School of Law 2022 commencement.
Mark Brown/University of St. Thomas

School of Law Celebrates 2022 Commencement

The University of St. Thomas School of Law conferred degrees to 199 students on May 14, 2022. Among them were 164 students earning their J.D. – four of whom earned a joint degree – 22 earning an LL.M. in U.S. Law, and 12 earning a master’s or LL.M. degree in organizational ethics and compliance.

Professor Mark Osler, who was elected professor of the year by the Class of 2022, hooded the graduates. St. Thomas President Julie Sullivan conferred the degrees.

Dean Robert Vischer, in his opening remarks, reflected on the significant events of the past few years and their impact on this class.

“You’ve become experts on Zoom, projected your classroom voices enough to be heard through a mask and realized just how far six feet is when you're trying to have a casual hallway conversation,” he said, in reference to the COVID-19 pandemic. “You came to downtown Minneapolis not knowing that in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, our city would become the epicenter of a global reckoning with racial injustice. We are grateful for the many ways we have helped build this law school, shaped the nature of our community, advanced our mission and shown a degree of personality that has been welcome and energizing.”

Class achievements

The J.D. class performed more than 12,200 hours of public service work over the course of their legal education. St. Thomas Law requires each student to perform a minimum of 50 hours of community service on the belief that all lawyers have an obligation to share their skills and knowledge. Nineteen members of the class volunteered more than 100 hours over the course of their law school careers.

Fourteen members of the Class of 2022 were recognized with Mission Awards during law school. The annual awards honor law students, faculty, staff and alumni whose activities and work exemplify the school’s mission, vision and values.

Keynote speaker Scott Swanson

Retired St. Thomas School of Law Director of Academic Achievement Scott Swanson ’08 MA, ’21 LL.M. gave the keynote address at this year’s ceremony. (Mark Brown/University of St. Thomas)

Retired St. Thomas School of Law Director of Academic Achievement Scott Swanson ’08 MA, ’21 LL.M. gave the keynote address at this year’s ceremony. During his remarks, Swanson shared several pieces of advice with graduates, such as how important it is for lawyers to be good listeners.

“Everybody sort of thinks you come out of law school and you tell people what to do,” Swanson, who earned his J.D. from William Mitchell School of Law, said. “I’ve discovered one of the primary things that has allowed me to succeed at what I’ve done in the last 40 years as a lawyer, as a human being, as somebody who’s worked in academic support, is I learned to listen to people. We don’t do enough listening. Lawyers don’t do enough listening. Listening really is about connecting with people. It’s always struck me, if you can’t connect with people, you’re going to have a very hard time working with them.”

Class speaker Madeleine Haberman

This year’s elected student speaker was Madeleine Haberman. During law school, Haberman served as president of Student Government, secretary of the Public Service Board and treasurer of the Greater Minnesota Practice Cooperative.

In her remarks, Haberman spoke about attending law school during the pandemic, which started when she and her classmates were just first-year students.

“I think back to March 2020 and all that came after,” she said. “There were so many opportunities for us to isolate ourselves or decide that law school wasn’t worth it. But we made it here. We turned to each other to help us cope, and often complain, but also to celebrate one another.

“That resilience and determination is characteristic of this class,” Haberman continued. “If an unforeseen roadblock presents itself, you’re able to come up with a creative solution around it. And that perseverance is emblematic of the dedication that this class will bring with them to their future careers. That willingness to seek out or build a community in challenging circumstances speaks to how highly you value human connection.”