USD School of Law Holds Inaugural Virtual Swearing-In Ceremony for February Bar Passers

Bar Swearing-In Ceremony

SAN DIEGO (June 24, 2020) – University of San Diego (USD) School of Law welcomed approximately 40 bar passers, family members, friends, faculty, staff, and administrators in a first-of-its kind virtual Bar Swearing-In Ceremony on Monday, June 15, 2020, at 5 p.m.

Program Bar Passers Program Slides

For as long as the legal profession has existed in the United States, judges have performed the Swearing-In Ceremony for new lawyers in-person. Rather than the current stay-at-home and social distancing orders in place due to COVID-19 hindering a new lawyer's entry into the Bar, the State Bar of California granted special permission for applicants to be sworn-in virtually.

February Bar Passers were given this unique opportunity to be sworn-in by the Honorable Lorna A. Alksne, ’92 (JD), Presiding Judge of the San Diego Superior Court, and Hon. Larry A. Burns, ‘79 (JD), Chief Judge, U.S. District Court, Southern District of California. Judge Alksne and Judge Burns are among an elite group of 83 alumni who have received USD School of Law’s Distinguished Alumni Award since its inception in 1977. View Alksne’s and Burns’ honoree videos.

Judge Alksne, Judge Burns, and Dean Stephen C. Ferruolo have a common connection with our February Bar Passers as they each sat for the February Bar Exam as well.  

The virtual ceremony was conducted via Zoom with Dean Stephen C. Ferruolo and Law Alumni Association Board of Directors’ President Megan L. Donohue, ’09 (JD), delivering welcoming remarks on behalf of the law school and the alumni association. Registered participants received a link to download a Zoom background of the Grace Courtroom to display during the ceremony and the event began with a USD campus flyover.

Shari Baurle Green, Associate Director of Alumni Relations, served as the program emcee and opened the program with, “In my time at USD School of Law, we've never had the luxury of being able to host our own Bar Swearing-In Ceremony. Tonight, we are given the opportunity to do just that. Thank you to everyone for joining us to celebrate the success of our incredible Bar Passers in this historic manner.”

Dean Ferruolo said to Bar Passers, “You know, it's seldom when you've been Dean for nine years that you get to do something for the first time and this is in fact the first time that I'm getting to talk to you before you get sworn it.  So that's really cool!”

“There's no question in my mind that when we emerged from this pandemic, the practice of law is going to be transformed by the experience of COVID-19 and by the experience that we're having doing these things remotely, stated Dean Ferruolo.

“There's a lot of work to be done right now and you need to exercise your new responsibilities,” Donohue implored.  “You have more power to do good than almost any other profession in this country.  So please always make sure that pro bono is a part of your practice and that you're working on matters that issues that matter to you.”

Donohue encouraged Bar Passers to stay connect to their USD classmates and be a vibrant part of the law alumni community, “Alumni will be your most important advocates as your career continues, they're going to open up opportunities for you that you really never knew about. And, they are going to support you in times when you need it.”

After administering the State Bar of California Oath, Alksne reminded Bar Passers that they are now guardians of the law and it is their responsibility to protect and uphold the law.

Judge Burns administered the Federal Oath for the Southern District of California and remarked, “By taking the Oath today, you've committed yourself to be good stewards of justice. Making the law work as it should in the real world requires common sense and it requires good judgment.” “Being good stewards of justice also means acting civilly and ethically, despite the occasional temptations and provocations, not to,” continued Judge Burns.

In Dean Ferruolo’s concluding remarks, he shared the positive news reported by law.com that USD School of Law holds the highest pass rate for the February 2020 Bar Exam at 43% in comparison to the lowest pass rate on record for California Bar Exam—26.8%.

Participants were asked ahead of time to have some glasses on hand to join together in raising their glasses with a virtual toast to congratulate and welcome USD School of Law's newest attorneys to the practice of law.

Dean Ferruolo toasted, “May you have long and wonderful careers and the great satisfaction that all of us on this call have had with our careers. Here's the best of you, your family and friends—celebrate and enjoy. Congratulations to our new professional colleagues. Here Here.” 

About the University of San Diego School of Law

Each year, USD educates approximately 800 Juris Doctor and graduate law students from throughout the United States and around the world.  The law school is best known for its offerings in the areas of business and corporate law, constitutional law, intellectual property, international and comparative law, public interest law and taxation.

USD School of Law is one of the 84 law schools elected to the Order of the Coif, a national honor society for law school graduates.  The law school’s faculty is a strong group of outstanding scholars and teachers with national and international reputations and currently ranks 36th nationally among U.S. law faculties in scholarly impact and 22nd nationally in past-year faculty downloads on the Social Sciences Research Network (SSRN). The school is accredited by the American Bar Association and is a member of the Association of American Law Schools. Founded in 1954, the law school is part of the University of San Diego, a private, independent, Roman Catholic university chartered in 1949.

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