Elon Law students earn national recognition for diversity initiative

The American Bar Association Center for Racial and Ethnic Diversity and the ABA Young Lawyers Division announced on May 17 that Elon Law’s student-led Diversity Week won first place in the annual Next Steps Diversity Challenge.

Student leaders of Diversity Week at Elon Law, from left, Pedro Mantilla L'14, Braxton Medlin L'16 and Lani Wright L'15.
Student leaders of Diversity Week at Elon Law, from left, Pedro Mantilla L’14, Braxton Medlin L’16 and Lani Wright L’15.[/caption]The Next Steps Diversity Challenge encourages law school leaders, including law students, to start or strengthen programs that increase diversity in the educational pipeline to the legal profession.

Elon Law students Pedro Mantilla L’14, Braxton Medlin L’16 and Lani Wright L’15 were instrumental in creating and implementing Diversity Week. They also developed and submitted the proposal for Diversity Week to be considered for the Next Steps Diversity Challenge award.

“The main purpose of Diversity Week is to unite all of the individuals in the Elon Law community as one, and to really appreciate and celebrate our differences and what makes our law community great,” the Elon Law students’ proposal to the ABA said.

Diversity Week at Elon Law, held in March 2014, was comprised of educational events for law school community members to learn about issues faced by persons of different races, genders, religions, classes, sexual orientations and abilities. Programming included a Moot Court Board presentation about the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case Brown vs. Board of Education, a “Hot Topics” debate about school vouchers, featuring Elon Law professors Scott Gaylord and Andy Haile, and a “Bite of Culture” potluck lunch in which members of the law school community shared meals reflective of their home cultures.

“Elon Law is receiving the national acknowledgment it deserves when it comes to our programming and dedication to our community,” said Mantilla. “It was truly an honor to receive this award in Pittsburgh over the weekend, especially considering we were able to do so in front of two Elon Law alumni – Collin Cooper L’12 and David Morrow L’10 – who are both in leadership roles within the ABA Young Lawyers Division. We are glad to be able to bring back the $1,500 awarded to reinvest in next year’s Diversity Week.”

The Elon Law Community Council, comprised of students, faculty and staff of the law school, sponsored Diversity Week in partnership with the Student Bar Association, the Women’s Law Association, the Moot Court Board and the Office of Student Affairs at Elon Law.