Spring 2016 Hooding and Commencement Ceremony

May 19, 2016

May 2016 graduationOn May 13, 163 Texas A&M University School of Law students received their Juris Doctor degree at the Spring 2016 Hooding and Commencement ceremony held at the Omni Fort Worth Hotel.

This graduating class has the unique honor of being the first to enter the law school as Aggie law students. They started class four days after Texas A&M University acquired the school.

Prior to graduation, 17 graduates of the law school received red, white and blue graduation cords at the Military Veteran Cord Ceremony. The cords identify the active duty, national guard, reserve and veteran graduates and signify gratitude for their service and sacrifice. Learn more.

The keynote speaker for the ceremony was Regent Anthony G. Buzbee ’90, founder of the Buzbee Law Firm in Houston. Buzbee is the namesake of the Buzbee Leadership Learning Center at Texas A&M University and the law school’s Endowed Dean’s Chair.

He said Texas A&M purchased the law school in 2013 not to create more lawyers, but to create more “good lawyers with the Aggie core values" needed by the legal profession.

Grad-May2016-Buzbee2Regent Anthony G. Buzbee ’90 addresses the Texas A&M Law Class of 2016

“A law degree can really change and save lives,” he said. “[It] can be very powerful if you use it, which is what I hope you do.”

Buzbee advised the graduates about the importance of the choices they make, choosing to use a law degree to encourage or even force change, to ensure American justice is equally shared by all, to work hard and to be the most prepared. In choosing their future path, the graduates can make the courageous choice to stand up and be a leader for what is right and just.  

Marty Holmes ’87, Vice President of the Association of Former Students inducted the graduates into the Aggie Network of more than 650,000 members worldwide on behalf of the Association of Former Students. At the end of the ceremony, Holmes, a former Yell Leader, led the singing of "The Spirit of Aggieland."

Texas A&M University System Board of Regents remarks were delivered by Regent William “Bill” Mahomes ’69, who is managing partner of Mahomes Bolden PC in Dallas.

Mahomes reminded graduates that with this degree comes great responsibility that shouldn’t be taken lightly. As graduates with a professional degree from the Texas A&M University School of Law, they should continue their commitment to learning, leadership and dedication to the greater good.

“We’ll [Texas A&M] be watching you,” he said. “We challenge you to see this as both a personal accomplishment and a charge to carry on our proud legacy.”

Before the graduates were hooded, honorable recognitions were handed out.

  • Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Maxine Harrington recognized 14 students who have completed a focused curriculum in a specific area of law to earn a Concentration in business law, dispute resolution, estate planning, family law or intellectual property.

  • The Texas A&M Bar Exam Achievement Award was presented by Professor James McGrath, Director of Academic Support and Bar Services, to Kathleen Bausell as the Aggie Law graduate with the highest score on the February 2016 Texas state bar exam.

  • The Equal Justice Award was presented to Charles Lincoln as the graduate who has performed pro bono legal services in an extraordinary way and contributed the greatest number of hours of public service pro bono work with 674.5 hours, exemplifying the Aggie core value of selfless service. Lincoln has worked with Catholic Charities, the Texas 13th Court of Appeals, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Texas Attorney General’s Office and U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffery Manske of the Western District of Texas.

    The May graduating class contributed a total of 10,378.79 hours of pro bono legal services to the community, making a tremendous impact on the poor and underserved. The Equal Justice Program and pro bono service are cornerstones of the law school. Texas A&M School of Law is one of the few schools to require each student to complete a minimum of 30 pro bono hours in order to graduate. Assistant Dean Rosalind Jeffers, who oversees the program, presented the award.

  • The Scribes Award recipients inducted into the National Order of Scribes included Brett Miller, Brent Doré, Shawn Johnson, Mary Garner and Hannah Elsaadi, honoring their excellence in legal writing and demonstration of the highest levels of professionalism. Professor Neil Sobol, director of the Legal Analysis, Research, and Writing Program, presented the awards.

  • Jennifer Ellis, Advocacy Program Director, and Steve Hayes, representing the Appellate Section of the State Bar of Texas which established the advocacy award in 2016, presented the first-ever Award for Excellence in Appellate Advocacy to Jeremy Black. Black served on six moot court national competition teams, placing second twice. He also assisted in running the appellate advocacy section of the Board of Advocates student organization.

Elected student commencement speaker Erik Lisowski, a U.S. Army veteran, was grateful for the honor to speak to the class.

He said that while some family members may be waiting for these three years to turn into a paycheck or some graduates are preparing for the stress of paying back student loans, he encourages all to remember the irreplaceable experience of being a student at Texas A&M School of Law.

“Let’s make our Aggie Law diplomas more valuable than our student debt,” he said. 

In addition to receiving their degree, graduates were "hooded" by faculty members selected by the graduating class: Professor Stephen Alton , Professor James McGrath and Professor Neal Newman. The Texas A&M Law hoods, in the tradition of academic regalia, are lined with Aggie Maroon and are faced with purple to signify the Juris Doctor degree.

Dean and Anthony G. Buzbee Endowed Dean’s Chair Andrew Morriss concluded the ceremony by saying that he hopes the graduates take with them more than the memories of heart-stopping terror when being called on in 1L classes, the moment when the light bulb clicked on and they realized what the dormant commerce clause actually was in their con law class, or the thrill of stepping up to represent their first client in the clinic.

“I hope you will also take with you the concept of being a professional and of putting into action the A&M core values in your career,” he said. “Being a lawyer is a rewarding career because it is about helping people to overcome hardships, to realize dreams, and to cope with problems.”

Learn more about the accomplishments of the 2016 graduating class.

A video of the complete graduation ceremony is available here. View more photos in our Facebook album.


- Article by Jennifer Nassar, Communications Specialist, Texas A&M University School of Law