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Senior Day Sendoff

Hundreds pack Hill Auditorium for 2011 commencement

May 5, 2011
Contact: John Masson, 734.647.7352,

ANN ARBOR, Mich.---The Michigan Law family gathered at Hill Auditorium May 7 for Senior Day, the annual springtime celebration of the Law School's graduating class.

With faculty and honored guests lined up in full academic regalia on the stage, Dean Evan Caminker kicked off the ceremonies with brief opening remarks before yielding the floor to LLM candidate Cormac Kerins, a native of Ireland whose classmates chose him as their speaker. Kerins summed up his feelings by telling the graduates "I feel unstoppable. And so should each one of you."

The choice of featured speaker, 1984 Michigan Law grad and U.S. Senator Rob Portman, was controversial among some students. Some, upset about the Ohio Republican's voting record on gay rights issues, wore rainbow-colored pins and tassels to the ceremony. Between 40 and 50 graduates and some members of the audience silently stood and left the auditorium while Portman was being introduced; they returned to their seats just as silently after Portman was finished speaking.

After the ceremony, Caminker said he was impressed by the decorum displayed by the demonstrators, as well as by the grace with which Portman acknowledged the students' dissatisfaction. The senator met before the ceremony with 11 student representatives and shared a productive discussion about the issues.

Inside the auditorium, the senator gave the new graduates several pieces of advice as the fresh JDs, LLMs, and SJDs prepared to take on their responsibilities as lawyers, whether in public service or private practice.

"The American legal system is one of the crown jewels," Portman said. "And we are the custodians of the rule of law."

Portman also reminded students that the bonds they form in law school are among the tightest they'll ever know; as evidence he said he was one of five law students who rented a house on Packard during law school, and that four out of the five were getting together for a reunion in Ann Arbor later that very day.

The last speaker, Matthew Budow, was selected by his JD classmates. Budow advised a laughing crowd about the importance of three things in life: being able to laugh at yourself (he suggested that the preceding three years of schooling presented each graduate ample opportunity to do that); being able to laugh at others or, as he put it, "mock the ridiculous;" and--most importantly—being able to laugh with others.

Not too surprisingly, he added that the last item was the defining characteristic of his Michigan Law experience.

Senior Day in pictures is available in this slideshow.

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