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Law Commencement

11 a.m. Sunday, May 1 – Civic Center

Good morning.

Welcome everyone, and a special warm welcome to all of the friends and family members who are here today. I know what a vital role you have played in the success of your student, and I know how proud you must be today.

To our graduates, congratulations!

As an alumnus of the Florida State University College of Law, it’s a special honor for me to share this important occasion with you as we celebrate your graduation.

My FSU law degree has opened many doors for me over the years, and I know yours will do the same for you.

In fact, the value of my law degree has gone up as the college has gained increased national prominence in recent years. So, in addition to offering my congratulations on a job well done, I need to say thank you.

It’s your hard work and academic success that is making those of us who came before you look good.

I think you’ll agree you could not have done it without your outstanding professors and one of the best law deans in the nation — Dean Weidner. Today marks Don’s last commencement as dean after more than 20 years.

So this ceremony, while joyous, is a little bittersweet as we say farewell to a leader who has done so much for this law school.

Dean Weidner’s accomplishments are so numerous and significant that he was named one of “Nine Transformative Law Deans of the Last Decade.”

He certainly has transformed this law school. Under his leadership, FSU Law has:

  • risen to the top tier of U.S. law schools
  • been recognized as one of the country’s best for job placement
  • and become one of the nation’s 10 best for alumni giving

Dean Weidner has been an innovative leader, developing new programs to establish a pipeline to law school for underrepresented students, a new one-year juris master program and countless other programs.

He also has attracted some of the best legal minds in America to serve on the law school’s distinguished faculty.

With Dean Weidner at the helm, it’s easy to see why we now have one of the finest law schools in the country.

In fact, Business Insider ranked Florida State as the No. 1 law school in Florida and the 32nd best in the nation.

And we know that our students are better prepared than anyone to land the jobs they want after graduation. The American Bar Association says we lead the state in job placement.

It’s no wonder. From the success of the Black Law Students Association to the national competitions won by the Mock Trial Team, your skills and accomplishments are outstanding.

But what I am most proud of is the work that you are doing to serve society.

There are a lot of reasons why you may have decided to pursue a law degree — maybe you wanted to follow in the footsteps of a successful lawyer in the family, or maybe you were inspired after watching one too many episodes of “Law and Order” on Netflix, or maybe there are some of you out there who just really enjoy pulling all-nighters to read about civil procedure, torts and contracts.

But I think at heart, all lawyers want to make a difference in the world. I know you care deeply about justice, and you’ve shown that you care equally about giving back.

In fact, Class of 2016, I was impressed to learn that you have completed 10,229 hours of pro bono service!

You are about to be lawyers, but you are already leaders. As you begin your careers, please keep that fervor for helping others. Consider ways you can serve your communities, state and nation.

Again, congratulations! We are all very proud of you. We know you are capable of tremendous achievement, and I hope you will carry the spirit of the FSU College of Law with you in all your endeavors.

Best wishes to each of you for happiness, fulfillment and success!