The USF School of Law marked its centennial with a week-long series of events in February, ranging from a special session of the California Supreme Court to a black tie gala at San Francisco City Hall.
Hundreds of alumni, faculty, students, and community members attended the events, which together highlighted the law school’s 100-year history of distinguished legal education in San Francisco.
With hundreds of family, friends, faculty, and staff looking on, the graduates took the state court oath administered by California Court of Appeal Associate Justice Martin Jenkins ’80, and the U.S. district court oath administered by U.S. Magistrate Judge Maria Elena James ’78.
The Centennial Gala was held at San Francisco City Hall Feb. 7.
“I am cognizant that serendipity places me on this landing at this propitious moment in our history,” Dean Jeffrey Brand said at the Centennial Gala at City Hall on Feb. 7. “All that we are, and all that we celebrate, are the result of the contributions of so many. Tonight, as USF billboards proclaim, the law school of the university of the best city ever joyously celebrates its own storied first century.”
The week began with a full-day session of the California Supreme Court on Feb. 5 in McLaren Center on the USF campus, in which the court heard oral arguments in cases ranging from legal issues surrounding the state’s medical marijuana dispensaries to a death penalty appeal. The day began with a question and answer session with students and concluded with a reception with the justices, faculty, staff, and students.
Associate Justice Ming Chin, a 1964 graduate of USF and 1967 graduate of the law school, offered welcome remarks at the event, which he noted took place in a building where he once served as a resident advisor.
“I have many fond memories of my seven years here on the hilltop,” Chin said. “The Jesuits were outstanding teachers to me in every possible way. I’m deeply grateful to all of my professors here at USF for being such terrific role models and being such an important part of my life and my career.”
The week continued with the Centennial Gala that drew nearly 550 people to the historic City Hall rotunda. The evening featured First District Court of Appeal Associate Justice Maria Rivera ’74 as emcee and a conversation on legal education in the 21st century moderated by Brand and featuring Visiting Professor John J. Osborn Jr., author of The Paper Chase, and lawyer and bestselling author Scott Turow, author of many books including Presumed Innocent and One L.
The following day, dozens of the law school’s alumni judges gathered in Kendrick Hall to dedicate the new Judges Recognition Wall in the Moot Court Room. The wall features photographs of hundreds of USF School of Law graduates who have been elevated to the bench. Speakers included Associate Justice Chin and Illinois Supreme Court Justice Mary Jane Theis ’74.
“There is something really special about this law school and I knew it even as a young person. Teaching law here wasn’t just about a logic exercise or a historical analysis. At USF we learn the moral dimension of what it means to be a lawyer.” In addition, she said, her USF legal education gave her the practical lawyering skills to succeed. “My transition form law school to practice was seamless. I felt at home in the courtroom immediately. My entire legal career is a direct line from a moot courtroom at USF to the Supreme Court courtroom in the state of Illinois.”
The week came to a close with a community-wide day of service on Saturday, Feb. 9, in which students, faculty, staff, and alumni fanned out across the Bay Area to work on service projects with nonprofit organizations including Habitat for Humanity and Glide Memorial Church.