Journal of Leadership and the Law

Spotlight: Experiential Learning at Elon Paving the Way

By Shoshanna Silverberg L’15

Elon University School of Law hosted an Experiential Learning in Law Symposium this summer.  In attendance were professors and administrators from many law schools around the country.  Experiential ed coordinator Chrissy Cerniglia Brown, from Loyola School of Law in New Orleans and Professor of Architecture at Wentworth School of Design and Boston Architectural College chatted with Shoshanna Silverberg the first evening of the Symposium and shared their perspective on the purpose of this event, and what we have to look forward to in the coming generation of legal minds.

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Shoshanna chatted with Elon's new Dean, Luke Bierman, as well.  Dean Bierman previosuly served as associate dean for experiential education and distinguished professor of the practice of law at Northeastern School of Law. He is now leading Elon forward into a strategic plan that aims to educate law students for the field in a rapidly changing twenty first century.  His comments on the role of experiential learning in legal education is that it's essential.  "Integrating" students into a "broad profession" is not only how we can make education itself more dynamic, but will be what trains our students to both compete and positively contribute to a dynamic landscape in terms of employment. 

Bierman also emphasized the importance of experiential learning in order to address a diversity of learning styles, and as our interview with Chrissy Cerniglia Brown and Marilyn Moedinger also highlight, the need to match students' educational opportunities with their interests and passions as individuals.  Watch our footage below for a fuller sense of what Dean Bierman has to say. 

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Elon Professor and long time Barbri lecturer and education activist, Steve Friedland, also joined the conversation.  His emphasis is on "mobile learning" and the advantages that come with allowing a law school to integrate remote learning formats into its curriculum.  He says that "learning should take place in the community," and by allowing students to gain practical experience out in the field, even in the communities they call home, outside of Greensboro, we foster their ability to be effective advocates.  Technology facilitates this by allowing course work to be completed online, check-ins by externship coordinators to happen via email or other online platforms, and even online certificate programs that could be added to a student's in-person course load. 

The shift here from a traditional mentality present in legal education is significant -- and, as Steve Friedland points out, Elon is leading the way. 

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Additional information about the Second National Symposium on Experiential Education in Law is available here.