Cliff Edwards to Speak at Combined 2020-2021 Law School Graduation Ceremony

Cliff Edwards (center) and sons John (left) and Chris (right)

The Blewett School of Law is honored to announce that UM School of Law graduate and President of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers (IATL) Cliff Edwards will give the commencement address to the combined 2020-2021 Class at the Graduation Ceremony on Saturday, May 8.

A 1974 graduate of the School of Law, Edwards took what he had learned and launched a successful career representing Montanans and Montana businesses. His trial practice has resulted in two of the top five jury verdicts entered in Montana as well as what is believed to be Montana’s largest single injury settlement.

“My moot court experiences solidified my idea that I wanted to be a courtroom lawyer,” Edwards said. “My education in Montana gave me hands-on advocacy to go with the theory.”

To ensure that future generations of law students would have those same opportunities, he gave what was then the law school’s largest-ever gift to endow the A. Clifford Edwards Advocacy Center, which provides funding for the law school’s competition teams.  

In 1996 Edwards received a call from the head of the IATL admissions committee inviting him to join. The IATL is recognized as the most prestigious organization of trial lawyers in the world, comprising only 500 U.S. attorneys and 150 lawyers from 40 other countries. After holding several leadership positions, Edwards assumed the Presidency of the Academy in April 2019 and continued to serve through the past year, becoming the first person to serve two terms as President.

“It has been the highest honor of my life to serve as Academy President these past two challenging years,” he said. “Countless hours spent each and every week for two years.”

Edwards’ continuing law career of over 45 years is highlighted by family. His two sons, Chris and John, work as partners in the Edwards Law Firm.

“Both of my sons are undergraduate and law grads from Montana,” Edwards said. “To watch my boys develop into top-flight trial lawyers, in their own unique styles, has been the greatest achievement of my life.”

The most recent commencement speakers include:                                                                              

2015 – Blake Morant, President, Association of American Law Schools
2016 – Hon. Charles Erdmann, Chief Judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Services
2017 – Hon. Beth Baker, Associate Justice, Montana Supreme Court
2018 – Denise Juneau, Superintendent, Seattle Public Schools
2019 – Robert Carlson, President, American Bar Association