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UK Law Class of 2019 Celebrates Momentous Milestones, Awards 166 Graduates with Juris Doctor Degrees

On Friday, May 3, the University of Kentucky College of Law held its Commencement Ceremony to honor and celebrate the momentous milestones of the Class of 2019.  166 eager and remarkable law students walked across the stage in the Singletary Center for the Arts ready to claim their award for three years of hard work: A UK Law diploma.

“Today is a day of joy – for graduates and for all of us here today. We all share your sense of accomplishment, your sense of relief, and your sense of anticipation about the future,” said David A. Brennen, Dean at UK College of Law.

“This has been another remarkable year for our law school.  As a top ten Best Value Law School in the nation, we pride ourselves on providing a high quality, yet affordable, legal education that effectively prepares the best and the brightest legal minds in Kentucky, and in this region of the country, for professional careers,” said Dean Brennen.  “The Class of 2019 is a collection of students who have formed an extraordinary community that excels in the classroom and extends beyond it.”  “In the three years this class has been a part of the College of Law, these students have achieved extraordinary accomplishments.”

Dean Brennen touted several highlights of the Class of 2019’s accomplishments including law and business students working together in the VITA clinic, preparing over 400 tax returns for low-income taxpayers, collectively saving clients thousands of dollars in tax preparation fees; students enhanced their practical skills training through moot court and trial competitions in Kentucky, across the country and even across the world, such as the National Trial Competition in Austin, Texas, Willem C. Vis International Arbitration Moot in Vienna, Austria, and the Constance Baker Motley Mock Trial Competition in Chicago, Illinois.

A class member was the first-ever UK Law student to receive the “Law Student of the Year” award from Legal Aid of the Bluegrass.  Another member received the University’s Lyman T. Johnson 2018 Torch Bearer Award, which recognizes a student exemplifying the passion and courage exhibited by Mr. Johnson - who led racial desegregation efforts at UK.  The student-run law journals hosted legal symposia, including the Kentucky Law Journal’s Symposium on “States and Federal Copyright Law,” and the Kentucky Journal of Equine, Agriculture, and Natural Resources Law’s Annual Symposium.  Additionally, members of the graduating Class of 2019 taught real-life lessons in law and government to high school students through StreetLaw; provided Pro Bono legal services during Spring Break in underserved areas of Eastern Kentucky; promoted a healthier law school community through the UK Law Wellness Initiative and established the College’s first-ever Mental Health Awareness Day; and partnered with a local non-profit to bring puppies eligible for adoption to the law school to help students relax before finals.

“Through all of these activities, the Class of 2019 demonstrated an outward focus that will continue to serve them as they begin their legal careers,” said Dean Brennen.

Jacob Bartlett, as the highest-ranked student of the class, gave the greetings for the graduates.

“Even though today is a great accomplishment for each of us individually and we should be proud of ourselves beyond measure, we should also reflect and think how our family, friends, and faculty helped us accomplish our goals these past three years,” said Bartlett.  “I hope we can all appreciate that we would not be here tonight without those friends next to us, our parents and siblings behind us, and these professors and faculty members in front of us.”

Jennifer Yue Barber, a partner at Frost Brown Todd, spoke on behalf of the practicing bar.

Rutheford “Biff” Campbell, William T. Lafferty Professor of Law, was selected by the graduating students to deliver remarks on behalf of the College of Law faculty.

The faculty selected Jamila Carter as the 2019 Faculty Cup Recipient, and Dean Brennen presented her with an engraved silver julep cup during the presentation of awards. The Faculty Cup recognizes a graduating student whose endeavors, both in and out of the classroom, made the law school a more interesting place in which to teach and a more pleasant place for faculty and students alike.

Dean Brennen recognized those students in the running, based on grade point averages through the fall 2018 semester, for nomination and election to the Order of the Coif. When grades are submitted for the spring 2019 semester, the faculty will select the students from the actual top 10% to the Order. The eligible students recognized were Jacob Bartlett, Jamila Carter, Abigail Clark, Justin Cloyd, Ashley Daily, Jeremy Faulk, Sarah Gabhart, Tyler Gilbert, Michael Hooper, Christopher Jacovitch, Cody King, Elizabeth Lampert, Timothy Lovett, Katherine Monin, Roger Morris, Jr., Craig Simonds, and Lucero Tennis.

He also acknowledged students who received the Pro Bono Award by completing at least 50 hours of independent law-related public service prior to graduation: Lauren Beahl, Keyana Boka, Whitney Browning, Cailyn Butler, Lauren Cobo, Carlin Conway, Alexis Denniston, Mackenzie DeSpain, John Evans, Julie J. Greenlee, Paula Martinez, Aubrey McGuire, Tyler Morris, Brook Mullins, Claire Profilet, Melanie Ramsey, Reagan Reed, Christian Rice, Kyle A. Ruschell, Amy Stutler, and Whitney Williams.

Dean Brennen then presented members of the graduating class with certificates signifying attainment of the degree of Juris Doctor.

Stephen Milner, Law Alumni Association President, wrapped up the ceremony by welcoming the new graduates to the legal profession.

“It’s the people that make UK the special place it is. Your fellow graduates are knowledgeable and dedicated colleagues, mentors, and leaders who deeply value the friendships and professional relationships they nurtured at the College of Law.”

Congratulations Class of 2019, and welcome new alumni to the UK College of Law.

All Rise!