As Seen By The Dean
GW Law Briefs

International Update
Faculty File

Alumni Events
Alumni Newsmakers


Contact Us
Alumni Association
Law Alumni Association
GW News Center

By Jamie L. Freedman

Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, JD ’52, addresses the graduates at the Law School Diploma Ceremony on May 18. Inouye shared some of his life experiences, including memories of his childhood as it related to anti-Japanese-American sentiments during World War II and reflections on what the Declaration of Independence means to him.

Abdul El-Tayef/

"A week ago, I spent four hours watching the first four chapters of HBO’s special documentary on John Adams. I did this to remind myself of the pain, anxiety, and sacrifices that our founding fathers had to endure for an idea. For this idea, they were willing to give up their lives, their families, and their fortunes…. I was mesmerized by the scene of Adams, Jefferson, and Franklin debating the text of the Declaration of Independence. This Declaration with its key sentence of 35 words has been an important part of my life since my early youth. I have found myself thinking of those 35 words in my mind during difficult moments of decision making: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.’" —Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, JD ’52

GW President Steven Knapp joined Dean Frederick M. Lawrence and Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, JD ’52, in addressing this year’s Law School graduates.

Abdul El-Tayef/

Rainy skies did not dampen the spirits of GW Law’s Class of 2008, who celebrated the formal conclusion of their legal education at a festive university-wide Commencement May 18 on the historic National Mall. Amidst the majestic backdrop of the U.S. Capitol and the Washington Monument, more than 600 Law School graduates—including 501 JD recipients, 128 master of laws recipients, and three graduating doctors of judicial science—joined the ranks of GW’s lifelong and worldwide community of alumni.

Civil rights leader Julian Bond, then-chairman of the NAACP, delivered the keynote address to the 25,000 GW graduates and their guests and received an honorary doctor of public service degree. Also receiving honorary degrees at the ceremony were Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, president emeritus of The George Washington University, and Charles T. Manatt, LLB ’62, chairman emeritus of the University’s Board of Trustees.

Abdul El-Tayef/

Following the celebration on the Mall, the GW Law graduating class, accompanied by proud family members and friends, headed to the Charles E. Smith Center for the Law School Diploma Ceremony, featuring keynote speaker Sen. Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii), JD ’52.

Each graduate was individually recognized at the event, which began with a processional led by faculty marshals Scott B. Pagel, Alfreda Robinson, JD ’78, and Joan E. Schaffner. After welcoming remarks by GW President Steven Knapp, Dean Frederick M. Lawrence paid tribute to the Law School’s Stockton Guard, comprising graduates from the class of 1958 and earlier. GW Professor Emeritus Ralph Clarke Nash Jr., JD ’57, served as grand marshal of the Stockton Guard.

The Class of 2008 voted Senior Assistant Dean for Student Affairs David M. Johnson the recipient of the Distinguished Staff Service Award.

Abdul El-Tayef/

As always, a highlight of the ceremony was the awarding of honors to outstanding faculty members, staff members, and graduates. Bryan King, JD ’08, outgoing Student Bar Association president, represented his classmates in presenting this year’s Distinguished Faculty Service Award to Ralph G. Steinhardt, Arthur Selwyn Miller Research Professor of Law. The 2008 Distinguished Adjunct Faculty Service Award went to Randall D. Eliason, Douglass Letter, and Hon. Randall R. Rader, JD ’78. David M. Johnson, senior assistant dean for student affairs, received the Law School’s Distinguished Staff Service Award.

Lawrence presented awards to three outstanding students. Jonathan C. Bond received the John Bell Larner Award for earning the highest cumulative grade point average in his class. The Anne Wells Branscomb Award went to Jonathan A. Direnfeld for attaining the highest cumulative average in the evening program. The graduating class voted Bridget Crawford the recipient of the Michael Dillon Cooley Memorial Award.

In his moving and insightful remarks, Inouye discussed what the Declaration of Independence means to him and how the document’s values of equality and “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” have been tested over time. The senator recounted the discrimination he and other Japanese-Americans suffered during World War II, applauded the progress the United States has made in the past half century, and urged the Class of 2008 to step forward to continue that progress through public service.

GW Law’s JD Class of 2008 voted professor Ralph G. Steinhardt the recipient of this year’s Distinguished Faculty Service Award.

Abdul El-Tayef/

“In our land of democracy, equality, and plenty, there are millions of citizens who cannot afford health care, and our economy is faltering for a growing number of Americans,” said Inouye, who received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree at the ceremony. “It will be you and your generation that will carry the flag through this time of challenge…Through you, we can make life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness much more of a reality.”

The third most senior member of the U.S. Senate, Inouye was the first Japanese-American elected to Congress. He has received widespread acclaim for his distinguished record as a legislative leader and as a highly decorated World War II combat veteran. During his eight consecutive terms on Capitol Hill, Inouye has been an instrumental figure in shaping U.S. defense policy and has championed the interests of the Hawaiian people.

The Stockton Guard: Grand marshall and convenor professor emeritus Ralph C. Nash, JD ’57; Jay Mitchell Brown, JD ’55; George Malhiot, JD ’57; R. Bruce Hughes, JD ’53; Senior Associate Dean Steven L. Schooner, LLM ’89.

Claire Duggan

Inouye currently serves as chairman of the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, part of the Committee on Appropriations, and chairs the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. In 1962, GW honored him with the Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award. The senator served as a member of the University’s Board of Trustees from 1982 to 1992.

In a letter to the Class of 2008, he shared that he missed his own GW Law Commencement in his zeal to return to Hawaii to begin studying for his bar examinations. “While I missed my graduation ceremony 56 years ago, I am honored to share in yours today,” he said. “And now, as you go forth, build on your achievements and the values you have gained at GW Law. All of you have much to contribute to making our nation and the world better places for future generations.”

Abdul El-Tayef/

During Commencement weekend, honored keynote speaker John Lewis Jr. (far left), JD ’90, joins Associate Dean for Trial Advocacy Alfreda Robinson (back row) and Black Law Student Association 2008 graduates at the 30th Annual Patricia Roberts Harris Banquet and Awards Ceremony May 16. Robinson was awarded the inaugural Patricia Roberts Harris Alumni Award and Nicole L. Alfred, JD ’08, was honored with the Patricia Roberts Harris Award at the event hosted by BLSA and the Black Law Alumni Association.

Claire Duggan

The John Bell Larner Award, given to the student with the highest cumulative grade average in the entire course of the Juris Doctor degree program, went to Jonathan Bond (second from left), pictured here with professors Brad Clark (left), Amanda Tyler, and Dean Lawrence.

Abdul El-Tayef/

Bridget Crawford (center), pictured here with professor Anne K. Oleson (left) and Dean Frederick M. Lawrence, is the recipient of this year’s Michael Dillon Cooley Memorial Award, voted on by the graduating class.

The Anne Wells Branscomb Award for the highest cumulative grade average in the evening division for the entire course of the degree went to Jonathan Direnfeld (right), pictured here with Dean Lawrence.

Abdul El-Tayef/