UC Law SF Celebrates Commencement, Welcomes Adam Schiff as Keynote Speaker

U.S. Congressman Adam Schiff urged graduates to stay true to their values and support the constitution.

UC College of the Law San Francisco celebrated its 142nd commencement ceremony on May 18, awarding degrees to around 350 students at the Bill Graham Auditorium in San Francisco.

The mood was jubilant as a crowd of roaring friends and family members cheered on graduates as they walked across the stage in caps and gowns to receive their degrees.

Congressman Adam Schiff, who has represented California in the U.S. House of Representatives for 22 years, gave the keynote address and urged graduating law students to stay true to their values and support the constitution.

Schiff said, “When you’re trying to decide not only what is right but what is right for you and for others, ask, ‘Is it just? Have I shown mercy or kindness? Have I demonstrated humility?’ If the answer is ‘yes,’ you are more than officers of the court. You have lived up to your oath and more. You have become a vital part of our democracy.”

Chancellor & Dean David Faigman recognized students who provided pro bono services during law school and noted that 67 graduates provided more than 8,000 hours of free legal help, “We hope that the spirit of pro bono is a commitment all our graduates will continue to live up to throughout their professional lives.”

Valedictorian Abigail Shim, who will clerk for a judge at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals after graduation, talked about the importance of the law in resolving conflicts and preserving American democracy, “The law compensates the hurt. It brings justice for those wronged. It mediates friction in our relationships. It protects individual freedom. It has permitted us to successfully engage in the noble enterprise of self-government.”

She was joined by other speakers who were chosen by the graduating class: Devika Tadwalkar, an attorney from India who earned an LLM; John Akinwole, a Nigerian-born social justice advocate, member of LEOP, and co-president of the Black Law Students Association; and Elliot Brooks, a member of the Black Law Students Association who won numerous awards as a Moot Court Team member and student coach. All of the student speakers received thunderous applause and standing ovations.

“These past three years have given us so many tools to thrive in the world that awaits,” Brooks said. “We now have the ability to listen, to write brilliant briefs, to engage with clients with compassion, to ask questions, to dare to speak up, and to advocate for what is right.”

Simona Agnolucci ’06, president of the UC Law SF Board of Directors, addressed the students and welcomed them into the family of UC Law SF alumni, saying, “When you leave here today as a graduate of UC Law SF, you join a worldwide community of alumni making our mark in nearly every field of human endeavor.”

In his closing remarks, Professor Matt Coles told graduates not to get discouraged by the slow pace of progress in advancing civil rights and social justice, “If you take the long view, and if you hold on to that strength, decency, and kindness, trust me. You won’t get discouraged, and we’ll all be living in a better world for it.”

Schiff reminded graduates how important their contributions to the legal field are at this pivotal time in American history, “Graduates, America needs you as officers of the court to defend our democracy, to uphold the constitution and the rule of law, to speak the truth, and to give meaning to your oath.”