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On Friday, May 5, the University of Kentucky J. David Rosenberg College of Law held its commencement ceremony for the Class of 2023 at the Singletary Center for the Arts. UK Rosenberg Law Dean Mary J. Davis said the Class of 2023 “reinvigorated the law building with activity, intellectual curiosity, and excitement at the opportunity of being with one another” when they returned to the law building full-time after taking their first law school classes online due to the pandemic.

“They have forged ahead through the good times and the interesting times with good spirits and determination, and they have earned this day,” she said.

As the top-ranked student in the class, Cole S. Manion gave remarks on behalf of the students. Professor Cortney E. Lollar was selected by the graduating class to provide remarks on behalf of the faculty, and Kentucky Bar Association President Amy D. Cubbage spoke on behalf of the bar.

“Today, I know I’m proud, and I know I’m thankful – proud to be done with this chapter and on to the next, and thankful that I didn’t have to do it alone,” Manion said.

Lollar said the faculty worried about what law school would look like for the Class of 2023 because law school is meant to be a community-based, collaborative experience, and they were concerned the class would not develop camaraderie.

 “We worried that despite our best efforts, your ability to learn both the substance and skills that you needed to succeed as a lawyer would suffer, and I suspect, if you’re honest, a lot of you were worried, too,” Lollar told the class. “But we had nothing to worry about – nothing at all – because you were a step ahead of us. You have looked out for one another since the very beginning.”

The students cheered each other on, comforted each other, shared notes and outlines, and figured out how to transition from online to in-person classes. “You have shown that you already have everything you need to succeed,” Lollar said.

She offered the following advice to the graduates as they embark on the rest of their lives and careers: listen, show compassion, and speak up when you see injustice.

Cubbage, a 1997 graduate as well as president of the Kentucky Bar Association, congratulated the graduates on their achievements and provided some insight into the oath many of them will take after passing the Bar Exam.

“When we as attorneys take our oaths, we are committing ourselves to advancing and protecting our constitutions and our legal system, and that is a great honor – an honor that binds all practicing attorneys together as servants for the common good. I am so excited to look out at all of you today and welcome you as the newest members of our honorable profession,” Cubbage said.

Jennifer Bird-Pollan, associate dean of academic affairs and professor of law, called the graduates’ names as Dean Davis presented members of the class with certificates signifying attainment of the degree of Juris Doctor. Professor Christopher G. Bradley and Jonathan David Shaub were elected by the Class of 2023 to place doctoral hoods on each graduate.

In addition, several graduates received special awards and recognition. Fifteen graduates are in the running for nomination and election to the Order of the Coif.  The top 10 percent of the class will be inducted once all grades are final. Sixteen graduates were recognized with the Pro Bono Award for completing at least 50 hours of independent, law-related public service prior to graduation.

Finally, the faculty selected Michaela Rose Taylor of Elgin, Illinois, as the 2023 recipient of the Faculty Cup. The Faculty Cup recognizes a graduating student whose endeavors, both in and outside of the classroom, made the law school a more interesting place for faculty and students alike. “The Class of 2023’s Faculty Cup recipient is described by their nominators as a joy to have in class and as a constant advocate for the law school and their fellow students,” Davis said.

Taylor has been a leader in many student organizations as a law student and undergraduate at UK, and she has also been a leader in volunteering and service. 

Davis concluded the ceremony by congratulating the graduates once again and welcoming them to the profession. “These courageous, passionate, and resolute graduates of the UK Rosenberg College of Law are sure to have an important impact in their lives as lawyers, on their clients, their communities, the Commonwealth, and our society at large.”


Order of the Coif eligible:

Lee A. Barber;

Ryan Wagner Davis;

Taylor E. Ecleberry;

Natalie A. Foster;

Matthew Anthony Hayes;

Jackson B. Hurst-Sanders;

Cole S. Manion;

Charles Williamson Mathews;

Zachary Daniel Mills;

Abigail Noser;

William Pagan;

Sanders Hunt Platt;

Blake Allen Sims;

Lillie Stivers;

Travis L. Strickler

Pro Bono Award:

Harrison James Bethurum Chittenden;

Taylor Dale Clark;

Nicole Cossel;

Holly Ashton Couch;

Dillon R. Curtis;

Shantale D. Davis;

Jacob Robert Eads;

Leen Majdi Heresh;

Alexis Courtney Kent;

Corey LaRue;

Georgiana Keelie Ledford;

Marcus Cornelius Lee Jr.;

Anne Evans Leniz;

Aimee Marisa Shuck;

Zachary Robert Stacy;

Michaela Rose Taylor