June 12, 2023

Law School Celebrates 2023 Commencement

Federal Judge Adrienne Nelson and others inspired 2023 graduates, family and friends at the commencement event.

Over 200 graduates were honored and celebrated by friends, family, and members of the Lewis & Clark community at the 2023 Commencement held on May 20.

The Honorable Adrienne Nelson, Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Oregon, gave an inspiring commencement address. Beginning with a famous quote from Alexander Hamilton, “The first duty of society is justice,” Judge Nelson spoke of our collective responsibility to remember history, and from it, take accountability to achieve the rule of law. “What we do as lawyers shapes our justice system and our community’s experience with that system,” said Judge Nelson. “The defenders of the Constitution; the guardians of our liberty; the advocates of just causes, no matter how unpopular; the protectors of the powerless; the wise counselors of our society – that is the role of America’s lawyers. This is what you have trained to become.”

In her address, Judge Nelson emboldened graduates to take action to create a better world and future by facing the dark and painful parts of our history and embracing tools for change. “America has not experienced the greatness it could and should achieve – our true greatness is still out there waiting for an opportunity to come to fruition,” she said. “Our opportunity is now.”

This year, Professor Sandy Patrick was awarded the Leo Levenson Award for Excellence in Teaching, presented to her at the commencement ceremony by Harpreet Dhaliwal ’23. Voted on annually by the graduating class, the Leo Levenson Award honors a faculty member whose teaching has had a profound impact on graduates. 2023 marks Professor Patrick’s second time receiving this meaningful award.

Student speaker Lauren Matosziuk delivered a sincere address, replete with humor and heart. Poking fun at the unique challenges the Class of 2023 faced, including spending more than a third of law school on Zoom, Matsoziuk reminded graduates that while it is easy to become jaded given the state of the today, it is through graduates’ perseverance and commitment to justice that they will shape the future they wish to see. “For a moment, think back to your younger self and remember what drove you to be standing here,” she said. “Because today, in earning our law degrees, each of us gains a small tool to help bring that concept just a bit closer to reality.”

After a meaningful commencement, graduates gathered at the Legal Research Center with friends and family to rejoice in their achievement and enjoy a well-earned celebration.