Monday, May 18, 2020

Yale Law Commencement 2020 ­— Coming Together While Apart

In an online celebration on Monday, May 18, 2020, more than 200 graduates of Yale Law School were celebrated for the indelible mark the class of 2020 has left on the School and the world.

Out of necessity during the coronavirus pandemic, this year’s celebration was held online until more traditional Commencement ceremonies can be held at a later date.

"We will never forget the Class of 2020. You embody the excellence and decency we seek from all of our students.”
— Dean Gerken

The morning began with video remarks to all Yale graduates from University President Peter Salovey.

“These are no ordinary times," said Salovey. “The world needs each of you prepared to tackle whatever challenges come your way. I am confident, with eyes open and hearts full of compassion, you will take Yale’s mission of light and truth to neighbors near and far.”

Following President Salovey’s remarks, Dean Heather Gerken sent graduates a congratulatory message and announced the release of a tribute video celebrating the accomplishments of the class of 2020.

“Today we don’t just mark the achievements that undergird the conferral of those degrees, but marvel at the 229 eclectic, intelligent, and hardworking individuals who have brought so much energy and excitement into our classes, our clinics, and our community,” said Gerken in a message to graduates. “We will never forget the Class of 2020. You embody the excellence and decency we seek from all of our students, and you dealt with a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic with resilience, generosity, and grace. This community will always stand behind you, and we wish you joy today.


The tribute video to the graduates included photos from throughout their time at the Law School and messages from faculty, including Dean Gerken, Guido Calabresi ’58, Harold Hongju Koh, Stephen Carter ’79, Abbe R. Gluck ’00, Marisol Orihelua ’08, Monica Bell ’09, Cristina Rodríguez ’00, Nicholas Parrillo ’04, William Eskridge ’78, and Associate Dean Mike Thompson.

“They’re determined to make the world a better place,” Gluck said of the graduating class. “They’ve done it the whole time with this sense of optimism.”

“The class of ’20 will learn something about what really matters and how contact can be kept in the face of hardships, and made even deeper,” Calabresi said.

Following the video tribute, faculty also held Zoom office hours throughout Monday to celebrate with graduates and their families, and each graduate received a special note from a faculty member wishing them well.

In her remarks during the tribute video, Dean Gerken spoke about the impact the class of 2020 has left on the Law School and beyond.

“Look what you did while you were here,” she said. “You changed the world. You worked inside clinics that made an enormous difference in the lives of so many people. You changed our minds. You lobbied and pushed and made us become a better version of ourselves by reminding us of our best values.”

Two hundred and twenty-nine degree candidates were honored on Monday, including 204 J.D., 23 LL.M., 1 M.S.L, and 1 J.S.D.