“Whether you realize it or not, your time here has trained you to be champions of the rule of law.”

– Justice Judy Cates, JD ’77

Members of the Class of 2017 who finished in the top 15 percent of the class were honored at a special Academic Excellence Reception on May 18 in the Bryan Cave Moot Courtroom. The reception also featured Justice Judy Cates, JD ’77, as the Honorary Order of the Coif Initiate.

“Whether you realize it or not, your time here has trained you to be champions of the rule of law,” Cates told her fellow honorees. “Whatever path each of you chooses, be proud of your school that for 150 years has made sure you get it right.”

Cates has served on the Illinois Court of Appeals for the Fifth District since 2012. She was the first woman to serve as President of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association and was named one of the Top 50 Women lawyers in the State of Illinois. Before joining the Appellate Court, Cates served as an Assistant State’s Attorney for St. Clair County, Illinois, then entered private practice, concentrating in complex litigation cases, such as personal injury, class actions, mass actions, sexual harassment, and corporate disputes. She created the Complex Litigation course at WashULaw and taught as an adjunct professor until 2013.

Dean Nancy Staudt, the Howard & Caroline Cayne Professor of Law, congratulated the students for spending “an extraordinary amount of time and energy building toward excellence. I know that all of you have been on a relentless march to excellence, and I know you will continue to do so.”

Vice Dean Gerrit De Geest, the Charles F. Nagel Professor of International and Comparative Law, noted that while the students’ achievement required great individual effort, “we know that without the support of family and friends, this would not be possible.”

Staudt and De Geest presented certificates to the following students:

Daniel Aldrich, Lauren Benjamin, Tyler Blake, Victoria Bliss, Marla Borkson, Natasha Faulconer, Kevin Flannery, Jacob Franchek, Charles Frost, Daniel Garcia, Brian Gee, Nicholas Goldin, Thomas Horscroft, David Human, Brianne Illich, Nusra Ismail, Karen Klass, Jonathan Kuhn, Harrison Kuntz, Trevor LaBarge, Meredith McCay, Elizabeth Noonan-Pomada, Sean Pluta, Erin Putnam, Lydia Raw, Elliot Reaven, Sarah Rockefeller, Marisa Rouse, Kayla Ruben, Jae Hyung Ryu, Munir Saadi, Kathryn Scott, Elizabeth Sinclair, Caroline Spore, Edward Terrell, Zachary Thompson, Katherine Vaky, Christopher Williams, Patrick Wolff, and Hancen Yu.