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The Honorable Kim McLane Wardlaw - Commencement Speaker & Honorary Degree Recipient

April 30, 2024

Southwestern Law School Announces Commencement Speaker for the 109th Ceremony: The Honorable Kim McLane Wardlaw

Los Angeles, CA – Southwestern Law School proudly announces that The Honorable Kim McLane Wardlaw, the first Latina to serve on the U.S. federal appeals court, will deliver the commencement address at the Class of 2024 graduation. The ceremony will occur on Friday, May 17, 2024, at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. Judge Wardlaw will also receive an honorary degree for her significant contributions to judiciary and legal profession. 

"Judge Wardlaw’s groundbreaking role in the judiciary reflects our institution's legacy of nurturing trailblazers in the legal field. We are eager to hear advice to our graduates," stated Darby Dickerson, Southwestern’s President & Dean.  

Appointed to the Ninth Circuit by President Clinton in 1998 and unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Judge Wardlaw formerly served as a U.S. District Court Judge for the Central District of California. Her prior legal practice included a partnership at O'Melveny & Myers, LLP, where she specialized in complex litigation, intellectual property, and media defense law. Judge Wardlaw's civic engagement is extensive, including roles as president of the Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles and board member of the Association of Business Trial Lawyers, the UCLA Center for Communication Policy, and the YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles. She currently serves on the UCLA Law School Board of Advisors, and the boards of the Center Theatre Group and the Norton Simon Museum. 

Judge Wardlaw graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from UCLA with an A.B. in Communication Studies. She earned her J.D. from UCLA School of Law in 1979, where she was recognized as the Outstanding Graduate and received the Order of the Coif. Her dedication to judicial and community service has garnered her numerous accolades, including the Maynard Toll Award for Distinguished Public Service and the title of UCLA School of Law Alumni of the Year for Public and Community Service. 

Expressing her enthusiasm for the upcoming commencement, Judge Wardlaw remarked, "It is a great honor to speak at Southwestern Law School's commencement. My path in law has been deeply influenced by values that Southwestern champions: public service, diversity, and leadership. I am excited to share my story and encourage our future leaders to courageously advance justice and the rule of law in our society." 

For more details about Southwestern Law School’s 109th Commencement Ceremony, please visit swlaw.edu/commencement2024