Judge Paul J. Watford of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit will deliver the Commencement address for the UCLA School of Law's 66th Commencement ceremony on Friday, May 12.
Judge Watford has shown a steadfast commitment to the law, equality and justice while working as a federal prosecutor, an attorney in private practice and now as a widely respected member of the federal bench. A UCLA Law alum, he has also shown a great commitment to UCLA Law and to legal education, returning to campus frequently to engage with students and share the benefit of his experience.
Judge Watford was born and raised in Orange County, and earned his bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley in 1989. He obtained his J.D. from UCLA School of Law in 1994, where he was a member of the Order of the Coif and served as an editor on the UCLA Law Review.
After earning his law degree, he clerked for another alum, Ninth Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski '75, and then U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. From 1997 to 2000, he was an Assistant United States Attorney in the Central District of California, prosecuting white-collar crimes and other matters as part of the Criminal Division and Major Frauds Section. He worked briefly at Sidley & Austin and spent 12 years at Munger, Tolles & Olson in Los Angeles, where he was named a partner in 2003.
He was nominated to the Ninth Circuit by President Obama in 2011 and was confirmed by the Senate in 2012. In 2016, Judge Watford was on President Obama's short list for possible nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court seat previously held by Justice Antonin Scalia.
The 2017 Commencement ceremony will be held in Dickson Court North, adjacent to Dodd Hall, starting at 3:30 p.m. on May 12. All are welcome, and tickets are not required. Learn more about the Commencement ceremony.