N.C.’s top jurist to deliver Elon Law Commencement address

Students in the Class of December 2017 will celebrate the completion of their legal education with a ceremony highlighted by remarks from Chief Justice Mark Martin of the Supreme Court of North Carolina.

Supreme Court of North Carolina Chief Justice Mark Martin will deliver the Commencement address to Elon Law’s Class of December 2017.

Supreme Court of North Carolina Chief Justice Mark Martin will deliver Elon Law’s Commencement address in December as the university graduates its first class enrolled in a 2.5-year program defined by an emphasis on experiential learning and practical training.

Commencement takes place Saturday, Dec. 16, at 11 a.m. inside Elon University’s Alumni Gym.

Martin, the state’s 28th chief justice and the only active jurist on the North Carolina Supreme Court whose legal career includes service on the state’s Court of Appeals and Superior Court, has authored hundreds of appellate decisions and participated in thousands of fully briefed and argued cases during his two decades on the appellate courts.

His distinguished career has focused on making improvements to the rule of law and the administration of justice, themes that have been emphasized to the first class enrolled in Elon Law’s new curriculum.

“The Class of December 2017 leaves a pioneering legacy as the first Elon Law students to complete an innovative curriculum designed to prepare them for the practice of law today,” said Elon Law Dean Luke Bierman. “It is only fitting that Chief Justice Martin address the class with insights gleaned from his own journey as a North Carolina legal pioneer.

“Chief Justice Martin is a tireless advocate for improving both the quality of our courts, and the ability for people of all backgrounds to access legal services. I can think of no better legal leader to conclude our students’ education than with parting wisdom from such a distinguished jurist and friend of Elon Law.”

When Martin was elected and installed to fill an open seat on the Supreme Court in 1998 at the age 35, he became the youngest Supreme Court justice in North Carolina history. He previously served on the Court of Appeals beginning in 1994, and as Resident Superior Court Judge in Greenville from 1992 to 1994.

Prior to his judicial service, Martin served as legal counsel to Gov. James G. Martin (no relation) and practiced law at the McNair Law Firm in Raleigh. He also clerked for U.S. District Judge Clyde H. Hamilton.

Highly respected by the legal profession, Martin has served in a number of leadership roles within the North Carolina Bar Association, including as its vice president, and as a member of its Litigation Section Council, Judicial Independence Committee and Strategic Planning and Emerging Trends Committee.

Most recently, he convened the North Carolina Commission on the Administration of Law and Justice, which conducted a comprehensive evaluation of the state’s judicial system before making recommendations for strengthening the courts within the existing administrative framework.

Martin currently serves on the Conference of Chief Justices’ Board of Directors and as chair of the Professionalism and Confidence of the Bar Committee. He has previously served as chair of the ABA Judicial Division, the ABA Appellate Judges Conference, and the Appellate Judges Education Institute. In November 2011, Martin was inducted into the Warren E. Burger Society of the National Center for State Courts.

Martin’s longtime commitment to strengthening the court system and the legal profession earned him Elon Law’s 2014 Leadership in the Law Award, the school’s highest professional honor.

Martin graduated Summa Cum Laude from Western Carolina University and received his Juris Doctor with honors at the UNC Chapel Hill School of Law. He later attended the University of Virginia where he earned a Master of Laws in Judicial Process. Martin is married to Kym Lake Martin, executive director of the N.C. Center for Safer Schools, and is the proud father of five children.

About Elon Law:

Elon University School of Law in Greensboro, North Carolina, is the preeminent school for engaged and experiential learning in law. It integrates traditional classroom instruction with highly experiential full-time residencies-in-practice in a logically sequenced program of transformational professional preparation. Elon Law’s groundbreaking approach is accomplished in 2.5 years, which provides distinctive value by lowering tuition and permitting graduates early entry into their professional careers.

For more information, visit law.elon.edu.