A group of eight University of Richmond law students have selected Judge Roger L. Gregory, the first African American to serve on the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, to be their commencement speaker May 5.
Gregory was appointed to a seat in the Fourth Circuit, which includes Virginia and four other states, by President Bill Clinton in 2000. President George W. Bush nominated Gregory again in 2001, making him the only judge to be appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals by presidents of different political parties.
The selection committee that chose Gregory, which is composed of third-year law students, picked him in part because it has been a tradition to pick a speaker in the legal field, typically someone who is a judge in Virginia, said Ashley Allen, head of the committee.
"But the real reason that we picked him was because of his ties to the school, and how involved he is with not only the law school, but the University of Richmond as a whole," she said.
Gregory is currently a member of the university's board of trustees and was awarded the T.C. Williams School of Law's William Green Award for Professional Excellence in 2010.
Allen said that Gregory attended a lot of law school functions and had spoken on a few occasions. She said that she had only met Gregory, but that several students had a personal relationship with him because they had done clerkships with him.
"He gives a lot of opportunities to our students because he employs them for clerkships during the school year, and he has recently also been employing some of our students post-grad as clerks for him full-time," she said.
Third-year law student Paul Kiehl said he had clerked with Gregory last semester and got to know him very well.
"He's a great guy, and a great person to work for, " Kiehl said.
He said that Gregory had given him a lot of personal attention as well as great feedback.
"He really made an effort to get to know me," Kiehl said. "He's just such an amazing person. He's smart; he knows so much about everything, but not only that, he really cares about people."
Kiehl said he thought Gregory would be a good commencement speaker because he was entertaining and engaging.
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The law school's commencement will be at 2 p.m. in the Robins Center.
Contact staff writer Avery Shackelford at email@example.com
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