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May 2015

Your Values are Your Compass, California Chief Justice Tells 2015 SCU Law Graduates

SANTA CLARA, Calif., May 16, 2015 — Use your values as your compass and safeguard the well-being of others, Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye of the Supreme Court of California urged the 264 graduating students from Santa Clara University School of Law.

The law school’s commencement took place at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, May 16, in the University’s Mission Gardens.

Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye is the 28th chief justice of the State of California, which means she is the leader of the judicial branch of government for the state. Her responsibilities include serving as Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court, chair of the Judicial Council, and chair of the Commission on Judicial Appointments.

She is the first Filipina American and the second woman to serve in this role. At the time of her nomination in July 2010, she had served more than 20 years on California trial and appellate courts, including six years on the Court of Appeal, Third Appellate District, in Sacramento.

During her commencement address,she noted that the graduates are “inheriting three centuries of unfinished challenges, which are morphing into modern-day, contemporary challenges.” Among them: 19th century slavery, manifested today in human sex trafficking; 20th century civil rights battles,  manifested today in various issues and a “rapidly deteriorating middle class,” and the 21st century problems of social justice, privacy and equal rights, including the fact that “women are still not receiving equal pay for equal work.”

“You have approximately 50 privileged years to go hard, and bend the arc of justice,” she said.

She noted the dire need for legal aid for low-incomes people, including 90 percent of California litigants in housing and family law who  are self-represented, and those for whom there only 1,000 lawyers out of the state’s 165,000 dedicated to legal aid.

She said her advice for their next 50 years would  be to “bring a compass, and that the north on that compass be the rule of law. And the other points on that compass be your values.”

Cantil-Sakauye received an honorary Doctor of Law degree at the event.   She was honored earlier in the year by Santa Clara University School of Law for her ongoing efforts in advocating for the human and civil rights of minorities throughout California, including overseeing a pilot Domestic Violence Home Court, and as a board member of My Sister’s House, a domestic violence safe house for Asian and Pacific Islander women and children.

Born in Sacramento, Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Davis, graduating with honors after first attending Sacramento City College. She received her J.D. from UC Davis School of Law in 1984.

During the ceremony Saturday, University President Michael Engh, S.J., also spoke to the graduates, saying “you are the voices of justice in an increasingly complex and inequitable world,” and urging them to "continue to bring justice to the innocent, to serve those who would otherwise have no legal counsel, and speak truth when it challenges the status quo.”

Santa Clara Law’s 2015 graduating class comprised 47 percent women and 53 percent men.

Fifty-three percent of the graduates identified as Caucasian, with 23 percent identifying as Asian; 12 percent Hispanic; 4 percent multi-ethnic, and 2 percent African-American.

Eighty-one graduates received certificates in various areas of high-tech law; another 24 received certificates in public-interest and social-justice law; and 20 specialized in international law.

Among the awards for outstanding graduates given earlier in the graduation season, student Sarah Mirza received the Inez Mabie Award for the Outstanding Graduate based on academic performance, scholarly activities, leadership and service roles at the law school and in the community.  Catherine Nguyen received the Dean's Outstanding Student Leadership Award for exemplifying the school’s motto of “lawyers who lead” and serving other students, the school, and community.  Kambrie L. Keith was named the Pro Bono Student of the Year, for the graduate who has volunteered the most hours during the 2014-15 school year. 

About Santa Clara University School of Law
Santa Clara University School of Law, one of the nation’s most diverse law schools, is dedicated to educating lawyers who lead with a commitment to excellence, ethics, and social justice.  Santa Clara Law offers students an academically rigorous program including certificates in high tech law, international law, public interest and social justice law, and privacy law, as well as numerous graduate and joint degree options.  Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, Santa Clara Law is nationally distinguished for its faculty engagement, preparation for practice, and top-ranked programs in intellectual property.  For more information, see law.scu.edu.

Media Contact
Deborah Lohse  | SCU Media Relations | dlohse@scu.edu | 408-554-5121