Michael F. Clayton
December 2013 Commencement Speaker
Michael F. Clayton has been recognized as one of the top intellectual property attorneys in the nation; he is a partner in the international law firm of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, which has more than 1,400 lawyers in 25 offices. He is the leader of the International Trademark and Copyright Practice in the firm’s Washington, D.C., office. His practice focuses on intellectual property transactional and litigation representations in trademark, copyright, trade secret, false advertising and unfair competition matters, and increasingly has focused upon the intersection of intellectual property law and nonprofit organizations. He has been identified as among the top trademark practitioners in the United States and has received international recognition.
Active in community service, since 1988 Clayton has served, in a pro bono capacity, as general counsel to the Women in Military Service for America Memorial in Washington, D.C. He serves as a close adviser to Newman’s Own Foundation and is a member of the board of trustees of Historic Sotterley Inc. He is a member of the Wake Forest Law DC Program Advisory Board. Clayton was the first recipient of the Elizabeth D. and Richard A. Merrill endowment for the Lecturer in Law post at the University of Virginia.
Clayton is a 1980 graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law, where he was a Dillard Fellow, and he is a 1977 Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Wake Forest University. He is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court and the courts of the District of Columbia and Virginia.
In his address, he challenged graduates to aim beyond traditional concepts of success. “Success is not enough,” Clayton said. “There is a misplaced emphasis on commercial success in our culture.” Clayton described the sense of meaning and personal satisfaction he has derived as a result of his pro bono and volunteer services. He was instrumental in establishing the Women in Military Service for America Memorial in Washington, D.C., and is a close adviser to the Newman’s Own Foundation, which supports programs for children with serious illnesses.
Clayton urged graduates to balance their drive for success with a goal to serve others. “Slow down, listen, and don’t overlook opportunities to serve others -- even small opportunities, because you never know where small things will lead.”
Clayton received the honorary degree Doctor of Humane Letters from Coastal Carolina University during the December 2013 commencement ceremony.