Mara Liasson to Maine Law grads: ‘Lawyers are problem solvers’
May 22, 2013
PORTLAND, Maine – The University of Maine School of Law on Saturday, May 18, awarded J.D. degrees to 96 students, and post-professional LL.M. degrees to two students. The law school also awarded more than two dozen merit awards to graduates. About 800 family members, friends, and invited guests attended the ceremony at Portland’s Merrill Auditorium.
Mara Liasson, an award-winning journalist for National Public Radio, was the keynote speaker. Liasson told graduates their education will serve them well whether they choose to practice law or apply their skills in a wide range of other careers.
Liasson noted the collaborative approach amongst students that sets Maine Law apart from many other law schools. She said that experience is an asset that will assist Maine Law graduates as they navigate a difficult job market.
“We are learning that collaboration is the number one skill for the future,” Liasson said. “I am here to tell you that you are well prepared to weather the storm and to prosper and along the way you will help create new legal jobs for a new economy. Above all, lawyers are problem solvers.”
The Honorable John A. Woodcock, Jr., Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maine, received the 2013 L. Kinvin Wroth Award. The award, named after former Law School Dean L. Kinvin Wroth, honors a Maine Law graduate who has achieved distinction in his or her career by contributing as a leader locally, nationally or globally, and who has helped advance his or her alma mater. Woodcock, a Bangor native, graduated from Maine Law in 1976. Judge Woodcock he was in private practice for many years in Bangor, arguing nearly 50 cases before the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. He was appointed as a federal Judge by President George W, Bush in 2003 and became Chief Judge for the District of Maine in 2009.
Martha McLean of Greenwood, Maine, was the student speaker. McLean spent many years working as a teacher, and she previously earned a master’s degree in education.
“One of the best things about teaching is feeling that you are making a difference in someone’s life. I realize now that I left one helping profession and joined another,” McLean said. “It doesn’t matter what cause you choose or what your political persuasion is. What matters is that you put this degree to good use.”
Ninety-six students were awarded J.D. degrees, among them:
Ben Birney of North Yarmouth, Maine, will head to Bangor to clerk for Judge John A. Woodcock Jr., (Maine Law '76), Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maine. A graduate of Williams College, Ben was managing editor of the Maine Law Review, and earned a graduation award for the best written work among his peers. Ben served as vice president of the Student Bar Association and vice president of the International Law Society. Outside of Maine Law, Ben is a part-time software developer.
Kasia Park of South Portland, Maine, will work for the Pierce Atwood law firm in Portland. Kasia has been a top student at Maine Law, with a heavy load of work and extensive volunteer activities. She has volunteered for the Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project, and was a student attorney at Maine Law’s Refugee and Human Rights Clinic. Before coming to law school, Kasia taught disadvantaged children in California through the AmeriCorps program, and as a student at the University of Southern Maine she spent a summer doing anthropological field work with the Cree Nation in Quebec.
Taylor Kilgore of Auburn, Maine, will join the firm of Boothby Perry, with offices in Turner and Norway, Maine. Taylor earned her bachelor’s degree in mental health and human services at the University of Maine at Augusta, and worked for Tri-County Mental Health Services. Taylor has excelled as a student attorney at Maine Law’s Cumberland Legal Aid Clinic, which provides free legal assistance to low-income Mainers on a variety of matters. Just this month, Taylor made her first appearance before Maine’s Supreme Judicial Court, representing a Clinic client. She was a Bernstein Fellow with the Maine District Court, a volunteer intern with the Justice Action Group, and the law student liaison to the state’s Katahdin Council Recognition Program.
Andrew Dickgiesser of Woodbridge, Conn., has been hired as an Immigration Service Officer by U.S. Immigration & Citizenship Services. He will work out of the Burlington, Vermont, office. Two other Maine Law graduates this year, Brian Lessels of Contoocook, N.H., and Nico Tarquinio of Southbridge, Mass., also have been hired by the Vermont office of USICS. Andrew, a graduate of the University of Vermont, was a 2012 Fellow in the Maine Association of Public Interest Law program, spent the summer working in New Delhi, India, for the South Asia Human Rights Documentation Center. Maine Law presented more than two dozen merit awards to graduates.