Elon Law students take on real-world problem solving

Elon Law’s second-year law students recently helped three nonprofit organizations with legal matters involving urban development, alternative transportation and organizational management.  

Elon Law students discuss laws that would affect an urban bike share project with nonprofit and government officials as part of the Law School's 2016 Public Law & Leadership course.  
The Public Law & Leadership course is a signature component of Elon Law’s curriculum, providing all second-year students with practical experience working with clients to address real-world challenges. The course enables Elon Law students to hone business and professional skills while furthering their legal knowledge and helping nonprofit organizations.

Elon Law student Mallory Holmes assisted the Out of the Garden Project, a food assistance initiative serving children and families in central North Carolina.

“Being able to provide legal help to the Triad’s largest organization feeding hungry children was very rewarding to say the least,” Holmes said. “It is something I would not have been able to do if I attended any other law school. Knowing my work ensured this organization’s continued success in the community left me with a sense of pride and accomplishment.”

Holmes worked in a team of second-year law students to develop recommendations for the Out of the Garden Project in areas of real estate law, labor law and corporate governance. 

Law student Joy Saunders worked with a team of peers to assist the community revitalization entity East Market Street Development Corporation (EMSDC).

“I valued the practical experience I gained working with a team under a strict schedule, working with clients to advise them on the issues, researching an unfamiliar topic and composing a memorandum to share our findings,” Saunders said. 

Saunders and other Elon Law students helped EMSDC to identify origins and advise on the impacts of railway easements along an urban corridor in downtown Greensboro, North Carolina. EMSDC said clarification of property rights in this corridor was a critical step in efforts to promote investment in local businesses and revitalize an historic anchor of commerce in a key area of Greensboro.

A third group of Elon Law students examined legal matters related to a potential bike share project in Greensboro. Nonprofit organizations Action Greensboro and Bicycling In Greensboro asked Elon Law students to research city and state regulations that would affect a bike share program and to recommend strategies to implement such a program in the context of those regulations.

“The Elon Law students that we worked with were enthusiastic, dedicated and helpful to the Greensboro bike share project,” said Dabney Sanders, project manager for Greensboro’s Downtown Greenway and the Action Greensboro lead in evaluating the feasibility of a bike share project for the city. “We really valued their research as well as their personal interest in the project. The legwork they did will help us move this project forward in a more timely and efficient way.”

Students in Elon Law’s Public Law & Leadership course used skills in client interviewing, legal research, communications and team leadership to develop memoranda and presentations for partnering organizations.

“The Public Law and Leadership course allowed me to hone my skills in interviewing and interacting with clients,” said Elon Law student Christian McCullen. “It also required me to prepare a work product that would be expected of associates in an actual law firm.”

Each year at the conclusion of the course, leaders from partnering nonprofit organizations in conjunction with coaches and faculty partners select the student teams they felt provided the best memorandum and presentation.

The team recognized for the best memorandum in the 2016 Public Law & Leadership course included the following Elon Law students: Annette Faw, Jonathan Holt, Laura Janke, Chelsea Jarvis, Danielle Prongay, Hailey Reall, Ebony Vincent and Spencer Warren.

The team recognized for the best presentation in the 2016 Public Law & Leadership course included the following Elon Law students: Jackson Barnes, Keirah Carmichael, Sharon Dunmore, Ryan Glaser, Paige McElravy, Timberley Motsinger and Abigail Seymour.

The Public Law & Leadership course was taught this year by Faith Rivers James, associate dean for experiential learning and leadership, and professor of law. Rivers James developed the course at Elon Law in 2008. It has been taught at Elon Law since then for eight consecutive years.

Rivers James expressed appreciation for the significant contributions of the following lawyers, scholars and nonprofit leaders to the success of the course.

Executive Leadership Coaches & Faculty Partners

  • John Alexander, principal, Leadership Horizons, Inc.
  • Charles Blackmon, partner, Tuggle Duggins P.A.
  • Kim Gatling, partner, Smith Moore Leatherwood LLP
  • Erika Lopina, assistant professor of psychology, Elon University
  • Bonnie McAlister, executive coach in residence emeritus, Elon Law
  • Douglas Wright, attorney, Douglas E. Wright Attorney and Counselor at Law

Client Partners       

  • Phil Barnhill, director of operations, East Market Street Development
  • Chandler Hagen, executive director. Bicycling in Greensboro
  • Hillary Meredith, synerG director, Action Greensboro
  • Don Milholin, co-founder, Out of the Garden Project
  • Mac Sims, president, East Market Street Development
  • Dabney Sanders, Downtown Greenway project manager, Action Greensboro     

Elon Law faculty leads for the course

  • Faith Rivers James, associate dean for experiential learning and leadership, and professor of law, Elon Law
  • Chris Leupold, associate professor of psychology and faculty fellow for law and leadership, Elon University/Elon Law

Elon Law’s Leadership Program is the recipient of the American Bar Association’s top national award for excellence in legal professionalism programming, the E. Smythe Gambrell Professionalism Award (2013).

More information about Elon Law’s Public Law & Leadership course is available here. 

The Leadership Program is part of Elon Law’s groundbreaking curriculum, featuring a strategic sequence of experiential learning that is integrated, iterative and immersive.