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Law student report on study abroad as “a new way of seeing things”

Third-year Elon Law students Jenifer McCrea and Ashley Poling recently coordinated a forum exploring the benefits of study abroad experiences for law students. In the following article, Poling reports on the panel and reflects on the benefits of international study.

Third-year Elon Law student Ashley Poling, pictured in front of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, coordinated a fall 2012 forum on the benefits of study abroad experiences for Elon Law students.

A New Way of Seeing Things: Report on the Fall 2012 Study Abroad/International Panel
By Ashley Poling L'13

On the evening of Thursday, November 15th, Elon Law hosted its first student-led Study Abroad/International Panel. We were fortunate to have this event, as well as the lovely dinner reception, sponsored by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Catherine Dunham. While the Panel was targeted primarily toward first and second-year law students, all students in the Elon community were invited to attend. With a great turnout of approximately twenty-five first and second-year law students, the Panel was able to reach a significant number of attendants regarding the value of an international experience in a law school education.

Dean George Johnson graciously spoke at the beginning of the Panel about the value of this international component in an Elon Law student’s education, and was able to provide valuable insight for the students as to how these experiences could ultimately shape their lives.

Dean Johnson also encouraged students to speak with faculty members who have either worked or lived abroad, and he promoted the Elon Law/Elon MBA Program abroad opportunity that students can participate in during the Winter Term of their third-year of law school.

Panelists at the fall 2012 study abroad/international forum, from left, Caroline Johnson, Brenna Ragghianti, Ashley Poling, Jenifer McCrea and Andrew Scott.

I was privileged to work with Jenifer McCrea, a fellow third-year law student, in bringing together the students who were kind enough to participate in the Panel. Along with Jenifer and myself, Brenna Ragghianti, Caroline Johnson, and Andrew Scott, all second-year law students, relayed their personal experiences about studying and working internationally after their first year of law school. Brenna and Caroline shared their impressions of not only working in international commercial contract law for UNIDROIT in Rome, Italy, but they also talked about the academic externship component and cultural components of their experiences. Andrew, who studied abroad with Elon’s MBA program, shared his experience, as well as the importance of handling one’s finances when studying abroad. Jenifer, who studied with William & Mary Law’s Abroad Program in Spain, relayed not only her time studying intellectual property law and comparative constitutions, but also her personal experience of working to successfully finance her studies. I personally studied public international, humanitarian, and human rights law with Santa Clara Law in Geneva, Switzerland and Strasbourg, France, and was able to share the incredible impact that an international experience can have on one’s career path.

It was also noted during the Panel that each student’s study abroad or international experience is different, and it is important that students work with Dean Martinez-Fedrizzi, Ms. Tammy Horn, and Ms. Lynette Lorenzetti in order to have their study abroad program approved, the academic and transcript components of the program handled appropriately, and the steps they personally need to take in terms of securing financial aid understood.

Second-year Elon Law students Caroline Johnson and Brenna Ragghianti in Italy, where they externed with the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law (Unidroit) in 2012.

Henry Miller once said, “One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” Because of this Panel at Elon Law, we hope that we have opened students’ eyes to the benefits of a study abroad or international experience in their law school education.

First-year student Kelly Stage who attended the panel said, “Coming from someone who has not had the opportunity to travel, it allowed me to have an open mind to greater possibilities. Listening to [the Panel members’] positive, and life-changing experiences led me to begin looking more into study abroad programs.”

Wade Love, a second-year student who also attended the panel commented, “The Study Abroad/International Panel provided me with an excellent opportunity to see the various ways and means students here at Elon Law can enhance their legal education by traveling across the world and learning from unique individuals from worlds completely different from our own, and understanding how our laws and theirs interact with one another on a daily basis. The panel has piqued my curiosity, and I am now giving serious consideration to the possibility of going abroad myself in the coming year."

Elon Law students and faculty members in Hong Kong, during the winter 2012 Elon law and MBA international business course.

As someone whose life and legal education was literally transformed by my study abroad experience in terms of my desire to pursue work with an international nonprofit organization, it is truly wonderful that more students at Elon Law are giving consideration to the wide realm of possibilities that an international experience can bring. I hope that this Study Abroad/International Panel is a tradition that will continue at Elon Law for generations of students to come.


Philip Craft,
12/20/2012 3:25 PM