“As you go forth to live your lives greatly within the law, it is vital that you do so with idealism,” Gregory Bowman , dean of the College of Law, told the graduates.
Vincent Cardi, who was selected Professor of the Year by the Class of 2019, delivered the commencement address. He explored five general characteristics of a good lawyer: show up for work; return phone calls; be honest with your clients; do the work; and get involved in the community.
Cardi also added four more traits of good lawyers: courage, teamwork, organizational skills, and independence.
“The best of what your family and friends have said and thought about you, is part of you,” he said. “Although the law school has played only a part in molding you into the person who will go out into the world to serve yourself, your family, your clients, and your community, we have been honored to play this part”.
Honorary Doctor of Law degrees were awarded to attorney Robert Fitzsimmons and the Honorable Irene Keeley.
Fitzsimmons is one of the top plaintiff’s lawyers in the country. One of his clients was the late Mike Webster of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first case against the NFL that established a link between head trauma caused by playing football and concussions.
“You are now a member of the greatest profession on earth,” Fitzsimmons told the graduating class. “As a lawyer, you will have incredible power that has the potential to change the lives of others, the conduct of business, or the ways of our governments.”
Keeley, a 1980 WVU Law graduate, is a Senior U.S. District Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia.
“Never forget, we who serve the law, whether as lawyers, judges, or teachers of the law, are bound together, called to a profession that has been, and must continue to be, a catalyst for honesty and integrity in public life,” Keeley told the graduates.
During the ceremony, the College presented its 2019 Justitia Officium Award to John W. Fisher II ‘67 and J. Franklin Long ‘77 in recognition of outstanding service and contributions to the legal profession.
Fisher served as the 15th dean of the College of Law from 1998 to 2008 and retired in 2014 after 43 years of service to the University and the legal profession. The Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia has recognized Fisher as “the state’s foremost authority in the field of property law.”
Long, a retired West Virginia attorney, is a past chairman of the National Litigation Group and the Association of Trial Lawyers of America Minority Caucus. A longtime supporter of access to higher education, Long has provided individual scholarships to more than 100 college students and he has funded a scholarship at the College of Law that supports minority recruitment.
Professor of the Year Vincent P. Cardi.
Honorary Doctor of Law degree recipient Robert Fitzsimmons.
Honorary Doctor of Law degree recipient Hon. Irene Keeley.
Justitia Officium Award winner John W. Fisher II with Dean Gregory Bowman.
Justitia Officium Award winner J. Franklin Long with Dean Gregory Bowman.
The WVU Law Class of 2019.