Elon Law announces groundbreaking new model for legal education
Elon University School of Law will launch a fully redesigned curriculum in fall 2015, better positioning students to excel in the rapidly evolving legal profession.
In keeping with the school's original vision to be a pioneering "law school with a difference," the new curriculum will be highly experiential, personalized and professionally connected – hallmarks of Elon University's nationally recognized programs of engaged learning. With this new program, Elon Law will provide leadership for the major changes taking place in legal education.
Among the highlights of Elon Law's new program are the following:
- The first and only law school to ensure that all students benefit from full-time, faculty-directed residencies in the practice of law
- Experiential learning integrated throughout the curriculum, representing more than 20 percent of the program and far exceeding the new ABA experiential learning requirements
- Students will begin their studies with an introductory program focused on legal analysis, writing and communication, and leadership and professionalism
- Each student will be assigned a four-person professional advising team: a faculty adviser, a working attorney mentor (preceptor), an executive coach and a career consultant
- In a new seven-trimester schedule, students will complete their studies in December, allowing them to take the February bar exam and begin law practice in the spring
- Total tuition for the entering Class of 2015 will be lowered nearly $14,000 from the current level, with a guaranteed fixed cost for the entire program of study for the members of the entering class
“Considering the gap that exists between traditional law schools and the skill sets demanded in modern legal practice, this is not a time for incremental change in legal education," said Luke Bierman, dean of the law school. "Elon Law faculty spent months closely examining every aspect of our program and have designed a highly personalized approach that we believe is unmatched at other schools. This bold new model will ensure that our students graduate with the knowledge, skills, professionalism and practical experience they need to become lawyer-leaders in this new era of law."
Elon Law's new model exceeds American Bar Association accreditation standards and builds on the signature programs that have earned national recognition for the school since it was established in 2006. Elon Law received the 2013 ABA national award for excellence in legal professionalism education, in recognition of the school's leadership program. The school’s innovative preceptor program, pairing a working attorney mentor with each student, was featured in The National Jurist’s selection of Elon Law as one of “America’s 20 most innovative law schools.”
Bierman said the new curriculum draws inspiration from Elon University's widely recognized position as the nation's preeminent university for engaged global learning. It also builds on Elon Law's longstanding emphasis on creating deep partnerships and connections between students and those in the legal profession. Elon Law graduates have a distinct career advantage because of the close working relationships they have enjoyed with practicing attorneys, as well as with Elon faculty, all of whom have significant legal practice experience and scholarly accomplishments.
“Elon is providing a creative and exciting model for the future of legal education,” said David Gergen, chair of the Elon University School of Law Advisory Board and former adviser to four United States presidents. “I applaud Elon’s innovative spirit and its commitment to keeping pace with the changing dynamics of law practice.”
“I commend Elon Law for taking important new steps that align the law school with recommendations recently advanced by the American Bar Association Task Force on the Future of Legal Education," said James R. Silkenat, immediate past president of the ABA and partner in the New York office of the national law firm of Sullivan & Worcester. "Full-time residencies-in-practice and leadership training are precisely the kinds of creative innovations we need from American law schools. Elon’s programs will be attractive to law students while such students prepare to be relevant and helpful lawyers in the 21st century.”
"Law schools have been criticized for not changing quickly enough to adapt to the new normal in the legal industry," said Ellen Gregg, member of Elon’s Law School Advisory Board and partner, Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice. "Elon Law embraces the opportunity to lead the way, supplementing its rigorous academic program with meaningful legal practice experiences, and emphasizing strong communication and business skills that align with client needs. Elon's new approach is a uniquely complete program of legal training. The fact that Elon can lower the overall cost to students and finish the job in less than three years is just icing on the cake."
The new Elon model of legal education is designed with four distinctive qualities:
- Real-world experience for all students through full-time, faculty-supervised residencies in the practice of law provided during the academic year, rather than summer months when there is strong competition for placements
- Hands-on legal projects with nonprofits and government agencies through the Public Law and Leadership course
- First-year lab experiences with case simulations led by accomplished practicing attorneys
- Extensive opportunities for in-depth learning in legal clinics, clerkships and internships
- Trial advocacy courses grounded in practice simulations, plus nationally-competitive Moot Court and Mock Trial programs
Highly personal and professionally connected
- A team of four professional advisers for each student provides ongoing guidance in selecting courses, identifying legal practice experiences and developing custom pathways to career success
- Workshops and career development programs to help students make networking connections and develop extensive professional portfolios
- Instruction in leadership, project management and civic engagement in partnership with the internationally-renowned Center for Creative Leadership
- One of the few U.S. law schools that is home to a working court - the North Carolina Business Court
Rigorous foundation of legal knowledge and skills
- Progressive development of legal knowledge, skills and competencies with learning outcomes assessed in each trimester
- Foundational introductory course on legal analysis, writing and communication, and leadership and professionalism
- Writing and communications emphasis for all students in every trimester
- Capstone Bridge-to-Practice courses transitioning students from legal theory to practice in their areas of interest
- A program designed to lower the cost of legal education and prepare students for early entry into the job market
- Newly reduced tuition that is 20 percent lower than the national average for private law schools and guaranteed not to increase for each student’s program of study
- Extensive scholarship and fellowship opportunities for many qualified applicants
- Seven-trimester (2.5 year) curriculum allows students to graduate in December, take the February bar exam and begin their careers in the spring while students in traditional programs are studying for the July bar exam
Elon is currently recruiting highly motivated students to join the faculty, staff and students of Elon Law in launching its new curriculum in 2015. Currently enrolled students are already taking advantage of the distinctive aspects of the Elon Law program, and they will continue to help Elon Law shape the future of legal education. Additional information about Elon Law’s program of study and application process is available at law.elon.edu.