Northwestern Law Celebrates the Class of 2015

May 20, 2015

Addressing more the more than 500 graduates and their guests who filled the historic Chicago Theatre, commencement keynote speaker Tina Tchen (JD ’84) credited Northwestern University School of Law with preparing her for her impressive legal career, taking her from the classrooms of Levy Mayer to the halls of the White House.

“Being a lawyer remains who I am; it’s how I think […] and Northwestern Law was where I learned what it means to be a lawyer,” she said at the May 15 ceremony.

Tchen spent 25 years at the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom—including 13 years as a partner—before joining the Obama administration as an assistant to President Barack Obama and chief of staff to First Lady Michelle Obama in 2011. She also serves as the executive director for the President’s Council on Women and Girls. At Skadden, she represented public agencies in state and federal class actions, including thee Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, the Illinois Department of Public Aid, and the Chicago Housing Authority. Tchen has received numerous award and honors, including the Leadership Award from the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois, the Women of Achievement award from the Anti-Defamation League, and Chicago Lawyer’s Person of the Year award. At Northwestern Law’s 2014 Alumni Awards luncheon, she was presented with the Dawn Clark Netsch Public Service Award.

Tchen was an appropriate choice to address the Class of 2015, a group with an impressive commitment to public service. In his remarks to open the ceremony, Northwestern Law Dean Daniel B. Rodriguez highlighted some of the class’s accomplishments: 220 students gave more than 19,000 hours of time to public service—with 50 students individually giving hundreds of hours—and 165 students participating in programs through the Bluhm Legal Clinic.

“I am convinced that you will take your education here—not simply your credential, but your education—and do great things in and for the world,” Rodriguez said.

In addition to Tchen and Rodriguez, Northwestern University President Morton Schapiro and student speakers Nicholas Roosevelt (JD ’15), Najd Almuhaitheef (LLM IHR ’15), and Bertram Hudson (MSL ’15) spoke to the crowd. Schapiro encouraged graduates to take a moment to be proud of their momentous achievement, and to reach out and thank someone who helped get them there.

During the ceremony, a number of faculty members and students received awards voted on by the students. Student Bar Association representatives Samuel Winters (JD ’15) and Jeffrey Glickman (JD ’15) presented the following faculty awards:

  • Judge Ruben Castillo - Outstanding Adjunct Professor
  • Michael Waterstone - Outstanding First-Year Course Professor
  • Nadav Shoked - Outstanding Professor of a Small Class
  • Philip Postlewaite - Outstanding LLM Tax Professor
  • Erin Delaney – Robert Childres Memorial Award for Teaching Excellence

The following student awards were presented by Professor Erin Delaney:

  • Beatrice Roger - Courage Award
  • Kimberly-Claire Seymour and Abigail Leinsdorf - Legal Profession Award
  • Andrew Beatty - Service Award
  • Jesse-Justin Cuevas - Leadership Award

Delaney also presented Nicholas Roosevelt with the Wigmore Key, the only award voted on by both students and faculty for the graduating student “who has done the most to help preserve the traditions of the law school."

Northwestern Law’s 2015 graduating class includes 266 candidates for JD degrees and 21 candidates for joint JD-MBA degrees, 120 candidates for LLM degrees, 35 candidates for the LLM degree and certificate in business administration from Kellogg, 37 candidates for LLM degrees in taxation, nine candidates for LLM degrees in international human rights, and 18 candidates for MSL degrees. Other degrees presented included those in the Executive LLM Programs in Seoul (17), Madrid (12), and Tel Aviv (34), 12 candidates for Master of Studies in Law, and one candidate each for a Master of Studies in International Human Rights and Doctor of Juridical Science. 

View photos from the ceremony