held on May 20 in the Hippodrome Theatre, which was brimming with excitement, buzz and just a little angst. Among their peers, friends, family, the members of the Class of 2011 proudly walked across the Hippodrome stage as newly minted graduates of the nation’s third oldest law school. Any butterflies in their stomachs came from the knowledge that the hurdle of the bar exam is just around the corner.
The evening before commencement, the graduating class and their families and friends enjoyed a festive graduation party hosted by the law school. The students had a chance to socialize and share memories with their fellow classmates and law school faculty and staff.
At the commencement ceremony Dean Phoebe Haddon wished the graduates well and told them they will become leaders invested with a public purpose. She spoke of the notion of law as a public calling, noting that civic engagement has been at the heart of the law school since its earliest days.
Dean Haddon referenced our illustrious alumnus Francis King Carey (Class of 1880), for whom the law school will soon be named. She shared with students and guests the following excerpt from a graduation speech that Mr. Carey gave to students of the University of Maryland dental, medical and law schools in 1906, just two years after the great Baltimore fire, when he was head of a commission focused on rebuilding Baltimore:
“Whatever a man’s profession…he has never the right to forget that he owes certain duties of a co-operative character to the community in which he lives… [H]e cannot fail in the performance of those duties without putting in peril his own success. A community can move mountains if its members act together, while if they pull apart, their very numbers constitute a source of weakness.”
The keynote speaker for this year’s commencement was Brooksley Born, an attorney and former public official who served in the mid to late 1990s as chair of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), the federal agency that oversees the futures and commodity options markets. Her remarks to graduates reflected the both the public calling of law and the leadership that lawyers must demonstrate in their careers.
Ms. Born discussed her tenure on the CFTC, noting her leadership in lobbying both the legislative and executive branches of government to regulate and bring transparency to the derivatives market. Her strenuous warnings went unheeded, leading to the financial meltdown of 2008. She also noted the struggles and accomplishments she made as a female lawyer in a then male-dominated field. Her drive for equality, as Dean Haddon noted in introducing her, led Ms. Born to co-teach what is considered to have been the first “Women and the Law” course at Catholic University’s Columbus School of Law. It just so happens that she was hired to teach this class, which focused exclusively on prejudicial treatment of women under the laws of the United States, by the school’s then dean, Clinton Bamberger, who subsequently joined the University of Maryland law faculty.
After the Law School Hooding Ceremony, law graduates were invited to participate in the University-wide commencement service with their peers from the schools of medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, nursing, and social work, and the Graduate School. This event was held at 1st Mariner Arena, toward which students walked in an academic processional, carrying on a popular tradition from recent years.
University of Maryland President Jay Perman delivered the keynote address at this ceremony—his first opportunity to do so since assuming the presidency last July—speaking on the importance of civility in the professions.
This year’s commencement was special for the law school as longtime faculty member, Clinton Bamberger, professor emeritus, received an honorary doctor of laws degree. Prof. Bamberger came to the law school in the 1980s as director of the Clinical Program, which quickly became—and remains today—among the nation’s top-ranked clinical law programs. Prof. Bamberger has enjoyed a long and successful career in which he has served as an attorney in public and private practice, a law school dean, a public administrator, and the first director of the federal program to provide legal assistance for the poor.
Also honored at this commencement exercise was retiring law school professor Robert Keller, a tax policy expert who joined the University of Maryland law faculty in 1972. He was chosen to serve as the honorary student marshal and led all of the graduates into the arena.