Former Acting Solicitor General to Speak at UVA Law School Commencement

November 17, 2011

Neal Katyal, a former acting solicitor general of the United States, a Georgetown University law professor and a partner at the Washington, D.C., law firm Hogan Lovells, will deliver the 2012 commencement speech at the University of Virginia School of Law on May 20.

Katyal, 41, has argued and won some of the most significant cases to be heard by the Supreme Court in the past decade, including Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, in which he successfully challenged the policy of military trials at Guantanamo Bay.

As acting solicitor general from May 2010 through June 2011, he successfully defended the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (in the landmark 8-1 Northwest Austin v. Holder). He also argued on behalf of former Attorney General John Ashcroft against alleged abuses in the war on terror, receiving a unanimous Supreme Court decision in Ashcroft v. al-Kidd.

Katyal's experience with the Supreme Court extends as far back as 2000, when he served as Vice President Al Gore's co-counsel in Bush v. Gore. He also represented the deans of private law schools in the landmark affirmative action case Grutter v. Bollinger.

"The SBA Graduation Committee is extremely happy to have Neal Katyal as our graduation speaker," said Student Bar Association President Sanjiv Tata, a third-year law student. "In our search, we looked to find a speaker who embodied the ideals that Virginia Law seeks to inculcate in its students. Mr. Katyal's commitment to public service and justice under the law reflects the Law School's own emphasis on these areas in its culture and curriculum. We are deeply honored to have him join us, and we are eagerly looking forward to his speech."

Katyal said:I'm tremendously honored to address the class of 2012, for the University of Virginia School of Law is not only one of the finest schools in the world, but also the alma mater both to the co-CEO of my firm, Warren Gorrell ['79], and my co-head of appellate litigation, Cate Stetson ['94]."

Prior to succeeding now-Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan as acting solicitor general, Katyal served as principal deputy solicitor general, and worked in other roles at the Justice Department during the late 1990s. He was the recipient of the highest award given to a civilian by the Justice Department, the Edmund Randolph Award, which Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. (More) presented to him earlier this year.

Katyal is the Paul and Patricia Saunders Professor of Law at Georgetown University, where he has been a member of the faculty for almost 15 years. He is one of the youngest among his colleagues to have received tenure and a chaired professorship.

After graduating from Yale Law School in 1995, Katyal clerked for Judge Guido Calabresi of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer.

In addition to appellate litigation, Katyal's practice areas at Hogan Lovells include intellectual property, health, and securities litigation and enforcement.

The Law School commencement follows the university-wide ceremony at the Rotunda and Old Cabell Hall. Details will be announced closer to the ceremony in the spring.


Founded in 1819, the University of Virginia School of Law is the second-oldest continuously operating law school in the nation. Consistently ranked among the top law schools, Virginia is a world-renowned training ground for distinguished lawyers and public servants, instilling in them a commitment to leadership, integrity and community service.

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