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First steps toward careers in the law

Members of the Class of 2019 embark on their legal studies this fall as Elon Law completes its transition to an experiential curriculum unique in American legal education. 

It is one of the most diverse classes in the history of Elon Law.

Members of the Class of 2019 have served in the military and volunteered with AmeriCorps. They have already interned or worked full time for law firms and judges, with district attorney’s offices and as paralegals.

They have interned with members of Congress and state legislators, or worked for government agencies and political campaigns. A few previously interned or worked for Walt Disney World, Major League Baseball, the NFL’s Denver Broncos, and the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets.  

They have owned their own businesses and have worked in a variety of fields as social workers, probation officers, security guards, teachers, wedding planners, swim instructors, human resources specialists, photojournalists and financial analysts.

The 140 students in the Class of 2019 graduated from large state schools and small liberal arts colleges. Their undergraduate majors range from business administration to criminal justice, engineering to history, international business to journalism, mathematics to philosophy, and psychology to social work.

What binds the group is a commitment to service and leadership in their communities, as students learned Aug. 8, 2017, in a morning welcome program for the Class of 2019 led by Elon Law Dean Luke Bierman and Senior Associate Dean Alan Woodlief.

“You’re going to do things that no other law students in this country are doing,” Bierman said of the legal education students will receive at Elon Law. “We are very pleased that you’ve chosen to be with us. This is the beginning of a really good friendship and relationship.”

In fact, Bierman said, the Class of 2019 would later in the morning start learning about the law with a writing exercise led by A. Brennan Aberle, an Elon Law alumnus now serving as an assistant public defender in Guilford County: how to write bail bond applications.

Writing a bail bond application on their first full day in the building is the kind of experiential learning that Elon Law emphasizes, Bierman said. And by welcoming the Class of 2019, all current Elon Law students are now enrolled in a curriculum introduced in 2015 with courses offered in a trimester system, with fewer classes per term that enable deeper focus on core subject matter.

Students graduate in 2.5 years, saving time and money with the opportunity for students to take the bar exam in February and get a head start on their careers. Among Elon Law’s many guaranteed experiential learning components, anchored by a full-time, course-connected residency in the practice of law during the second year of study, are:

  • first-year lab courses taught by practicing attorneys in collaboration with faculty members, providing workshops for students to experience how legal theory informs the real-world practice of law;
  • advisement from a personal attorney mentor;
  • culminating bridge-to-practice courses that match students’ career interests.

The Tuesday morning welcome program in Room 207 brought the Class of 2019 together for the first time during a week of orientation programming and activities that include a reception hosted by the North Carolina Bar Association, a Convocation program on Elon University’s main campus, and a day of service known as “Elon Law Reaches Out.”

Woodlief shared additional information about the class and some of its members during the morning meeting.

  • 62% Female / 38% Male
  • 23% Students of Color
  • 24 States Are Represented Among the Entering Class
  • Graduates of 83 Colleges and Universities from Across the Nation
  • More Than 30 College Majors Are Represented in the Class
  • Several Students with Master’s Degrees and 1 with a Doctorate
  • 8 Students Have Served in the U.S. Armed Forces

A. Brennan Aberle L'12
Members of the class were active participants and leaders in student organizations. They served in student government positions, competed on mock trial teams and mediation teams, served as research assistants and graduate assistants, and served as justices on their school’s honor councils.

They reported for college newspapers and magazines and worked for campus radio and TV stations. Several played a variety of sports and many were varsity athletes.

“To be sure, this is just a partial list of all of your accomplishments, and we look forward to getting to know you more and to learning more about your backgrounds,” Woodlief said. “We look forward to witnessing first hand your accomplishments to come - over the next two and a half years and throughout your careers – as you channel this energy, focus, and commitment to excellence and service in your new chosen profession as pioneering lawyer leaders.”

Eric Townsend,
8/8/2017 3:50 PM