UCI Law graduates its third class of students — the Class of 2014

May 10, 2014

Iris Yokoi

Members of the Class of 2014

UC Irvine School of Law celebrated its third commencement on May 10, 2014, on a beautiful spring morning in Aldrich Park.

Ninety-two candidates for Juris Doctor participated in the ceremony and were lauded by Dean Erwin Chemerinsky, UC Irvine Chancellor Michael V. Drake and California Supreme Court Justice Goodwin Liu, who delivered the commencement address.

In his remarks, Dean Chemerinsky honored the families who supported the Class of 2014 members through their three years of law school. He then noted the accomplishments of the Class of 2014. “You were the last class to enter before there were alums of the UCI Law School,” Dean Chemerinsky said. “You had the advantage of what students before you had done, but you created so much that's new. Individually and as a group, you were invariantly kind and considerate. I hope that each of you will find happiness—indeed, find joy—in the practice of law.”

Dean Chemerinsky noted that 91 percent of the class participated in pro bono activities on behalf of clients who couldn’t afford legal representation. Sixteen students wore gold stoles around their necks signifying the completion of at least 200 hours of pro bono work over three years, and 12 wore gold cords representing at least 120 hours.

Chancellor Drake commended the Class of 2014 for its pioneer spirit. “You created a new place for people to come, and set a standard for all those who follow you,” Drake said. “The level of focus that you've brought to this ... and the support you've shown for each other has been inspiring to us all," Drake said. “You even have amongst you one of my bosses, the [student] Regent,” he added, referring to Class of 2014 member Cinthia Flores.

With Drake leaving UC Irvine this summer to become president of Ohio State University, Dean Chemerinsky named the chancellor an honorary member of the Class of 2014, to honor Drake's stalwart support of the law school. Said Drake: “I will always be proud to be associated with the founding of the law school here at UC Irvine, and as of this moment going forward, I will be proud to be an honorary member of the Class of 2014.”

Leah Gasser-Ordaz was chosen by the Class of 2014 to deliver the student address. She highlighted the non-conforming yet kind-hearted spirit of her classmates. In order to help build the school, “we had to work together with each other and the faculty and staff, who were always so willing to hear us out and help us out when we most needed it,” she said.

She asked future students to maintain the tradition of non-tradition. “What makes UCI the best law school ... is that it's flexible, open to change and enjoying of mass participation. UCI Law's best culture and tradition is that it doesn't have any. Feel free to keep changing it, mold it to be better and never let UCI Law be stagnant."

Lisa Petak presented the Class of 2014’s gift: A three-year scholarship for an incoming student, plus funding for the future School of Law building.

Justice Liu delivered an inspiring commencement address sprinkled with plenty of humor. “One thing is for sure: No progress will be made unless people with great talent, education and leadership—that is, unless people like you— step up and take some risks,” he said.

He also suggested that students print a copy of their law school essays and keep it in the top drawer of their desks throughout their careers. “Let it be a reminder of the person you once were, and the person you want to be. And don't be afraid to take some risks, or else your hopes and dreams might always be just hopes and dreams.”