UND Law Class of 2016 - A tale of three schools Commencement tops off unique law school experience
Fresh-faced, first-year law students begin their legal education with many new expectations—learning the Black’s Law Dictionary, citations, outlines, meeting new faculty and friends, learning a new way to think and facing the first round of finals. One expectation they assume will be constant is the building they call home for the next three years.
For the Class of 2016, their law school home was anything but constant. On the first day of school in the fall 2015 semester, Professor Eric Johnson welcomed the newly minted third-year students to their “third law school.” What he meant by his comment was just that, the Class of 2016 each year had a different building they called home.
When they came to UND Law in the Fall of 2013, they were greeted in their new home, the original 1922 School of Law building. It was small and in much need of a facelift but it was none-the less home. They spent their first year in the historic building and more specifically in the Molbert Room for each and every class that year.
Shortly after put the finishing touches on the final exams of their first year of law school, the Class of 2016 was forced to pack up and move out of the 1922 building. Plans were underway to vacate the building to allow for a $14.4 million renovation and building addition that had been approved by the North Dakota State Legislature just a few months earlier.
Third-year student Matt Dearth, when addressing his class at their graduation banquet, described his classmates as a group of nomads. “For the entire second year, we wandered about the campus like nomads, from one class on the Western side of the campus to our next class across the Quad on the Eastern side of campus,” said Dearth. “For one year, faculty and staff offices were spread about in multiple buildings all across the campus, along with classrooms and student study areas.” In reality, the basement meeting rooms in the lower level of Swanson Residence Hall became the closest thing to home for the class.
In August of 2015, the class quickly realized the seemingly endless year of wandering campus was well worth it. The new law school was ready to open and included a 16,000 square foot addition that houses a new teaching courtroom, case study classroom and seminar room. The project also included a nearly complete renovation of existing law library and the original 1922 building. The students immediately took advantage of additional space for meetings and collaboration as well as the additional study space throughout the building.
“We are so excited to be back in the building to see all the new faces and to have the opportunity to rebuild the relationship that we lost last year when we were spread all over campus,” said third-year student Annique Lockard in an interview at the beginning of the 2015 school year.
The new spaces have created a new energy, a sense of pride and encourage students to work together to take advantage of the small nature of the UND School of Law. “Now you really own the law school, you like the fact of the way it looks aesthetically outside it looks really good, it is a good feeling to see everything improving,” said Robert Silva, third-year student, as he spoke of how the experience in the new facility is different. “It feels welcoming, and you feel happy about it.”
As the members of the Class of 2016 crossed the stage on May 7, to receive their graduate hoods it completed a journey unlike no other UND Law school graduating class. Three years together and three unique law school experiences.
The Commencement ceremony for the Class of 2016 was held on May 7, 2016 at the Chester Fritz Auditorium. Sixty-four candidates met the requirements for graduation. The ceremony was officiated by UND President Edward Schafer and UND School of Law Dean Kathryn R.L. Rand. The commencement address was given by Carla Pratt, Associate Justice, Supreme Court of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in Fort Yates, North Dakota.
Click for a Flickr photo gallery of the ceremony to view and download full resolution photos.