One hundred and thirty students, representing 59 undergraduate institutions, 30 majors, 18 states, a foreign country, and an array of professional backgrounds, have joined Elon Law as the Class of 2014. The university welcomed the class through a convocation ceremony featuring remarks by James G. Exum, Jr., former chief justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court and distinguished jurist in residence at Elon Law.
Exum, a founding member of Elon’s national law school advisory board and leader of the Appellate Practice Group at Smith Moore Leatherwood LLP, delivered remarks entitled, “Lawyerly Rites of Passage.”
“Your journey begins now,” Exum said. “As a law student, you are a professional. Your conduct, your work habits, your deportment, your relationship with your fellow students, faculty and administration should all reflect that professionalism.”
Exum said that habits formed in law school tend to be habits that mark one’s practice as a lawyer. He urged members of the Class of 2014 to prepare well for classes, learn to read, understand and inwardly digest cases, rules and principles of law, and form good relationships with peers.
“The most important attribute of a lawyer’s professionalism is honesty and integrity,” Exum said. “The best weapon any advocate can have is a reputation for scrupulous honesty in all professional dealings and representations. That alone will carry you a long way to success in our profession.”
Reflecting on Exum’s remarks, Babak Zarin, a member of the class and a graduate of St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland, said he felt more confident in his choice to enter the profession and to earn his law degree at Elon.
“I had a very strong emphasis on ethical action growing up, and so to be told from someone of high authority and a very strong reputation, ‘guess what, that’s expected of you now, forever,’ only reaffirmed that I must have made the right decision, because I am already in sync with that aspect of the culture going in,” Zarin said.
In welcoming remarks, law school dean George R. Johnson, Jr., encouraged students to take on the great challenges facing society.
“You begin your careers at one of the most challenging periods in the history of our profession, our country, our world,” Johnson said. “But lawyers are bred for challenges. Indeed we thrive on them, and there will be many challenges and opportunities to engage you if you prepare yourself to meet them … So what I hope law school, this law school especially, will encourage you to do, is to make yourself indispensable to confronting and mediating the challenges we face and improving the communities in which we live and work.”
Steven D. House, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Elon University, shared with students the mission of Elon and the university’s hopes for their success.
“Elon was founded in 1889 and its core values have remained constant throughout its history: a close personal relationship between the faculty and the students, a culture that supports constant innovation, and a strong sense of community,” House said. “Our hope for you in the three years that you will be at Elon is that you will become independent, self-directed learners, that you will put serious and consistent effort into your studies, that your passion and curiosity about learning will be contagious, and that you will continuously reflect and evaluate on your own progress in this great learning adventure.”
Andrea Davis, president of the Student Bar Association at Elon Law, also welcomed the class.
“The students are here to help you. Ask us if you have questions,” Davis said. “The faculty are here to share their knowledge and experience with you … The administration and staff are here to help you succeed … Take advantage of every opportunity that you get. Each opportunity is a chance to increase your skill, your experience, your confidence, and to take you a step closer on your path toward graduation.”
Orientation for first-year students at Elon Law took place throughout the week of August 15. Among a variety of activities, the orientation schedule included small group discussions with alumni, social gatherings and events outside the law school with faculty members, meetings with leaders of the American Bar Association and the North Carolina Bar Association, and introductions by faculty to some of the key dimensions of law, legal education, and coursework at Elon.
Elon University President Leo M. Lambert hosted a reception for the entering class of the law school on August 16, welcoming all members of the class as part of the larger Elon community.
“The law school and the main campus are knitted together in pursuit of your success,” Lambert said.
Steven Warren, a member of the Class of 2014 and a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Wilmington said the week had been helpful in easing the transition into law school.
“I’m glad that there was a week of orientation instead of jumping right into class,” Warren said. “Everybody I have met has been really nice. The LEAFS [law student advisers to first-year students] were really very friendly and very helpful, as were the faculty and administration. It feels like they’re behind us every step of the way.”