Practice experience integrated throughout the curriculum

Elon Law students outside Guilford County CourthouseElon's belief that experiential learning is essential to an exceptional legal education is reflected in the school's new curriculum, offering a sequence of experiences that put student learning into action, including:

  • full-time residencies-in-practice
  • team-based legal projects for nonprofits
  • lab courses
  • clinics
  • moot court and mock trial
  • internships and judicial clerkships
  • bridge-to-practice courses
  • attorney shadowing.

Residencies-in-Practice

Elon is the first law school to ensure that all students will benefit from full-time, faculty-directed residencies in the practice of law.

Guided by a faculty member, students put their legal skills to work in a judicial clerkship, corporate, nonprofit or public law office, or in one of Elon’s active legal clinics. Rather than compete for limited opportunities in the summer, students will complete residencies during one trimester of their second year of study. 

Student interests in specific areas of law will drive the residency placement process, enabling each student to develop specialized knowledge and skills, while building credentials and networks that support their career goals.

Elon Law student teamTeam-based legal projects

In the Public Law and Leadership course, student teams take on important legal projects that benefit organizations with public interest missions. The course enables students to apply legal knowledge and skills to real-world case studies provided by nonprofit and government entities. At the start of their second year, student teams use client interviewing, legal research and communication skills to develop memoranda and presentations for the partnering organizations, putting their legal and leadership training to work.  Learn more.

The course is part of the law school's nationally recognized Leadership Program.

“In honoring your program with the leading national award recognizing excellence in legal professionalism programming, the Committee has found the Elon Leadership Program to be worthy of emulation by law schools across the nation.” – Frederic S. Ury, Chair of the ABA’s Standing Committee on Professionalism, announcing Elon Law's Leadership Program as recipient of the 2013 E. Smythe Gambrell Award. 

Learn about Elon Law's Leadership Program here.

Elon Law Professor Enrique Armijo with Elon Law studentsLegal Practice Labs

Students will gain perspective about the application of legal theory in the every-day practice of law through case simulations led by accomplished practicing attorneys.

Lab classes are affiliated with foundational first-year law courses, helping students connect the importance of their classroom learning to their future success as practicing attorneys.

 

Family reunification enabled by Elon Law student work in the Humanitarian Immigration Law ClinicClinics

Elon Law students serve clients directly, under faculty supervision, in five clinics that address the legal needs of small businesses, abused and neglected children, the elderly, families and refugees fleeing war and conflict across the world.

  • Elder Law Clinic
  • Guardian ad Litem Appellate Advocacy Clinic
    (beginning January 2015)
  • Humanitarian Immigration Law Clinic
  • Small Business & Entrepreneurship Clinic
  • Wills Drafting Clinic

>> At right, a family separated for more than 10 years by war in Somalia was reunited in 2014, thanks to Elon Law students’ legal work in the Humanitarian Immigration Law Clinic.

Learn more about legal clinics at Elon Law

Elon Law students engaged in trial practiceMoot Court and Mock Trial

Many Elon Law students compete nationally on moot court and mock trial teams and engage in extensive simulation based learning through the school’s broad trial practice program.

Moot Court Program

Mock Trial Program

Trial Practice Program

Internships and judicial clerkships

Students are supported by Elon Law’s Office of Student and Professional Life, as well four-member advising teams, in identifying summer employment opportunities and other career building experiences each year.

Illustrations of Elon Law student placements

Elon Law Professor Robert Parrish teachingBridge-to-Practice courses

In the final trimester of study, students take courses that match their career interests and bring together all that they have learned, aiding their transition from theory to practice. Bridge Courses may involve an extended law practice simulation or live-client experience. They challenge students to engage in higher-order consideration of theoretical and practical problems, providing students with opportunities to:

  • Exercise professional judgment
  • Evaluate legal strategies
  • Build on and apply legal knowledge from other courses to novel factual situations
  • Synthesize legal knowledge from across foundational law areas
  • Practice advanced oral and written communication skills.

Attorney Jeff Davis serves as a mentor to law student Ben McKaigAttorney shadowing

All students are assigned an attorney-mentor (preceptor) from day one, exposing them to business and practical dimensions of law. Preceptors invite students to accompany them to observe trials, client interviews, depositions, mediations and other dimensions of law practice. While primarily involved with first-year law students, preceptors regularly interact with second- and third-year law students, as well as with alumni of the law school.

>> Law student Benjamin McKaig, right, benefits from the guidance and advice of his attorney mentor, Jeff Davis, Counsel at Lincoln Financial Group.

Strategically designed experiences for optimized learning and professional development

Elon Law’s array of practice-based learning opportunities are sequenced to enable students to take on increasing responsibility within the legal profession as they progress through law school. Research indicates that students who benefit from a series of immersive practice experiences in law school become more deeply engaged in their courses and identify career goals earlier. Elon provides students with a dynamic interplay between immersive experiences in practice and rigorous courses to achieve exceptional learning outcomes and accelerated career development. The sequence of Elon Law experiences is designed to enrich students’ knowledge and skills, accelerate their professional development and broaden their career opportunities.

Judge James L. Gale with Elon Law studentsElon is one of the few U.S. law schools to share space with a working court – the North Carolina Business Court. The Honorable James L. Gale, Chief Special Superior Court Judge for Complex Business Cases, teaches at Elon Law, welcomes students to observe the Business Court in session, encourages dialogue between students and business law attorneys and involves Elon students in the Business Court as interns and judicial clerks. The location of the Business Court within Elon Law’s facilities is another example of Elon connecting students’ legal education to the practice of law from year one to graduation. Learn more about the Business Court's value to students here.