About the Distinguished Leadership Lecture Series

The Distinguished Leadership Lecture Series presented by The Joseph M. Bryan Foundation is an integral part of Elon Law’s commitment to learning, lawyering and leadership. Endowed through a generous gift from The Joseph M. Bryan Foundation of Greensboro, N.C., the series brings accomplished leaders from a variety of disciplines to Elon to share their experiences and perspectives with students and faculty.

Previous Speakers

Shannon Bream

Attorney, Host of FOX News Sunday with Shannon Bream, and FOX’s Chief Legal Correspondent

April 12, 2023

“It’s good to know what the other side has to say. If anything, challenging our ideas should make us realize that we’re wrong about something, or to find better ways to defend the ideas that we hold. I would just encourage you to consume as much as you can across the (political) spectrum.”

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Sunny Hostin

Attorney, Author, and Co-Host of “The View”

February 9, 2023

“I think it’s such an honor to get a law degree. It’s really an honorable profession What’s important to do with that law degree, while I know many of you probably have loans and it’s difficult to see past that, it’s important to combine your passion and your purpose. You spend so much time at work. You have to love what you do, and this is the time to find out what you love. It really is.”

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The Distinguished Leadership Lecture Series presented by the Joseph M. Bryan Foundation brought a conversation with Dan Abrams, left, moderated by Professor Enrique Armijo November 2, 2022, to the Carolina Theater in Greensboro.Dan Abrams

Founder & CEO of Abrams Media, Chief Legal Affairs Correspondent for ABC News

November 2, 2022

“People care more about the economy and their pocketbooks and crime than they do about a theoretical comment about ‘democracy is at risk.’ That’s not to minimize it all. Because it’s real! The people who won’t even commit to saying they’ll accept the results in this election are bananas and scary. But there has to be a time and a place and a way to talk about that so it doesn’t just feel like you’re doing it for political points. I think that’s the challenge. … It’s more important, I think, to look forward than to look back.”

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Preet Bharara

Former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York

October 10, 2019

“There’s something about public corruption that sticks in people’s craw like nothing else … You voted these guys into office – and it’s almost always guys – and they lined their pockets by virtue of the faith you placed in them, and they did it over and over and over again. That makes people upset. That’s not only an assault on a particular federal statute, it’s an assault on democracy.”

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Lynch HeadshotLoretta Lynch

Former U.S. Attorney General

February 28, 2019

“Government is more than who the president is. Government is all of us. Every single one of us. And so as we work through what I know are really challenging times, what are really hard times, think that not only have we been there before, but we persevered.”

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Dershowitz Speaking PhotoAlan Dershowitz

Civil liberties attorney and Harvard Law professor emeritus

November 14, 2018

“Elon is on the right path, and having a law school in an important city, with a court on your premise? It’s like the medical school model. Ultimately, it’s going to be the future of legal education.”

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Hutchinson Speaking HeadshotKay Bailey Hutchison

Retired U.S. Senator from Texas, NATO Ambassador

April 13, 2017

“What impressed me about Elon Law is that it’s trying to be something different and is giving students an experience.”

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Farrow Speaking PhotoRonan Farrow

NBC Correspondent and Yale Law graduate

November 15, 2016

“You may be a young community, but you are formidable. You have your gaze fixed exactly on where we all need it to be – on the real world and its problems. The students here have been empowered.”

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Bilas Speaking PhotoJay Bilas

ESPN commentator, author and attorney

April 18, 2016

“You’ve got to be an expert in your field. You have to be credible with the people you’re dealing with in every context. And you’ve got to allow for the people around you to be good at what they do, too.”

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Liptak SpeakingAdam Liptak

The New York Times Supreme Court Correspondent

February 9, 2016

“Presidents seem to have unlocked the secret to making sure that their nominees vote as the president might like them to vote. There’s never been a five to four split like this before. It is for the first time in American history, closely divided along partisan lines. Every one of the Court’s five more conservative members was appointed by Republican presidents and every one of its more liberal members was appointed by a Democratic president. It wasn’t long ago that party affiliation did not predict voting on the Supreme Court.”

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Granholm HeadshotJennifer Granholm

Two-term Michigan Governor

September 14, 2015

“If you’re not serving as a public lawyer, if you’re not stepping forward to infuse state legislatures and Congressional seats with the knowledge that you gain here, we just lose that benefit and it is a shame for the world. You have to step up and remember that it is not about you, it is about the changes that you want to make. By the power vested in me as a former governor, I hereby declare all you young people invited to lead.”

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Foxx SpeakingAnthony Foxx

Mayor, Charlotte, N.C.

November 13, 2012

“The same system of laws that made it possible for my great-great grandmother to be sold into slavery later made it possible for me to gain a strong education and five generations later to be the mayor of the largest city in North Carolina. As a profession, we cannot take that legacy for granted. I wish for you that you will accept not only the privilege of being a lawyer but the responsibility to help our nation and world grapple with the challenges of the moment.”

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U.S. Transportation Secretary Foxx spoke with Elon Law students for a second time on Aug. 5, 2015. Learn more.

Turow SpeakingScott Turow

Acclaimed writer and attorney

October 13, 2010

“[Americans] see positive potential in the law and they see in the law something that the market does not give them. I think the reason people are interested in the law has to do with the pivotal role it plays in society in determining questions of value.”

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Totenberg SpeakingNina Totenberg

National Public Radio legal affairs correspondent

March 16, 2010

“Republicans are stalling on [judicial] nominees whether they are controversial or not… And the Democrats haven’t pushed it…and the people who are paying the price for this are litigants and the judicial system. For all the judges I know of both parties, the behavior of both parties in this is frankly confounding.”

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Ford HeadshotHarold Ford, Jr.

Chairman, Democratic Leadership Council, and Member of Congress, 1997-2007

November 5, 2009

“The willingness to recognize when you’re right, and the courage to say when you’re wrong and correct it, in so many ways that’s the true test of leadership. If there was ever a time in which the kind of leadership that has defined America’s greatness since our inception was needed, that time is now.”

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Booker SpeakingCory Booker

Mayor, Newark, N.J.

February 3, 2009

“Will we take ownership of our nation? Will we not look for blame but accept responsibility? This is our challenge – this is the test of this fledgling democracy still in its youth. Can it be bold enough, rich enough and inclusive enough to fulfill the dreams of our ancestors?”

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McCullough HeadshotDavid McCullough

Pulitzer Prize-winning author and historian

October 22, 2008

“You can’t just be an idle spectator… you can’t just sit back and watch.”

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Toobin SpeakingJeffrey Toobin

CNN legal analyst, journalist, author

September 22, 2008

“What was it that changed about the Court after 2000? Justice O’Connor changed. She moved to the left because she saw that George W. Bush, the president that she put in office with her vote in Bush v. Gore, was not the kind of president she thought he was going to be.”

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Hunt Speaking PhotoJim Hunt

North Carolina Governor, 1977-1985, 1993-2001

April 29, 2008

“Leadership is about moving ahead and improving other people’s lives.”

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Melvin SpeakingJim Melvin

Bryan Foundation President
Former Mayor of Greensboro

March 7, 2008

“If you have a good idea, people want to be part of something exciting. They want to make a difference.”

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McElveen-Hunter PhotoBonnie McElveen-Hunter

Former United States Ambassador to Finland

February 20, 2008

“An organization’s success, or lack thereof, has everything to do with leadership. Leadership filters down a lot faster than it filters up.”

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Wos PhotoAldona Wos

Former United States Ambassador to Estonia

November 5, 2007

“You have to be driven in a direction of seeking excellence and driven in a direction of helping other people.”

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Frye HeadshotHenry E. Frye

Former Chief Justice, N.C. Supreme Court

October 8, 2007

“You’ve got to tell the truth. If you’re going to lead, you’ve got to be worthy of leadership. You’ve got to be a person of your word.”

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Gergen Speaking PhotoDavid R. Gergen

Presidential adviser, scholar, author

September 27, 2007

“More and more people are beginning to understand that leadership is not a top-down kind of ‘do this, do this, do this.’ Leadership today is much more about drawing the best out of people who are in your group.”

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