Star Jones, speaking at Houston Law’s May 11 commencement, earned her law degree in 1986 and worked as a New York prosecutor before becoming a television news legal correspondent and analyst, host of a court TV show, and co-host on “The View” for nine seasons. Now Jones is president of the Professional Diversity Network, which runs online networking sites for employers that want to hire women, minorities, veterans, LGBT and disabled job candidates. (Photo: Debby Wong/Shutterstock.com)
U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-California, will be the keynote speaker at Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law’s May 11 hooding ceremony. She was elected in 2016 to represent California’s 43rd congressional district, including part of Los Angeles, among other communities. She’s the ranking member of the House Committee on Financial Services, and part of the Democratic party’s congressional leadership. Prior to serving in the U.S. House of Representatives, Waters was in the California State Assembly for 14 years. (Photo: a katz/Shutterstock.com)
Michael Boone, co-founder of Haynes and Boone, will speak at the May 19 hooding ceremony for Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law where he earned his law degree in 1967. Haynes and Boone is a Am Law 200 firm with 547 lawyers in 2017 and $375 million in gross revenue in 2016. For more than 40 years, Boone has practiced mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance, securities transactions and more. Texas Lawyer named Boone one of the 25 greatest Texas lawyers of the past 25 years, and he was also Texas Lawyer’s go-to lawyer for corporate and business law in 2010.
Linda Addison, another well-known law firm leader, is speaking at the University of Texas School of Law’s May 19 Sunflower Ceremony, the name of its commencement. Addison earned her law degree from Texas in 1976 and went on to become Norton Rose Fulbright’s managing partner in the U.S. and chair of its U.S. management committee, both roles she no longer holds. She’s tried more than 50 cases to judgment as lead counsel, including patent and trademark infringement, trade secrets, breach of contract and other civil litigation.
The dean instrumental in Texas getting a 10th law school is speaking May 19 at the University of North Texas Dallas College of Law’s hooding ceremony. Founding Dean Royal Furgeson, who ushered the law school through a difficult process to attain provisional accreditation from the nation’s law school accrediting body, is retiring as dean at the end of June. Furgeson was a U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of Texas before he became dean in 2013. As a federal judge for over 18 years, he also served stints in Western District of Texas courts in El Paso, Midland and San Antonio. Before taking the bench, he practiced law for 24 years in El Paso.

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A successful businessman and 1982 graduate of Texas Tech University School of Law will return to his alma mater on May 12 to speak at a hooding ceremony. David Copeland is executive vice president and general counsel of SM Energy Company, a publicly traded independent energy company in Denver. Copeland began his legal career as a corporate and securities lawyer in private practice, but quickly jumped into the oil and gas industry. Through his career he’s overseen legal activities in more than $30 billion of energy and energy related transactions.
Another longtime businessman who earned his law degree in 1959 from St. Mary’s University School of Law is returning to his alma mater to speak at its May 19 commencement. Ron Herrmann served stints as executives for an American bowling ball manufacturing company and a retail liquor company, according to Prabook. He was named St. Mary’s distinguished law alumni in 1978. Other Texas law schools have their graduation ceremonies scheduled, but have not posted the keynote speakers. Spokespeople for those schools didn’t return a message seeking comment before deadline.

Star Jones, a longtime co-host of “The View” talk show, will give the commencement address at the University of Houston Law Center—her alma mater.

Although Jones is the only TV star speaking at a Texas law school commencement this year, that’s not to say she’s the only high-profile speaker. There’s also a U.S. congresswoman, cofounder of an AmLaw 200 firm, the man responsible for getting the tenth law school in Texas, and a successful oil and gas executive.

Ed note: Other Texas law schools have their graduation ceremonies scheduled but have not posted the keynote speakers. Spokespeople for those schools didn’t return a message seeking comment before deadline.


Angela Morris is a freelance journalist. Follow her on Twitter at @AmorrisReports