Stanford Law School Celebrates the 2024 Graduating Class

Stanford Law School Celebrates the 2024 Graduating Class 1

During their commencement ceremony on June 15, 2024, the 277 members of Stanford Law School’s (SLS) class of 2024 recognized their accomplishments and looked to the future. Enjoying the picture-perfect weather, more than 2,000 graduates and guests celebrated under a large tent in front of the law school’s Canfield Courtyard. Along with 193 JD students, the class included 71 LLM students, 9 JSMs, 3 JSDs and 1 MLS. 

Interim Dean Paul Brest
Interim Dean Paul Brest

Interim Dean Paul Brest welcomed the students and guests, noting that the support the graduating students received from parents, friends, loved ones, faculty members, and law school staff contributed to their success. “Graduates, you know you did not get here alone,” he said to enthusiastic applause. 

The ceremony began with an acknowledgment—given by Madi Burson, JD ’24, the 2023-24 co-president of the Native American Law Students Association (NALSA)—that Stanford University sits on the ancestral land of the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe.

Critical Thinking and Open Discourse

In his charge to the class, Brest focused on the critical thinking skills the graduating students honed during their time in law school. From COVID restrictions to debates over the boundaries of protest and free speech, the three years the students spent at SLS “were not always easy,” Brest said. But the collective experiences of the “resilient” class of 2024 helped foster “a fundamental commitment to open discourse,” and gave the students the skills necessary to challenge assumptions and view complex issues from multiple perspectives, he said.

“The ability to think critically, to ask pertinent questions, recognize and refine problems, identify arguments on all sides of an issue, search for and use relevant data, and arrive at the end of carefully reasoned judgment—this is the means of making effective use of information and knowledge, whether for practice or purely speculative purposes,” Brest said, quoting Derek Bok, former Harvard Law School Dean and Harvard University President.

Critical thinking skills are essential to the practice of law, Best added, “but perhaps even more importantly, they are essential for your roles as citizens and leaders of organizations and the communities you will serve.”

LLM and JD Students Offer Advice to the Class

Sara Alisa Hoban
Sara Alisa Hoban

The graduating class selected two of their fellow students to provide remarks: LLM student Rosy El Kefraoui and JD student Sara Alisa Hoban.

El Kefraoui, a lawyer from Lebanon, addressed her comments primarily to the “perfect” 2024 cohort of LLM students from “the four corners of the world” who she said changed her life. “This LLM year felt like a handful of sand,” she said. “The tighter we tried to grasp it, the faster it ran through our fingers.” 

“For me and my cohort, a lot of us first-generation university students, to leave our homes and jump into the unknown U.S. academic experience is quite daunting” she said. “And to see us today, looking fabulous and coming out on top, is impressive to say the least.”

In her address, Hoban called on her classmates to be “tenacious, tenderhearted, and committed  to hope” and to aspire to be courageous lawyers. “Courage is a muscle,” she said. “We develop courage only by exercising it. Exercising courage takes practice. Like anything else, it requires discipline. Being brave in seemingly small everyday moments is what helps build that muscle.”

Drawing on her law school clinic experience representing underserved populations, Hoban said courage is necessary to confront “the legal system’s capacity to devastate communities and to create and perpetuate inequities.” 

Annual Faculty, Staff and Student Awards

JD Class President Stefan Luis Suazo and Advanced Degree Class President Kavya Reddy Muduganti together presented three awards annually handed out during commencement.

Professor Evelyn Douek
Assistant Professor Evelyn Douek

A Hurlbut Teaching Award for Evelyn Douek

The graduating class selected Assistant Professor Evelyn Douek for the John Bingham Hurlbut Award for Excellence in Teaching, given to an SLS professor who “strives to make teaching an art.”  

“With her unparalleled passion for teaching and a natural sense of humor, she truly embodies the spirit of this award,” Muduganti said of Douek, who focuses her teaching and scholarship on free speech and the First Amendment. “She engages with her students and is interested in knowing their thoughts and opinions.”

In an address that often had the crowd laughing, Douek said “I love teaching free speech not because I think I have all the answers, but because I don’t.” 

She illuminated the contradictory advice often handed out at graduations, reminding the graduates that they should be true to their unique paths: “Maya Angelou tells us that ‘If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.’ That sounds so good, but then Angela Davis comes in and says that ‘I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.’  So do I tell you to change your attitude or the things? Steve Jobs counseled that we must ‘Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition, everything else is secondary.’ But Henry James said that there are three important things in human life. ‘The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.’ What do I do when the most courageous thing is not necessarily the kindest? Steve? Henry? What then?”

She also encouraged the graduates to embrace their inevitable failures. “When we fail, there is also the opportunity to turn that failure into not an embarrassing blot but a welcome part of our story.”

Staff and Student Awards

John Dalton, Associate Dean of Student Affairs
John Dalton, JD ’09, Associate Dean of Student Affairs

The 2024 Staff Appreciation Award went to John Dalton, JD ’09, associate dean of Student Affairs. The award is given to a staff person, administrator, or faculty member “who has played an integral role in the lives of the graduating students.”

“Dean Dalton has been a pillar of support and guidance for students navigating a range of personal, academic and health challenges,” Muduganti said. “With his warm and welcoming smile and an open door policy, Dean Dalton has helped many of us with a wide range of issues, including on how to deal with grades, exam preparation, and management of law school workload. He genuinely cares about his students and is invested in our success.”

Dean's Award winner Shafeen Pittal and JD Class President Stefan Luis Suazo
Dean’s Award winner Shafeen Pittal and JD Class President Stefan Luis Suazo

Shafeen Pittal received the 2024 Dean’s Award for Excellence in Service to Stanford Law School. The award recognizes a graduating student who has made “distinctive and exceptional contributions to legal education or the quality of student life at SLS.” Award recipients are chosen by their peers and the law school faculty and staff. Suazo called Pittal “a pillar of our community,” who has “tirelessly contributed to human rights education and public service,” including restarting the previously dormant Muslim Law Students Association. 


‘You Are Part of the Law School’s DNA’

George Triantis, JSD ’89, who assumed the deanship two days after the graduation ceremony, on June 17, closed the ceremony with a call on the class to treasure their friendships and to remain engaged in the alumni community. “You are part of the law school’s DNA,” he said. “Help and support your law school to make it an even better place for successors than it is for you today. We wish you much joy, success, and fulfillment. We look forward to watching the rise of your bright and shining stars and will be proud to know you as Stanford law graduates.”

George Triantis
Dean George Triantis

View the Class of 2024 Page