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Graduating Class Praised for Spirit, Passion, Drive

May 24, 2010

St. Ignatius Church filled with family and friends May 22 to honor this year's graduating class at the University of San Francisco School of Law commencement ceremony.

The Class of 2010 includes 166 graduates who received Juris Doctor degrees, three graduates who received Juris Doctor and Master of Business Administratio degrees, and 16 graduates who received Master of Laws degrees.

Dean Jeffrey Brand praised the graduating class for their spirit, passion for justice, and dedication to the common good.

"We've witnessed your intelligence in the classroom, and your stamina and indestructible spirit in the face of market meltdowns, credit crunches, daunting debt, and bank failures," Brand said. "We've witnessed your passion for justice in our clinics, on death rows throughout the South, in the Tenderloin, in Cambodia's Killing Fields, and working with Haitian refugees in the Dominican Republic and Miami."

The law school bestowed an honorary degree upon Dale Minami, a partner at Minami Tamaki LLP. Minami has tried numerous civil rights cases involving Asian Pacific Americans and other minorities on a pro bono basis, including Korematsu v. United States. Working with three USF law graduates and other experts, Minami served as lead counsel in this case that overturned Fred Korematsu's 40-year-old conviction for his refusal to obey exclusion orders that sent Japanese Americans to internment camps during World War II.

Minami said that the willingness of his Korematsu team to change course "brought us to this monumental case."

"Life rarely unfolds in a straight-forward manner and as you change your dreams will change too in ways you never planned for," Minami said. "The ability to deviate from a linear path will help you live those dreams. Each of us never quite knew where we were going when we started our law careers."

Brand said that if Manami and his colleagues are powerful examples of what the law can do, the Class of 2010 is a reminder that a new generation of courageous, ethical lawyers are ready to take up the fight.

"Our honorees have demonstrated the simple truth that ordinary souls are capable of doing extraordinary things, and that an injustice, no matter how long it may fester, is worth fighting," Brand said. "Our graduates have demonstrated the energy, passion, and drive to follow precisely the same path."

During the commencement ceremony, graduating students Robin Bennett received the Academic Excellence Award and Christine Start received the Pursuit of Justice Award. In a moment of silence, graduates and guests honored law school student Erik Fitzpatrick, who died in a bicycle accident May 19.

Addressing his fellow graduates, student speaker Palomar Sanchez said that "we stand proud today and represent so many people with honor and dignity, ready to make the world better."

"To the graduates, for you all in front of me, my classmates, my colleagues, my friends—we are done," Sanchez said. "Right now, this is our moment."