The 2016 edition of U.S. News & World Report's Best Grad Schools publication includes a cover story that features Elon Law’s new curriculum as one of the most far-reaching innovations in American legal education.
The U.S. News & World Report article focuses on law school innovations that are responsive to changing dynamics in law and legal education. The article introduces reporting about Elon Law by noting that some law schools have “borrowed a page from medicine to incorporate clinical rotations or ‘residencies.’”
“In one of the most radical reforms, Elon University School of Law in North Carolina will introduce a complete overhaul of its curriculum this year,” the U.S. News & World Report article states. “The program will shift to trimesters so students graduate in two and a half years and can prep for the February bar exam and enter the job market in the spring. The new curriculum is much more intentionally sequenced; shadowing a litigator leads to participation in moot court and then to a residency with a trial and appellate practice firm, for example.”
Luke Bierman, dean and professor of law, Elon University School of Law[/caption]Luke Bierman, dean and professor of law at Elon University School of Law, is quoted in the U.S. News & World Report article, describing the strategic sequence of courses and hands-on practical experiences in the school’s new curriculum.
“The real innovation here was to take legal education and make it logically progressive,” Bierman states in the article. “We want to make sure students learn each part before they move on.”
The online version of the U.S News & World Report article notes that Elon Law lowered tuition by 12 percent and guaranteed that tuition will not increase for the entering class of 2017. The print version describes a variety of Elon Law innovations.
“First-year [Elon Law] students will be assigned an advising team for the duration, including a leadership coach, career development consultant, faculty adviser and a mentor working in their field of interest who will observe them in class and provide feedback on their performance,” the U.S. News article states. “One-Ls also shadow their mentor for several days. Introductory classes like criminal and property law will be bolstered by labs in which students observe or engage in a simulated plea deal and draft deeds, say. One full trimester will be spent in a residency, working in a firm, corporate counsel office or judge’s chambers, for example. The last trimester will consist of ‘bridge-to-practice’ classes that might simulate a divorce proceeding in which students negotiate, draft motions and argue child custody issues.”
Elon Law’s new curriculum provides a sequence of courses and legal practice experiences over seven trimesters, enabling students to graduate in 2.5 years with lower tuition and costs of living.[/caption]Highlights of Elon Law’s new approach to legal education include:
- the first law school to ensure that all students will benefit from full-time, course-connected residencies in the practice of law;
- engagement with practicing attorneys and the hands-on practice of law from day one to graduation, through lab courses, an attorney mentor program, team-based legal projects for nonprofits, residencies, bridge-to-practice courses and other courses and programs;
- four-member Student Success Teams that work individually with each student to identify courses, experiences in law practice and post-graduate career opportunities in their areas of interest;
- a seven trimester, 2.5 year curriculum that reduces tuition, lowers costs during law school and enables students to begin their careers earlier than traditional law school programs.