Elon Law’s bold move gains national attention

National and regional news reports about Elon Law’s groundbreaking new curriculum have emphasized the value, experiential focus and pioneering nature of the school’s new approach. 

Announced in October, Elon Law’s new approach will provide all entering students with full-time residencies in practice, experiential learning integrated throughout the curriculum and a four-person professional advising team within a new seven-trimester schedule that reduces tuition and enables students to complete their studies in December following their second year.

The National Law Journal’s article about Elon Law’s new program said the school is, “placing practical training ‘on steroids.’”

“Elon University School of Law is launching a J.D. program [in 2015] that offers full-time residencies led by faculty and allows students to graduate in less than three years at less cost,” the National Law Journal article said.

A North Carolina Lawyers Weekly article titled “Elon curriculum revamp cuts school to 2½ years, boosts experiential learning,” said, “The new curriculum, slated to begin in the fall of 2015, will give students a six-month edge for taking the bar and landing entry level jobs .… In addition to the emphasis on getting students more real-world experience, including ‘labs’ for first year students to be supervised by practicing attorneys, the new curriculum will be paced over seven trimesters, allowing students to graduate in December of their third year and sit for the February bar exam.”

A Greensboro News & Record editorial titled “Elon’s Difference” emphasized a broad set of the law school’s current and future strengths.

“Students will pay less and earn their law degrees faster,” the News & Record editorial said. “Each will participate in a trimester-long legal residency supervised by a faculty member. And each student will be assigned a faculty adviser, attorney mentor, executive coach and career counselor .… The school operates several clinics, giving students practical experience while providing legal help for the public. Most of its faculty members have practiced law in the real world — they’re not just academics. This [new curriculum] will take the concept further by placing second-year students into full-time professional settings, while keeping them connected to campus through related course work.”

A Time Warner Cable News report, titled “Elon Law Curriculum Changes to Bring More Pre-Job Experience, Lower Tuition” focused on the practical training aspects of the new curriculum.

“Major changes are coming to Elon University School of Law in fall 2015,” the report said. “The school will launch a redesigned curriculum aimed at improving learning and graduates’ chances of landing a job. The redesign also will reduce student tuition. Officials said the new curriculum would put students into the practice of law while still in school and develop skills before they getting their first job. Gone will be the days of simply studying the theory of, say, criminal law …. The school will assign each student a four-person professional advising team including a faculty adviser, a working attorney mentor, an executive coach and a career consultant. The academic schedule will be accelerated …. The system will save students money.”

The Winter 2015 edition of the National Jurist features an article with the following title and lead: “Elon’s bold move: It wants to make law school cheaper, faster and better. Grads will get out six months earlier and complete a residency.”

The National Jurist article says that in the context of national enrollment and placement challenges, “the eight-year old school is taking a much bolder approach than most. It wants to get students out of school quicker and cheaper and to better prepare them for their legal careers, and it is making dramatic changes to reach that goal .… The changes are not just focused on graduating students sooner. Elon wants graduates to be as prepared as possible. The school has created a curriculum that will offer ‘a highly sequenced, logical progression of learning,’ [law school dean] Bierman said.”

An October Raleigh News & Observer article featured Elon Law’s new program as a revamp for a new era in legal education.

“Earlier this month, Elon University’s law school in Greensboro announced an entire top-to-bottom redesign of its program,” the News & Observer article said. “Starting next fall, Elon students will complete law school in 2½ years, compared with the traditional three. They will participate in ‘residencies’; gaining contacts and professional experience while in school. And they’ll pay less …. Elon faculty and administrators spent two years ‘reverse engineering’ the law school curriculum, said Luke Bierman, who became dean in June. It was clear, he said, that this was not a time for incremental change. The thinking is this: No longer do students have to spend so much time working through cases and slogging through old-style Socratic method classes. …. ‘We really need to focus on analysis, that judgment – how to use the law, how to counsel people,’ Bierman said. ‘We think the best way to get students prepared to do that is to give them experience doing it.’ The changes mirror recommendations in a January report from an American Bar Association Task Force, which called for more innovation, experimentation and skills training at U.S. law schools, as well as rethinking the price structure. The emphasis on experiential learning may give Elon students a leg up in their job search. While in school, they’ll be surrounded by a four-member professional advising team – a faculty adviser, a practicing attorney mentor, an executive coach and a career consultant.”

An October 9 Triad Business Journal article titled “Elon Law to reduce cost, length of law school while boosting real-world experience,” focused on the value presented to prospective students.

“Elon University School of Law on Thursday announced a sweeping overhaul of its curriculum that it says will give students more experience with the practice of law while getting them through the program faster and at a lower cost,” the article said. “The changes that will come with the start of next year’s class include a $14,000 reduction in total tuition, with a rate that will be locked in for the duration of a student’s tenure at the law school. Law students will finish the program in 2.5 years compared to the traditional three, which would put them on a path to pass the bar exam around the same time their peers receiving their law degrees. And within its overhauled curriculum, Elon Law is further integrating experiential education that will put students in law practices and side-by-side with practicing attorneys during the semester. Key to that plan is a new system of full-time, faculty directed residencies in the practice of law completed during the academic year.”

Elon Law’s new curriculum is designed to better position students to excel in the rapidly evolving legal profession. In keeping with the school’s original vision to be a pioneering “law school with a difference,” the new curriculum will be highly experiential, personalized and professionally connected – hallmarks of Elon University’s nationally recognized programs of engaged learning. With this new program, Elon Law will provide leadership for the major changes taking place in legal education.

More information about Elon Law’s new curriculum and the school’s application process is available here.