SANTA CLARA, Calif., May 20, 2023 — Santa Clara University School of Law celebrated the 228 members of its Class of 2023 for successfully completing law school amid a historic global pandemic.
“During these past few challenging years, we all have learned the supreme importance of loving relationships,” said Santa Clara Law Dean Michael J. Kaufman in his welcoming remarks. “Your relationships have helped you to confront the serious challenges of a global pandemic, an awakening to racial injustice, violence here and abroad, and stark reminders of the fragility of our democracy and the rule of law. It is your relationships—your interpersonal connections—that have nourished you, kept you afloat, sustained you, and inspired you.”
“These relationships…are also vital to the construction of your professional knowledge, skills, and values,” added Kaufman. “Relationship-building skills such as active listening, perspective-taking, empathy, respect, civility, professionalism, self-care, and kindness are sometimes belittled as ‘soft’ skills. But at this law school, we know that there is nothing soft about them. They are critical to your professional success.”
“As graduates of this great Jesuit law school—this transformative learning community—you now know that there is no learning without love, no success without kindness, no accomplishment without accompaniment, no justice without mercy, no healing without hope, and no reason without faith,” said Kaufman. “Graduates, we have great faith in you. We know that, with the loving care of your families and your extended Santa Clara family, you will continue to build the future of justice for us all.”
SCU President Julie H. Sullivan congratulated the class and highlighted the importance of the Jesuit, Catholic context of a Santa Clara Law education. “This type of legal education has never been more needed in our world,” she said, especially because of the many ethical challenges today—which she said included artificial intelligence, misinformation, and other issues. She told the graduates that they are prepared to face these challenging questions “because of your strong ethical foundation and the fact that you are also people for others.”
This year’s commencement speaker was Tricia Montalvo Timm J.D. ‘96, who received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Santa Clara University during the ceremony. A general counsel, board director, venture investor, author, and a first-generation Latina, Montalvo Timm rose through the ranks of Silicon Valley, culminating in the sale of data analytics software company Looker to Google for $2.6 billion. She is one of the few Latinas to achieve all three of these career milestones: reaching the C-suite, joining the boardroom, and cracking the venture capital ceiling. She currently serves on the board of directors at Salsify.
The author of Embrace the Power of You: Owning Your Identity at Work (2023), she is an advocate for women and girls, and serves as a mentor, advisor and, more recently, venture investor in female-founded companies. The Silicon Valley Business Journal named Montalvo Timm a 2020 Women of Influence, honored her with a Latino Business Leadership Award, and named her a Diversity Champion in its Corporate Counsel Awards.
Montalvo Timm graduated cum laude from the University of California Santa Barbara and graduated cum laude from Santa Clara University School of Law. In 1993, while a law student, she was among those from the La Raza Law Students Association who helped form the East San Jose Community Law Center to help day laborers collect wages they were due. Since 2015, she has continued to support that project as an advisory board member of the now renamed Katharine & George Alexander Community Law Center. In addition, Montalvo Timm has also served Santa Clara Law as a mentor for the Tech Edge J.D. program since 2019 and for the Entrepreneurs’ Law Clinic since 2016.
In her remarks to the graduates, Montalvo Timm shared two key lessons learned during her long career. “Find your people,” she said. “As you venture out to begin your careers, don’t forget each other. Nurture these relationships as the years go on. Support one another. Keep in touch. These relationships are going to matter more than you realize.”
“Find your power,” Montalvo Timm added. “We are all different. We come from different races, ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations, economic backgrounds, learning styles, and lived experiences. Bring your whole self into the room, make more inclusive spaces for others, and, along the way, go ahead and break some more ceilings so that 30 years from now, we will be talking about your achievements and how the Class of 2023 made an impact.”
The 228 graduates included 59 percent women and 54 percent who identified as members of a minority community, highlighting Santa Clara Law’s ongoing commitment to being among the nation’s most diverse and inclusive law schools.
This year, 53 graduates earned certificates in various areas of high tech law, including four who earned Privacy Law Certificates, and 29 graduates were the third cohort to complete Santa Clara Law’s popular Tech Edge J.D. program, which combines legal, business, and technology education with hands-on skills development and individualized mentorship. Nineteen graduates earned certificates in public interest and social justice law, and three earned certificates in areas of international law. In addition, five graduates earned combined JD/MBA degrees, and nine earned master’s degrees in U.S. law for foreign lawyers.
The commencement weekend also featured a music-filled Friday evening liturgy in Mission Santa Clara de AsÍs with remarks by Dean Michael J. Kaufman, President Julie H. Sullivan, and Robert Scholla, S.J., who gave the homily. Also in attendance were Howard Charney MBA ’73 and J.D. ’77 and Lisa Kloppenberg, professor of law, dean emerita, and special assistant to the vice president for University Relations.
“All learning is grounded in and emerges from love,” Fr. Scholla said in his homily. “Class of 2023, as you graduate and undertake new labors and beginnings, I am confident that the care, community, and love which you have experienced in these years at Santa Clara University will transform your professional lives and labors, and that your future lawyering will be—no, must be—a blessing for the community and world beyond our campus.”
At the awards ceremony following the liturgy, which included remarks by John Bates J.D. ’74, the School of Law presented special awards to the following graduates:
- Swathi Rajan received the Mabie Award for the Outstanding Graduate, Santa Clara Law’s highest academic honor, which recognizes academic performance, scholarly activities, leadership, and service roles at the Law School and in the community. The award is made possible by the Mabie Family Foundation through the generosity of Ronald Malone, a 1971 alumnus of Santa Clara University School of Law and formerly a Trustee of the Mabie Family Foundation.
- This year, 10 graduates received the Dean’s Outstanding Student Leadership Award for exemplifying Santa Clara Law’s mission of leadership, ethics, professionalism, respect, and service on behalf of their classmates, their clients, and the community. Recipients were: Alyssa Aguilar, Payam Ahmadi, Wendie Beddingfield, Tessa Duxbury, Nallely Montes, Vincent Pham, Lanna Sanchez, Isabella Schrammel, Paige Stapleton, and Nima Masjedi Zadeh.
- Lanna Sanchez also received the John Bates Jr., Dispute Resolution Award, which is given in recognition of the student’s coursework, publications, performance, and service related to the field of dispute resolution.
- Ruonan Wang received the Art Gemmell Prize, which recognizes the student who wrote the best paper on International Arbitration/Conflict Resolution. Established by Santa Clara Law alum Ted Biagini ’62, J.D. ’64, the Award is named for a long-time adjunct professor who taught International Commercial Arbitration at Santa Clara Law.