When Bob Ames joined his first law firm in 1960, the San Diego County Bar association had just 300 members and he was able to buy his entire law library for $19.95.
Ames, the luminary San Diego lawyer and trustee of the Thomas Jefferson School of Law was awarded an honorary degree at the law school’s fall graduation on December 17.
More than 60 students were awarded juris doctor degrees and three students were awarded LL.M. (Master of Law) degrees at the Copley Symphony Hall ceremony.
“This is really the beginning of your legal education,” Ames told the graduates in his commencement address. “Someday you will deal with laws that didn’t exist when you were in law school and deal with problems you never dreamed of.”
That’s exactly the kind of “astronomical change” Ames has been part of in the legal profession during his illustrious career. Despite the difficult economic times, Ames says there will be opportunities for lawyers as the important issues of the day “will be dumped on your desk for resolution if you have the right answers.”
Ames, who was a founding member of Thomas Jefferson School of Law Board of Trustees, said that with the education the graduates received at TJSL, they will “be able to pass any bar exam in the country, including California’s, which is the most difficult. Keep the faith.”
Valedictorian Riccola Voigt, who graduated summa cum laude, made sure to thank not only her own parents for instilling in her the virtues of integrity and hard work, but all of the family members and friends who’ve supported them and came to watch them graduate.
"With a J.D. following each of our names after today, it is easy to forget the difficulties we overcame and the sacrifices we made," said Voigt. "However, we will not forget the people who made graduation from law school possible. In addition to student loans, we owe enormous debts of gratitude to all of you whose contributions have enabled each of us to be here today. Thank you to our professors and advisors for demanding excellence, guiding us, and inspiring us. Thank you to our families and friends. We know we haven’t been the most pleasant people to be around the last three years – thank you for putting up with us."
Many graduates said the experience was “surreal,” after three years of such hard work.
“Surreal, but I’m still smiling,” said graduate Natalie Ann Garcia.
“It seems like it’s never-ending while you’re embroiled in it,” said graduate Robert Leon Casey. “Then suddenly…you’re here!”
Courtney Darnell became nostalgic as she looked around the lobby at her fellow graduates and said, “I’m seeing three years of memories. I’ll never forget these people. Ever.”
Meantime, the ceremony’s special honoree, Trustee Robert Ames, is stepping down from the board in March. But he was a vital player on the leadership team whose vision and planning also have ensured the law school’s vibrant growth by dramatically increasing the size and credentials of the TJSL faculty, improving program offerings and helping secure membership for TJSL in the prestigious Association of American Law Schools in 2008.
Among Mr. Ames’ crowning achievements is helping bring about the new, vibrant state-of-the-art Thomas Jefferson School of Law campus that the school will occupy in January of 2011.
Congratulations to Mr. Ames and to all of TJSL’s December 2010 graduates!