More than 2,000 people convened as UCLA School of Law hosted its 68th commencement ceremony on May 17, celebrating the class of 2019 with glitz, grandeur and inspiring speeches.
Family, friends, faculty, colleagues and classmates gathered on UCLA’s Dickson Court to toast 313 juris doctor (J.D.) graduates, 198 master of law (LL.M.) recipients and one person who earned a doctor of juridical science (S.J.D.) degree.
Bet Tzedek Legal Services president and CEO Jessie Kornberg, a 2007 graduate, delivered an impassioned commencement address, recalling the emotion from her own UCLA Law graduation day and encouraging members of the Class of 2019 to utilize their skills to help those in need.
“When you leave here today, I’m happy to tell you, you leave behind your last grade,” she said. “It doesn’t have to mean the end of learning, but it does mean the last time a professor defines what success will look like for you. … And it means that going forward, you set your own goalposts for victory.”
She added, “With your degree today, you have the power to turn the law into hope. … Help us rebuild faith that we are part of a profession and a system that is not just for us, but open and fair and available.”
The class of 2019’s J.D. graduates include roughly equal numbers of men and women, ranging in age from 23 to 42. Approximately 34 percent identify as Hispanic, African-American, Asian, Native American or Pacific Islander, and 18 percent are first-generation college students. About nine percent of the J.D. graduates already hold another advanced degree.
The LL.M. graduates, many of whom were already accomplished legal professionals before they came to UCLA Law to pursue their legal master’s degree, hail from 35 countries, are 61 percent female and range in age from 21 to 56. They include five Fulbright Scholars, four judges and a judge advocate general in the U.S. Marine Corps.