University of Georgia graduates wearing their mortarboards gather as they prepare for graduation activities in Athens. ( University of Georgia graduates wearing their mortarboards gather as they prepare for graduation activities in Athens. (

This year’s crop of commencement speakers at Georgia law schools includes several of the state’s best-known lawyer-politicos as well as the top lawyer at the American Cancer Society.

Georgia State University College of Law kicks off the commencement season on May 10 with a 1 p.m. ceremony at the GSU Sports Arena featuring Timothy Phillips, the American Cancer Society’s chief legal officer.

Phillips has received numerous honors for his community service, including the H. Sol Clark Award, the State Bar of Georgia’s highest pro bono honor.

Former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates is the keynoter for Mercer University School of Law at its May 11 graduation ceremony at 2:30 p.m. in Hawkins Arena.

Yates, who will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Mercer, is now a partner at King & Spalding focusing on independent and internal investigations after almost three decades at the Justice Department. She was the first woman to serve as the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Georgia prior to becoming deputy attorney general.

At Yates’ alma mater, the University of Georgia School of Law, the commencement speaker is former Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, a Mercer graduate himself. UGA Law’s ceremony will be at 10 a.m. on May 18 in Stegeman Coliseum.

Deal practiced law for more than 20 years before entering politics. He served as Georgia’s 82nd governor from 2011 to 2019, when he was succeeded by fellow Republican Brian Kemp. The Georgia native’s future plans include teaching and guest lecturing at Georgia universities, including UGA, according to an announcement from UGA Law.

Emory University School of Law is holding a diploma ceremony on May 12 before the universitywide commencement event on May 13. The university’s keynoter this year is civil rights icon Andrew Young.

The speaker for Emory’s May 9 class day, which kicks off the commencement weekend, is Stacey Abrams, who raised her profile nationally after her unsuccessful but hard-fought gubernatorial run against Kemp.

Abrams, a lawyer and a Democrat, is the country’s first African American woman to serve as a major party gubernatorial nominee. Last month, she became the first African American woman to deliver a response to a presidential State of the Union address. Abrams previously served 11 years in the Georgia House of Representatives, seven as House minority leader.

While Abrams has recently ruled out a U.S. Senate run, ending months of speculation, she has not ruled out a 2022 rematch against Kemp.

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School’s May 18 commencement ceremony, held at 1:30 p.m. at the Georgia World Congress Center, features U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath, D-Georgia, as the speaker. McBath became a gun control activist after her 17-year-old son, Jordan, was shot to death. In the wake of the Parkland, Florida, high school shootings, she decided to run for Congress and won Georgia’s 6th congressional district seat last November, defeating incumbent Karen Handel.