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Faith Rivers James named Associate Dean for Experiential Learning and Leadership at Elon Law

Elon University School of Law Dean Luke Bierman today announced Professor of Law Faith Rivers James as Elon Law’s first associate dean for experiential learning and leadership. In this role, Rivers James will provide guidance and coordination for the law school’s experiential learning initiatives, including externships, residencies, clinics and the school’s nationally recognized leadership program.

Faith Rivers James, associate dean for experiential learning and leadership, and professor of law, Elon University School of Law

Bierman said the appointment of Rivers James was an important step in advancing Elon’s strategic objectives.

“As Elon Law intensifies its role as a national leader in experiential learning, Dean James’ expertise and guidance will be key factors in broadening and integrating our array of hands-on legal education initiatives,” Bierman said. “Faith Rivers James has been instrumental in building signature programs at Elon Law, including the law school’s nationally recognized leadership and attorney mentor programs. Her appointment to the administration at Elon Law will accelerate our efforts to provide law students with multiple experiential opportunities in law that enhance their education and advance their careers.”

As Professor of Law at Elon, Rivers James teaches Property; Legislation; Nonprofit Organizations; Lawyering, Leadership, and Professionalism; and Public Law & Leadership, a course she created in 2008. In 2012, she was named director of leadership programs at Elon Law. In 2013, the American Bar Association recognized Elon Law’s leadership program with the E. Smythe Gambrell Award, the top national award recognizing excellence in legal professionalism education.

Rivers James received a bachelor’s degree in government and sociology from Dartmouth College and a Juris Doctorate from Harvard Law School. She began practicing as a legislative attorney in the Washington, D.C. office of Akin Gump Strauss, Hauer & Feld, LLP. She entered public service to serve as Counsel and Senior Policy Advisor to the Majority Leader of the United States Congress.

Prior to joining Elon, Rivers James taught at Vermont Law School, where she was a member of the Environmental faculty and fellow of the Land Use Institute. She began her law teaching career as a Visiting Assistant Professor at University of South Carolina School of Law in 2005 and taught in the master’s in public administration program from 1999 to 2002.

A native of Charleston, South Carolina, Rivers James has served as Executive Director of the South Carolina Bar Foundation. In that post, Rivers James authored the South Carolina Supreme Court rule that converted the state’s Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts (IOLTA) program into a comprehensive program that exponentially increased revenues that the Bar Foundation invests in law-related programs.

Rivers James has done extensive research on preservation of African American property ownership. She was instrumental in the creation of the Center for Heirs’ Property Preservation in Charleston, for which the South Carolina Bar Foundation received the National Conference of Bar Foundations Award for Excellence in Programming in 2004. Rivers James served on the American Bar Association’s Property Preservation Task Force from 2006-2007. Rivers James is a frequent speaker on the saga of heirs’ property in the Carolina Lowcountry, and has written several articles and chapters on the topic, including “Inequity in Equity: The Tragedy of Tenancy in Common for Heirs’ Property Owners  Facing Partition in Equity”, which was the lead article in the Temple Political and Civil Rights Law Review  and a chapter in Breakthrough Communities: Sustainability and Justice in the Next American Metropolis, from MIT Press. In the nonprofit arena, Rivers James’ scholarship on diversity and cultural competence in nonprofit governance has been featured in the Berkeley Business Law Journal and the William and Mary’s Environmental Law and Policy Review.

Rivers James is a member of the South Carolina Bar, the District of Columbia Bar and the North Carolina Bar Association. 

Click the links below for information about the following experiential learning programs at Elon Law:

Learn about the recent national symposium on experiential education in law held at Elon here.



Philip Craft,
8/13/2014 1:10 PM