Real-world learning, lawyering and leadership
Elon spotlights the summer work experiences and professional insights of law students in part two of a two-month weekly series.
Caolan Ronan, Class of 2016 at Elon Law, served as a summer law clerk for Judge Robert N. Hunter, Jr., at the North Carolina Court of Appeals in Raleigh.
“This employment was valuable because I not only got to work with varying issues in many different areas of law, but because I also got to learn how judges evaluate those legal issues,” Ronan said. “I had the privilege of developing the draft of a precedent-setting opinion for the State. Certainly a great experience.”
Ronan drafted materials for the Court of Appeals following a case sent back to the Court from the North Carolina Supreme Court. His work throughout summer involved drafting memoranda, cite checking, legal research, case opinion writing and editing.
At Elon Law, Ronan is a student mentor to members of the entering class. He has served as vice president of the Federalist Society. His work experience while at Elon Law includes an internship with the compliance office in the Elon University Athletic Department.
“The accessibility of classes at Elon Law taught by accomplished practicing lawyers really helped in terms of writing skills and learning about the practice of law,” Ronan said. “In my experience, the professors are great, but seeing how lawyers write motions and briefs, in addition to depositions and trial strategy, was truly very helpful.”
Josh Berggrun, Class of 2016 at Elon Law, interned this summer at Blanco Tackabery & Matamoros in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, rotating in the firm’s four major practice areas: renewable energy transactional law, complex business litigation, bankruptcy, and estate.
Berggrun said his work in the firm’s summer associate program was an incredible experience, noting the social atmosphere the firm had to offer, including firm events, baseball games, wine tours, attorney dinners, barbecues, tennis outings and more. With respect to this atmosphere, Berggrun said he “experienced the inclusive and close relationship within the practice groups and firm.”
Berggrun noted the benefits of his experience at Elon Law, specifically noting the value of the law school’s Legal Research and Writing courses in advancing his ability to structure a persuasive argument. Bergrunn's current professional interests include business and environmental law.
Five Elon Law students worked this summer in the Greensboro office of Legal Aid of North Carolina, helping low-income clients who might not otherwise have access to legal representation.
Leah Britt, Class of 2017, worked in the benefits unit at Legal Aid, on matters involving Medicaid, food stamps and Social Security.
“This employment experience gave me the opportunity to broaden my knowledge of the legal field,” Britt said. “I was able to serve clients in our community and assist them in getting back on their feet financially.”
Britt is a mentor to entering law students at Elon. Previously, she has participated in Legal Aid’s Lawyer on the Line program and has interned with the Robeson County and Harnett County District Attorney's offices.
Landon Hodges, Class of 2017, worked in the areas of housing and employment law, with major projects including the prevention of evictions, settling landlord/tenant disputes, and assisting in unemployment hearings for low-income residents.
“This internship has provided me with a great deal of hands-on experience that cannot be taught in a classroom,” Hodges said.
A Class of 2017 Dean’s Fellow and a volunteer in the Guardian ad Litem program, Hodges noted the value of pro bono experience in preparing him for practice in a law firm setting.
“Elon Law’s emphasis on legal research, as well as both objective and persuasive writing, has assisted me greatly in functioning in a law firm,” Hodges said. “Furthermore, the pro bono services that I have been able to participate in through Elon Law given me experiences in client interaction and case building that made me more comfortable in performing my daily tasks.”
Jennifer LaBeau, Class of 2017, worked on the area of housing law, mostly on landlord-tenant issues within subsidized housing.
“My summer with Legal Aid gave me hands on experience with working with clients and working within a firm with multiple areas of practice,” LaBeau said. “Having taken property with Professor Friedland, who made sure that we learned about housing laws, really helped me. I had prior knowledge that I was able to apply towards the work that I was doing.”
Melissa Stoll, Class of 2017, worked in the consumer unit, helping clients with matters relating to foreclosures, repossessions, debt collection and other issues.
"I was able to put to use the topics learned in property, contracts and civil procedure classes,” Stoll said. “I was able to help draft a contract for a client and was able to see how civil procedure intertwines with every area of law, no matter what type you practice.”
“I think the most valuable part of this experience was being able to work with the clients,” Stoll said. “Client interaction is so important and being able to see the client at the end of the process and knowing you made a difference in their life is a great feeling.”
"This summer I was able to see that Elon Law alumni are everywhere and they want to see you succeed,” Stoll continued. Stoll is a member of the Pro Bono Board and a mentor to entering students at Elon Law.
Kelly Walker, Class of 2017, worked in the older adults unit on property issues, will construction and other matters.
“I will be taking Wills & Trusts in the fall and I know that what I have learned this summer will greatly benefit me as I enter this course,” Walker said. “It is one thing to learn how to question clients, but it another thing to see how deeply their issues really affect their lives. I feel prepared to work with clients and to never think of them as just another client, but as a person with a problem who deserves my help.
Walker’s current career interests include property law, agricultural and environmental law, and wills and estate planning, potentially serving rural families who may not have easy access to lawyers
ShaKeta Berrie, Class of 2016, worked primarily on domestic violence cases and family law matters. More information about Berrie's summer work experiences is available here.
This article is part of Elon Law's 2015 student summer employment reporting series.