Brooklyn Law School observed its 115th commencement ceremony May 16 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, where 373 J.D. and 18 L.L.M. degrees were conferred. The Law School also has announced the names of graduates who have been awarded honors.
New York University President Emeritus John Sexton was the commencement speaker and honorary degree recipient. Sexton told the graduates they were now charged with setting the nation’s values. “In our society, the role of the lawyer, properly understood, is to be the conscience of the civil realm,” he said. “A kind of civil priest – for if lawyers don’t play that role in our society, no one will.”
Calling the law “our common enterprise,” Sexton said that lawyers have always played a special role in American society. “America is a society based on law and forged by lawyers,” he said. “Lawyers are the great arbiters, the principal means by which we’ve been able to knit together a nation out of a people whose chief characteristic has always been its diversity – and, Lord willing, will be even more so in the future.”
President and Dean Nicholas Allard urged graduates to add their own wisdom and experience to what they have learned at the Law School and go forth to “be the teacher” – in particular to advance civic education for all. “Civic education about law is the key to ensuring that any and all nations have the opportunity to thrive and flourish peacefully,” he said.
“Every graduate of Brooklyn Law School or any law school must do what she or he can to help America’s democracy successfully endure,” he said. “This includes teaching the public about the law.
“Law is the cornerstone of peace and tranquility, prosperity, and justice,” he said. “It is the foundation of our democratic republic.
Dean Allard spoke of the Law School’s historic legacy as a gateway to opportunity and a force for public service, and reminded graduates: “Your diploma from Brooklyn Law School comes with a fundamental obligation to use the power of law to make a positive difference – just as those who have gone before you in the last 115 years have done.”
Dean Allard also recognized Professors Michael Cahill and Baily Kuklin. Professor Cahill is leaving Brooklyn Law School after 13 years to become the first permanent co-dean of the Rutgers School of Law-Camden, effective July 1. Cahill joined Brooklyn Law School in 2003 and served as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs from 2010 to 2013 and as Vice Dean from 2013 to 2015. Allard praised him as a friend and colleague who played a significant role in designing the Law School’s innovative programs and initiatives, and championing access and affordability in legal education.
Professor Kuklin is retiring after 40 years at Brooklyn Law School. During Professor Kuklin’s four decades at the Law School, he taught contracts, torts, and jurisprudence to more than 10,000 students. “Professor Bailey Kuklin is that rare breed of brilliance, down to earth and accessible to students, caring, and passionate about his work,” Dean Allard said. Citing the numerous enthusiastic student evaluations of Professor Kuklin over the years, Dean Allard said his favorite described him as “Definitely one of those unusual people who is both staggeringly brilliant and a potentially fun guest at a dinner party.”
Stuart Subotnick '68, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, presided over the ceremony and led the conferring of degrees. Valedictorian Zachary A. Kaufman ‘16 and Anthony M. Beneduce ’16, who was elected the student speaker, addressed their fellow graduates at the ceremony.
The Law School began a new post-commencement tradition this year with a picnic for graduates and their families in the courtyard of the main campus building.
View Commencement ceremony video.
Commencement 2016 Honors and Prizes and Awards.