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School of Law Honors Graduates at 2014 Commencement Ceremony

The Washington and Lee University School of Law celebrated its 159th commencement on Saturday, May 10, awarding 126 juris doctor degrees.

The University also awarded one master of laws degree to Hussain Moin, a student from Afghanistan who attended W&L through a U.S. State Department initiative promoting justice reform in Afghanistan.

In addition, the University awarded an honorary degree to Lara Gass, a member of the Law Class of 2014 who died in a car accident earlier this year. The Presidential Degree, the first of its kind awarded by the University, was accepted by Lara’s brothers Chris and Jason.

Light to moderate rain fell during the commencement ceremony, which began with an official welcome from President Ken Ruscio and remarks from Dean Nora Demleitner, who recounted the many successes of the Law Class of 2014, both in the classroom and for the improvement of the law school community.

“You have left us with a thoughtful and constructive legacy on which I promise we will build in the months and years to come,” said Demleitner. The graduates were then awarded their degrees.

Related: Commencement Video | Photo Gallery

After the degrees were presented, Christopher Wolf, of the Law Class of 1980 and recipient of the law school’s 2010 Outstanding Alumnus Award, delivered this year’s commencement address. In his remarks, Wolf first urged the graduates to be ready for the professional opportunities that will present themselves as they can have a profound impact on a legal career.

“You may have some idea what your life as a lawyer will look like, but if you are lucky your career will evolve in ways you cannot imagine today at the starting line.”

A civil litigator turned internet data and privacy expert, Wolf used the path of his own career to illustrate this point. He also extolled the importance of pro bono work and applying legal skills to fight for a cause as critical to developing a rewarding career as a lawyer.

Wolf’s final comments might seem strange coming from one of the world’s top technology lawyers. He expressed concern about the overuse of technologies like email, texting and social media and how these tools may be eroding personal relationships in our society. While recognizing that technology is an imperative for today’s practicing lawyers, Wolf reminded the graduates that the legal profession is defined by personal service and social interaction.

“All of you have a head start in this. What makes W&L really special is its emphasis on personal relationships and the importance of community,” he said. “If you want to love your career as a lawyer, I urge you to take the culture of caring and of community and of personal relationships with you as leave Lexington. I hope this for you because it will make you happy personally and will help you thrive professionally.”

Afterwards, third-year class officers Doug Pittman and George Robertson presented Wolf with his very own walking stick, traditionally given to students at the awards ceremony preceding graduation. The walking stick, or cane, originated in the 1920’s as a way to distinguish third-year law students on campus. At that time, only two years of law school were required, and the walking stick served as a way to reward and honor those students who stayed for a third year.

Graduation festivities began Friday afternoon on the Lewis Hall lawn with the annual awards ceremony and presentation of walking sticks. The John W. Davis Prize for Law, awarded to the graduate with the highest cumulative grade point average, was awarded to Kyle Adam Dolinsky of Doylestown, PA.

Four students graduated summa cum laude, 17 graduated magna cum laude, and 17 graduated cum laude. 13 students were named to Order of the Coif, an honorary scholastic society that encourages excellence in legal education. A list of honors and awards appears below.

In addition to achievements in the classroom, the Class of 2014 distinguished itself with its pro bono service to the law and the community. In all, the class completed 9924 hours of service during this academic year, and 47 students were recognized during the awards ceremony for completing 100 hours or more of service.

The Student Bar Association Teacher of the Year award was also presented at the awards ceremony. This year’s recipient was Prof. Chris Seaman, who teaches Civil Procedure, Intellectual Property, and a special seminar on Election Law and Voting Rights.

Special honors at Friday’s awards ceremony went to the following students:

  • Kyle Adam Dolinsky was awarded the John W. Davis Prize for Law, given to the student with the highest cumulative grade point average.
  • Stephanie Leann Fox and Megan Marie Peterson shared in the Academic Progress Award for the most satisfactory scholastic progress in the final year.
  • Marcus Alexander Lasswell won the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association Award for effective trial advocacy.
  • Timothy Edward Davis won the Roy L. Steinheimer, Jr. Commercial Law Award for excellence in commercial law.
  • Maisie B. Osteen won the Calhoun Bond University Service Award for significant contributions to the University community.
  • David Alexander Hurst and Rebecca Jo Forston Reed shared in the Frederic L. Kirgis, Jr., International Law Award for excellence in international law.
  • Maisie B. Osteen won the National Association of Women Lawyers Award given to an outstanding woman law student.
  • Benjamin Sanders Willson won the Charles V. Laughlin Award for outstanding contributions to the moot court program.
  • Brian G. Buckmire and Dominik Jermaine Taylor shared in the Randall P. Bezanson Award for outstanding contributions to diversity in the life of the Law School community.
  • Jan May Fox won the Virginia Bar Family Law Section Award for excellence in the area of family law.
  • Roman Brusovankin won the American Bankruptcy Institute Medal for excellence in the study of bankruptcy law.
  • Kyle Adam Dolinsky and Lucas Russell White shared in the Barry Sullivan Constitutional Law Award for excellence in constitutional law.
  • Virginia Dawson Lane won the James W. H. Stewart Tax Law Award for excellence in tax law.
  • Marcus Alexander Lasswell won the Thomas Carl Damewood Evidence Award for excellence in the area of evidence.
  • Brian G. Buckmire won the A. H. McLeod-Ross Malone Advocacy Award for distinction in oral advocacy.
  • Katherine M. Coleman won the Student Bar Association President Award for services as the President of the Student Bar Association.
  • Laura Elizabeth Erdman, Meghan Elizabeth Flinn, Jan May Fox, David James Knoespel and Thomas Launceston Short won the ALI-CLE Scholarship & Leadership Awards for the student or students who best represent the combination of scholarship and leadership.
  • Heryka Rodriguez Knoespel won the Clinical Legal Education Association Award for excellence in clinical work.

Summa Cum Laude

Kyle Adam Dolinsky
Laura Elizabeth Erdman
Cara Elizabeth Regan
Patrick Emerson Sweeney

Magna Cum Laude

Julia Blair Barber
William Martin Bush
Avery Devin Catlin
Mitchell Lee Davis
Diana Yolanda Defino
Meghan Elizabeth Flinn
Jan May Fox
Ryan Matthew Hrobak
David Alexander Hurst
Maxwell Jacob Hyman
Keith Alexander Jaworski
Virginia Dawson Lane
Marcus Alexander Lasswell
Heather Michelle Lawson
Terence Michael Schroeder
Kristin E. Slawter
Lucas Russell White

Cum Laude

Adrienne Lea Adkins
Joseph Tyler Black
Roman Brusovankin
Gregory Allen Chakmakas
Dirk William Chilcote
Gregory Albert Crapanzano II
Timothy Edward Davis
Bryce Ellsworth Fitzgerald
Lauren Alyse Gregorcyk
Michael Joseph Keller
David James Knoespel
Douglas Edward Pittman
Rebecca Jo Fortson Reed
Chelsea Elizabeth Richmond
Thomas Launceston Short
Matthew Arthur Sorenson
Tyler Mark Williamson

Order of the Coif

Julia Blair Barber
Avery Devin Catlin
Mitchell Lee Davis
Kyle Adam Dolinsky
Laura Elizabeth Erdman
Meghan Elizabeth Flinn
Jan May Fox
Ryan Matthew Hrobak
Virginia Dawson Lane
Heather Michelle Lawson
Cara Elizabeth Regan
Patrick Emerson Sweeney
Lucas Russell White

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