The Honorable Roger L. Gregory, Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, will deliver the Commencement address at William & Mary Law School’s Diploma Ceremony on Sunday, May 12.
Degrees will be awarded to approximately 267 students in the J.D. and LL.M. programs. The ceremony is scheduled for 8:15 a.m. at the Martha Wren Briggs Amphitheater at Lake Matoaka. Seating will be limited to graduates and their guests. [Update, Friday, May 10: Note that due to the threat of rain this weekend, the Law School Diploma Ceremony is moving to Kaplan Arena on main campus, with the reception immediately following the ceremony to be held at the Law School as previously planned.]
Judge Gregory was selected by student members of the Class Speaker Committee, including Alyssa Kaiser, Eydsa La Paz, Matthew Butler, Corey Hall, Elizabeth Lester-Abdalla, Eric Lynch, Alex Maher, Dani Makia, Mac McClure and Victoria Pretlow.
“We are so excited to welcome Chief Judge Gregory as our graduation speaker,” said Alyssa Kaiser, President of the Student Bar Association. “Our committee felt it was important to invite someone who has not only shown excellence and leadership in the law, but also has an interesting and inspiring story to share with our class. Judge Gregory easily checked those boxes, and we cannot wait to see him on May 12th.”
A 1975 graduate (summa cum laude) of Virginia State University, Judge Gregory went on to earn his J.D. from the University of Michigan in 1978. After graduation, he joined Butzel, Long, Gust, Klein & Van Zile as the firm’s first African American attorney. Two years later, he joined Hunton & Williams LLP in Richmond, Va.
In December 2000, President Bill Clinton nominated Gregory to be the first African American judge on the Richmond-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, but the Senate refused to hold a confirmation hearing. In May 2001, President George W. Bush nominated him to the same position, and he was confirmed by the Senate and received commission in July of that year.
In 2014, Judge Gregory joined the majority opinion on Bostic v. Schaefer, which overturned Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage. He also wrote the court’s unanimous opinion on King v. Burwell, which upheld tax subsidies for health insurance purchased on federal exchanges under the Affordable Care Act.
Judge Gregory became the first African American Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in 2016.
Well known for his public service, Judge Gregory serves as trustee emeritus on the Board of Trustees at the University of Richmond and is a member of the Junior Board of Directors of the John Marshall Foundation, the American Bar Association, the National Bar Association, Old Dominion Bar Association (past president), and the State Bars of Michigan and Virginia.
During William & Mary Law School’s second African American Alumni Weekend in February 2018, Judge Gregory served as a keynote speaker. The event marked the 64th anniversary of the graduation of Edward Augustus Travis, B.C.L. ’54, the first African American to graduate from William & Mary Law School.
Thomas Jefferson founded William & Mary Law School in 1779 to train leaders for the new nation. Now in its third century, America's oldest law school continues its historic mission of educating citizen lawyers who are prepared both to lead and to serve.