April 30, 2019

Detroit Mercy Law will celebrate the graduating class of 2019 at the Commencement Ceremony on Friday, May 10 at 5 p.m. in Calihan Hall on the McNichols Campus.

The commencement speaker this year is Joseph G. Vernon '05, principal and resident director of Miller, Canfield, Paddock, & Stone PLC’s downtown Detroit headquarters. He is an experienced business lawyer and commercial litigator, specializing in complex commercial litigation and sports law.

In his 13 years at Miller Canfield, the oldest and one of the largest law firms in Michigan, Vernon has represented clients in a variety of industries in arbitration proceedings and in state and federal courts across the country. He has served as lead counsel in a number of significant breach of contract, fraud, intellectual property, trade secret, shareholder oppression, and automotive supplier disputes. Recently appointed as resident director, he also manages the firm’s Detroit office, which has a team of 160 attorneys and staff.

Vernon was named to Crain’s Detroit Business “40 Under 40” in 2018 for his accomplishments in the legal profession, his leadership at Miller Canfield and his deep involvement in the local community. He serves on the Young Leaders Board for the Detroit Economic Club and as a mentor in its Career Readiness Academy. He also serves on the Board of Mariners Inn, a rehabilitation and homeless shelter. He is a co-chair of the Federal Bar Association’s Rules and Civil Practice Committee and a member of Leadership Detroit Class XXXVII.

He received his bachelor’s degree from Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario prior to earning his Juris Doctor degrees from Detroit Mercy Law and University of Windsor Faculty of Law’s Canadian & American Dual JD Program. He previously served as an adjunct professor at Detroit Mercy Law, where he taught a first-year legal writing and analysis course in the Dual JD program for several years.

“We are thrilled to welcome Joe back to campus to deliver this year’s commencement address,” said Detroit Mercy Law Dean Phyllis L. Crocker. “With his tireless dedication to his clients and the Detroit community, he exemplifies the best of our alumni and serves as an inspiration to our soon-to-be lawyers.”

The School of Law Commencement Ceremony will begin with members of the Class of 1969 leading the commencement procession as golden jubilee anniversary graduates. The Motor City Brass Quintet will accompany alumna Clare Sawicki ’17 as she performs the national anthems of Canada and the United States. Dean Crocker and University President Antoine M. Garibaldi will offer remarks, in addition to graduate Christopher Stone, who was selected by classmates to speak on their behalf. Graduate Roeiah Epps will lead the prayer inspired by St. Thomas More. Edward Lennon ’88, president of the Detroit Mercy Law Alumni Association, will close the ceremony by welcoming the Class of 2019 to the alumni community. 

School of Law and School of Dentistry Baccalaureate Mass

The Class of 2019 and their families are invited to join their fellow graduates and the Detroit Mercy Law and Detroit Mercy Dental faculty and administration for the annual Baccalaureate Mass on Thursday, May 9 at 5 p.m. at Ss. Peter and Paul Jesuit Church, adjacent to the law school. This mass offers a moment of quiet reflection and thanksgiving for the graduates’ educational journey. Members of all faiths and traditions are welcomed and encouraged to attend.  Rev. Gilbert Sunghera, SJ will preside.

Graduates attending Baccalaureate wear their graduation academic regalia, including their hoods, and gather by 4:30 p.m. at the law school in the first-floor hall opposite the Student Bar Association office. Graduates and guests may park in the Larned and Christ Church parking lots.

Visit the Commencement webpage for full details on this year's celebrations.