'You're going to be great lawyers'
The Class of 2018 is one of the most diverse in the history of Elon Law with students drawn to North Carolina for a legal program focused on experiential education like no other law school in the nation.
They travelled to North Carolina from across the United States with a belief in service to their nation, state and local communities. They have worked on mission trips, as mentors and tutors in the public schools, coaches and referees in community sports leagues, as volunteers in churches, and with numerous local nonprofit organizations.
Many have already interned or worked full-time for law firms, judges, district attorney and public defender offices. They have interned at the White House, the Department of Homeland Security, the Environmental Protection Agency, and other federal and state agencies.
Some are certified paralegals and licensed real estate brokers. One is a minister. Another is a registered nurse. Four have military service with commendations and, in one instance, a Purple Heart.
Still others have matriculated to Elon University School of Law straight from their undergraduate studies, where they studied political science, accounting, business, international relations and more. Over 30 college majors are represented in the Class of 2018.
The 131 students who filled a second floor classroom on Aug. 9, 2016, at Elon Law in downtown Greensboro, North Carolina, represent the second cohort to enroll in a groundbreaking program designed to be more experiential, with more value, and more connection to faculty and alumni than anywhere else in the United States.
“You are going to do things here that no other law school in America is doing,” said Elon Law Dean Luke Bierman in welcoming remarks to the Class of 2018. “I care a lot about the law. I care a lot about lawyers. And I care especially about future lawyers. We solve problems, and we prevent problems. You’re going to be great lawyers.
“And you are brave to be here. You chose to be part of Elon Law and what we are building in this transformational moment in society.”
Since redesigning its curriculum in 2015, all new Elon Law students take courses in a trimester system, with fewer classes per term that enable deeper focus on core subject matter. The new curriculum graduates students in 2.5 years, saving time and money with the opportunity for students to take the bar exam in February and get a head start on their careers.
Guaranteed experiential learning components, anchored by a full-time residency in the practice of law during the second year of study, include:
- first-year lab courses taught by practicing attorneys in collaboration with faculty members, providing workshops for students to experience how legal theory informs the real-world practice of law;
- advisement from a personal attorney mentor;
- team-based legal projects for nonprofits and public agencies;
- culminating bridge-to-practice courses that match students’ career interests.
The Tuesday morning welcome program in Room 207 brought the Class of 2018 together for the first time during a week of orientation programming and activities. The class this week will also visit the North Carolina Bar Association, the North Carolina Supreme Court, and the North Carolina Court of Appeals.
Alan Woodlief, Elon Law’s senior associate dean for admissions, administration & finance, shared information about the class and some of its members during the morning meeting.
For the third consecutive year, almost half of the entering class is comprised of out-of-state students. Forty-seven percent list permanent residences in states other than North Carolina. Virginia, South Carolina and Maryland top the list of states represented in the new class, though students also hail from states such as New York, Hawaii, Florida and California.
Seven students are from other countries: Canada, Columbia, Ghana, Guyana, Honduras, India and Nigeria. Additional information includes:
- Average Age: 24
- Age Range: 20-47
- 59% Female / 41% Male
- 27% Students of Color
- Graduates of 74 Colleges and Universities from Across the Nation
- 10 Students with Master’s Degrees
Students in the Class of 2018 were active participants and leaders in student organizations. Several were student body presidents and vice presidents. They competed on mock trial, moot court and debate teams, and in Model United Nations. They played in college bands and sang in college choirs, wrote for college newspapers and magazines, worked for campus radio stations, and founded numerous student organizations. Many studied or worked abroad in countries, including Austria, Germany, Italy, Cuba and China.
Several are fluent in other languages, including Spanish, French, Russian, Arabic, German, Japanese, Korean, Farsi, Yoruba, Urdu, Albanian, and Igbo, a native Nigerian dialect.
Students reported myriad talents, interests and hobbies, including guitar, piano, violin, acting, dancing and scuba diving. One has competed regularly in Ironman competitions and has hiked the entire Appalachian Trail.
“To be sure, this is just a partial list of all of the class' accomplishments, and we look forward to getting to know you more and to learning more about your backgrounds,” Woodlief said. “We look forward to witnessing first hand your accomplishments to come - over the next two and a half years and throughout your careers as Elon lawyers – as you channel this energy, focus, and commitment to excellence and service in your new chosen profession as pioneering lawyer leaders.”