Celebrating the Class of 2024 — Forging Ahead with Strength and Kindness

Under sunny skies, Yale Law School Commencement honored 244 degree candidates in New Haven.

The Yale Law School community came together on Monday, May 20 to celebrate the members of the Class of 2024 with a Commencement ceremony in New Haven that included friends and loved ones who traveled from around the world to attend.

The day started with Yale University’s 323rd Commencement ceremony, where deans presented their candidates to Yale University President Peter Salovey and honorary degrees were conferred. Law School graduate candidates processed from Sterling Law Building to Beinecke Plaza, led by the Mattatuck Drum Band, before continuing to Old Campus.

WATCH: Yale Law School 2024 Commencement video 

Commencement Photos

View additional photos of Yale Law School's 2024 Commencement here.

The Mattatuck Drum Band members with fifes and drums

The Mattatuck Drum Band led the Law School’s Commencement procession.

Immediately following the University’s Commencement, Law School graduates and guests made their way to the Payne Whitney Gymnasium where a diploma ceremony was held in the Lanman Center.

Dean Heather K. Gerken delivered opening remarks, in which she recognized the School’s bicentennial and credited the Class of 2024 for reviving the Law School’s best traditions post-pandemic.

“The last few years haven’t been an easy time for anyone,” said Gerken. “Now more than ever, this profession needs people of compassion and decency — leaders who can build consensus as we try to solve the most painful problems of our time. The world is calling out for people like you. I hope you answer that call as best you can. Take the knowledge you have gained here, and leaven it with wisdom. Take the skills you have mastered here, and temper them with humility. Above all, embody the integrity and decency that are the hallmark of great scholars, great lawyers, and great human beings.”

The class makes its way past Sterling Memorial Library.

Anne Urowsky Professor of Law Douglas NeJaime served as this year’s faculty speaker. In his remarks, he emphasized the importance of struggle — both personal and professional — and encouraged graduates to use it as a tool for resolution.

“None of you — left, right, or center, whatever your values and principles — can look at today’s world and see in it the world you would create,” said NeJaime. “How does one bring about more of the world one wants? Just as it does not happen simply through civil discourse and respectful disagreement, it also does not happen simply through critique or defiance. It happens through struggle. Struggle that seeks not simply to gain power and use it to coerce but instead to move people.”

NeJaime poignantly concluded by explaining how engaging with one another’s shared humanity and shared struggle is an important way to create positive change.

“Struggle in service of something, for sure, is important, but it is also meaningful in the moment, as a practice that forges community. You seek to move someone by facing them, by living together as equals, not through exercising power and domination. In struggle, you form bonds.... Struggle is hard, but it is where you develop new forms of community, strengthen relationships, and connect to others. To produce the world you want to live in, you must struggle.”

students with the Law School flag on Beinecke Plaza

The Law School banner bearer and classmates pose for a group photo on Beinecke Plaza.

This year’s guest speaker was U.S. Attorney Damian Williams ’07, who implored graduates to lead with humanity in the face of adversity in order to bridge divides.

“We may not have seen times like this with our own eyes. But history has. And history teaches that in times of tension, in times of conflict, in times of deep division, it takes people of good faith — people with a stubborn commitment to humanity, empathy, and grace — to bring about peace and healing,” said Williams.

In his powerful closing statement, Williams invited the graduates to imagine what future generations of law students will say about them and the work they have achieved.

“What do you want [future generations] to say about your generation? About how you lived and how you led and how you practiced the law?” he asked. “Let them say that when faced with a world filled with bitter division, when the currents of change were fierce and unrelenting — and threatened to sweep away things that we cared about most — that your generation made the choice to be that bridge over troubled water. That your generation was the first to see the dawn through the darkness. And that your generation helped us heal.”

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams ’07 spoke to the graduates

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams ’07, guest speaker, urged the class to bridge divides.

He concluded, “Whether they say those things is ultimately up to you. Because that history has not been written. Those pages are blank. And, starting today, you hold the pen.”

A reception for Law School graduates and their invited guests convened in the Baker Hall Courtyard, capping off the day’s festivities.

This year’s Commencement honored 244 degree candidates, comprising 210 J.D., 27 LL.M., four J.S.D., and three M.S.L. candidates.