Acting Santa Clara University President, Lisa Kloppenberg, in concert with the new School of Law Dean, Michael Kaufman, and Board of Regents Chair, the Honorable Risë Jones Pichon ’73, JD ’76 presided over Law School Convocation on August 12th, welcoming an incoming class of 227 law students and marking the start of the upcoming academic year. This year’s ceremony was held in the Mission Gardens, an appropriate venue to mark the beginning of the law school journey, as three months earlier, Commencement exercises held in this same location marked the successful conclusion of that journey.

Dean Michael J. Kaufman addresses the incoming class at Santa Clara Law's convocation

Dean Michael J. Kaufman addresses the incoming class at Santa Clara Law’s 2021 convocation.

Following an opening prayer and reflection by Fr. Robert Scholla, S.J. and President Kloppenberg’s warm welcome, Dean Kaufman inspired the crowd as he spoke of the transformative nature of a law school education. He spoke eloquently and passionately about the five habits of mind and heart that these students will develop, and that will serve them well no matter where their legal education takes them. Those in attendance with law degrees, particularly those from Santa Clara Law, could attest to the many ways that they benefited from having developed 1) a disciplined mind, 2) a discerning mind, 3) a creative mind, 4) an ethical mind and 5) a respectful mind during their law school journey. When speaking about the ceremony, Kaufman noted that “We all felt so blessed to be able to join together with our new students as one Santa Clara Law community at this very special, moving, and powerful convocation. With a rejuvenated spirit, we now rededicate ourselves to our mission to care deeply for each other and to use our incredible legal education in the service of and with others.”

One of the evening’s most powerful visuals came as Judge Pichon administered the Oath of Professionalism as the incoming class raised their right hand and pledged to uphold the values of the school, the Bar, and the legal profession. It was an image that would make any Santa Clara Law graduate proud to be associated with an institution with such a distinctive mission and a profession with such a distinguished history.

Among the many different speakers to address the audience, one common theme emerged, the importance of maintaining care and concern for one another. It was a message that likely rings true for most Santa Clara Law students, staff and faculty, as the school considers its supportive and collegial culture among its distinctive strengths. More importantly, it was a timely message, offering reassurance to both anxious 1L’s on the eve of their first law school classes, and all members of the community as we gradually make our return to campus.

Following the formal portion of the program, incoming and current law students, along with law staff, faculty and invited guests enjoyed light refreshments as they socialized with one another. Some were beginning the process of forging lifelong friendships, while others were building upon existing ones. All attendees offered a view of the wonderful breadth and diversity of the Santa Clara Law community.

Dean Kaufman with law students at Santa Clara Law's 2021 convocation

Dean Kaufman with law students at Santa Clara Law’s 2021 convocation