The Leadership Program at Elon Law

Guilford CourthouseThe need for honest, innovative and wise leaders at all levels of civic and professional life has never been greater. Recognizing this need, Elon University School of Law has integrated leadership education across all three years of its program of study.

Through the leadership program, the school prepares its graduates to be not only successful lawyers who can excel at the highest levels of the profession, but also leading contributors to the well-being of their communities, the nation and the world.

In developing its leadership curriculum, Elon Law partners with the Center for Creative Leadership, an internationally recognized executive education program headquartered in Greensboro. Over the course of the three-year program, Elon Law incorporates the best of leadership education through courses and experiential learning opportunities, with students working directly with attorneys, judges, and nonprofit and public interest organizations.

David Gergen“As one who has been involved in trying to work with the next generation, to prepare a fresh generation of leaders for this country, public leaders which I think we need so much, Elon Law’s emphasis on community service and leadership has enormous appeal to me.”

Former Presidential Adviser
& Chair, Elon Law Advisory Board

George Johnson"In a world of new and unprecedented challenges, Elon Law graduates will be equipped to seize enormous opportunities for leadership and service. They will recognize their responsibility to be civically engaged, to serve and to lead, and they will work to revive those historic ideals of the legal profession."

Dean, Elon University School of Law

Leadership Program Highlights


Student with preceptorIn the first year of law study, the leadership curriculum focuses on improving students' communications and law study skills. Working through the law school's Academic Skills Program, students identify approaches to the study of law that maximize their individual styles of learning. Working with the school's Executive Coach-in-Residence, first year law students also work to improve their communications techniques, including one-on-one coaching as they prepare to deliver oral arguments in a first semester legal writing class.

In addition, students participate in a series of self-assessment exercises to develop personal and professional objectives, working closely with Elon Law's Distinguished Leadership Coach-in-Residence and with practicing attorneys who serve as mentor advisers through the school's Preceptor Program.

During the winter term, first year law students participate in a class titled, "Lawyering, Leadership, and Professionalism," taught by Roland Smith, Professor of Leadership. The course consists of three components: lawyering exercises and simulations emphasizing collaborative problem solving, explorations in the role of the citizen lawyer, and interviews and discussions with leading lawyers in the region, focused on issues in leadership in the law.


Public DefendersDuring the second year of law study, students participate in a winter term course titled "Public Law & Leadership Experience," taught be Elon Law professor Faith Rivers James. The goal of the course is to give students a hands-on opportunity to exercise leadership in the public arena with actual clients. Working in teams, students tackle public law problems faced by nonprofit organizations and governmental entities.

Under the supervision of pro-bono attorneys and law professors, students employ client interviewing, research, written and oral communication skills to deliver memoranda and presentations to their team clients. In this structured interaction, students provide substantive assistance to organizations in the community while gaining an appreciation of the importance of public service in the legal profession.

The course also considers interpersonal aspects of team leadership. Executive coaches assist students in assessing their individual leadership styles and establishing goals for interpersonal development.

The course concludes with a plenary session dedicated to practical aspects of lawyering and leadership from faculty and a variety of young and senior lawyers from diverse law firm and public sector practices.

Through this experience, students emerge from the class with a view of the skills expected of lawyers in practice, business and community leadership roles.


Student leaderThird year law students have the opportunity to participate in the law school's Captstone Leadership Course, directed by Elon Law professor Margaret Kantlehner. Capstone projects at Elon Law allow third year students to apply legal knowledge and leaderships skills toward initiatives of their choice that benefit the profession, the community, or society more broadly.

Capstone projects take many forms, but each includes the following elements: a written project plan describing the nature of the project, an explanation of the goal to be achieved, a description of methodology to achieve the goal, an assessment of the potential impact of the completed project for the organization or group for whom it is done, an assessment of how undertaking the project will engage specific leadership skills, and identification o benchmarks to assure progress on the project is made over time.

Students participating in a capstone project also reflect on what they learn both about the project and about the application of their leadership abilities in pursuing the project.

Example Capstone Project: Elon Law student Jeb Brooks leads initiative to draw young professionals into civic life

Example Capstone Project: New report by Elon Law students reveals strong interest in mentoring program among lawyers in Wake County


Law skylightThe Bryan Leadership Lecture Series is an integral part of Elon Law's commitment to develop lawyers who are also leaders. Endowed through a generous gift from the Joseph M. Bryan Foundation of Greensboro, NC, the series brings accomplished leaders from a variety of disciplines to Elon to share their experiences and perspectives with students and faculty. Click here for details.


Elon Law’s Leadership Fellows program is the newest feature of the school’s comprehensive program of leadership education for law students.

Leadership FellowsThrough leadership seminars, monthly roundtables and field-based experiences across three years of legal education, Leadership Fellows develop capacities to address vexing public policy challenges and to lead in their communities and beyond.

Leadership Fellows meet regularly with national and world leaders to explore issues in leadership and the law. In the past, Elon Law has hosted national leaders such as historian David McCullough, legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, former North Carolina Governor Jim Hunt, former North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Henry Frye, and Newark, NJ, Mayor Cory Booker.

In addition to scholarships, Leadership Fellows are guaranteed an opportunity to serve in a public sector organization through a summer externship and are asked to assist in the design of leadership programs and initiatives at Elon Law.

In their third year of study, Leadership Fellows undertake a year-long capstone leadership project, through which they apply in-depth knowledge and skills in leadership and the law with the goal of resolving significant public policy issues and improving lives in communities across the region, the country and the world.

Click here for more information about the Leadership Fellows Program.