More than 80 current and prospective law students attended the fourth annual Diversity Day at Elon Law on February 26. Prospective students were able to learn more about what it takes to be admitted and to succeed in law school and about the opportunities that lawyers have to serve society throughout their careers.
Following a welcome from Dean George Johnson, Dr. Julianne Malveaux, president of Bennett College for Women, spoke on the need for change in the realm of education and economics. She said that laws created to improve education have not reach their potential, focusing on inner-city schools.
“The laws have been insufficient to deal with the segregation that exists and is prevalent in inner-city schools,” Maleveaux explained.
Malveaux shared stories of her own life and experience with segregation in school and how the idea of “with all deliberate speed” often meant “take your sweet time” in the south.
“There are people my age who experienced segregated education,“ Malveaux said, “because of ‘all deliberate speed.’”
She challenged prospective law students to not take their “sweet time” in the future and instead take steps to “level the playing field” in both education and the economy in order to achieve the equality that civil rights activists like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., envisioned for the country.
She quoted Dr. King, saying that “people everywhere should have freedom over their bodies, education for their minds, and peace and freedom for their spirits,” and how that can be accomplished by putting the idea of “leveling the playing field” at the forefront of public policy. “I leave that to you,” Malveaux told the prospective students.
Along with Dr. Malveaux’s presentation, Diversity Day participants heard from a judicial panel, “The Journey: Advancing from College to Law School to the Bench.” The panel consisted of The Honorable Sue Burch, District Court Judge for the 18th Judicial District, The Honorable L. Todd Burke, Superior Court Judge for the 21st Judicial District, and The Honorable A. Leon Stanback, Jr., Superior Court Judge for the 14th Judicial District. Third year student Tiffany Atkins moderated the panel.
“Prepare. Whatever you do, make sure you are prepared for any battle that you are involved in,” Judge Stanback told prospective students. “Preparation wins cases.”
Following the judicial panel was an attorney panel, “Why I Love Being a Lawyer!” The panel, which was moderated by attorney Harriett Smalls from Smith Moore Leatherwood, included local attorneys Kenneth A. Free, Jr., of Knight & Free, PLLC, Elon Law alumna Miriam Heard, staff attorney for Legal Aid of North Carolina, Vikram Kapil, a solo practitioner, Frankie T. Jones, Jr., of Smith Moore Leatherwood, Brian Tomlin, from Higgins Benjamin Eagles & Adams, PLLC, and Michelle Wright, a guardian ad litem for Guilford County.
All of the attorneys on the panel discussed how they enjoyed the challenge of being a lawyer.
“What I like most about being a lawyer,” Kapil explained, “is that the law teaches you have to think differently, it draws on your experience and that keeps things challenging.”
After lunch, Diversity Day participants sat in on a mock civil procedure class, taught by associate professor of law and Jennings Scholar, Eric Fink. Then, prospective law students heard from a law student panel, “A Day in the Life of a Law Student.” Elon Law students Raleigh Lancaster, Josue Lopez, Jonathan Metcalf, Michelle Vincler, Daniel Nicotera, and moderator Hasina Lewis, explained to the Diversity Day participants what a typical day was like for them and what prospective students should expect when they start law school.
Diversity Day concluded with an admissions officers’ panel, “Chart Your Path: Gain Admission to Law School,” moderated by Elon Law Associate Dean for Admissions Sharon Gaskin. Admissions officers from law schools across the region participated through the event‘s law school admissions fair. Diversity Day participants were told that preparing for the LSAT is the equivalent to taking a three-credit hour course and they need to “practice, practice, practice.”
Black Law Students Association members helped put together the fourth annual Diversity Day. Gwendolyn Lewis served as Diversity Day Chair; leadership fellow Karima Grady introduced the judicial panel; BLSA president Tiffany Gray introduced the attorney panel; first year student Eddie Holder introduced Professor Fink before the mock law class; and SBA president-elect Andrea Davis introduced Dr. Malveaux.
The free event, which is designed primarily for minority students but was open to all who are considering law school, took place at the Elon University School of Law. The event was co-sponsored by Elon University School of Law’s Admissions Department, The Black Law Students Association (BLSA), the Law School Admission Council as part of the DiscoverLaw Month, Kaplan PMBR, and R. Steve Bowden & Associates.
Click here for the event announcement for Diversity Day, including biographical information about keynote speaker Julianne Malveaux.
By Ashley Smith, L’12.