Former FBI Director to Speak at Baylor Law Commencement Nov. 8

Nov. 7, 2008

William Steele Sessions, former director of the FBI, will be the keynote speaker at commencement ceremonies for 16 graduates of Baylor Law School at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 8, at Waco Hall. Additionally, Timothy Clark Williams, the highest ranking student in the graduating class, will deliver student remarks. Baylor Interim President David Garland also will participate in the program and will help award juris doctor degrees to the graduates.

Sessions received his bachelor's degree in political science and economics from Baylor in 1956 and his law degree from Baylor Law School in 1958. From 1959 until the summer of 1969, he practiced law in Waco, where he was a partner in the law firm of Haley, Fulbright, Winniford, Sessions & Bice.

Following 10 years of private practice with the firm, Sessions served as the Section Chief of the Government Operations Section of the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., and as the United States Attorney for the Western District of Texas, based in San Antonio and El Paso. For seven years, he served as Chief United States District Judge for the Western District of Texas.

Sessions served as director of the FBI from 1987 to 1993. In 2000, he joined Holland & Knight LLP and serves as a partner engaged primarily in alternative dispute resolution procedures. He serves as an arbitrator and mediator for the American Arbitration Association; a certified panelist and advisory board member of the National Patent Board; and district panelist, national panelist of distinguished neutrals, and a member of the arbitration appeal panel for the CPR Institute of Dispute Resolution.

He was admitted to the State Bar of Texas in 1959 and later was admitted to practice law in the District of Columbia. He holds membership in the San Antonio Bar Association, the Federal and American Bar Associations, the William S. Sessions American Inn of Court, and the National Association of Former United States Attorneys.

Sessions has received numerous honors and awards during his professional career. He was named Baylor Lawyer of the Year in 1988 and he also received the Price Daniel Distinguished Public Service Award and the Baylor Distinguished Alumni Award. He recently received the Constitution Project's inaugural Constitutional Champion Award and Holland and Knight's 2008 Chesterfield Smith Award.

Sessions and his wife, Alice, who is a graduate of the University of Texas at El Paso, are the parents of three sons and a daughter. Two of their sons, William Lewis Sessions and Mark Gregory Sessions, are both graduates of Baylor Law School and practice in Dallas and San Antonio, respectively. Another son, Peter Anderson Sessions, serves in the U.S. House of Representatives representing the 32nd District of Texas. Their daughter, Sara, is an actress in New York City. They also have a grandson, Dallas Alford Sessions, who graduated from Baylor Law School in November 2007.

Sessions has been selected to deliver the law school commencement address multiple times.

Assisting Garland with awarding degrees will be Dean Brad Toben, The M.C. and Mattie Caston Professor of Law. Hooding the graduates will be Gerald Powell, The Abner V. McCall Professor of Evidence and Master Teacher and David Guinn, Master Teacher and the Lyndon L. Olson and William A. Olson Professor of Local Government and Constitutional Law. Rory Ryan, associate professor of law, will give the invocation.

After the ceremony, a reception for the graduates and their guests will be hosted by the Baylor Law Alumni Association at the Sheila and Walter Umphrey Law Center.

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