A hands-on approach to learning real estate law

Helen Tsiolkas recently completed a legal residency-in-practice with The Carroll Companies, one of the region's largest real estate developers. She shared insights of her experience for the latest profile in an occasional series of stories on residency placements for Elon Law's Class of 2018.

If you want to practice real estate law, it helps to learn the craft from attorneys at one of the region’s largest real estate developers.

Helen Tsiolkas L’18 applied to Elon Law after graduating from UNC Chapel Hill with a degree in history and working for a short time as a real estate broker before shifting her career ambitions.

Elon Law students complete a legal residency-in-practice during their second year of study. Tsiolkas, a Winston-Salem native and current editor in chief of the Elon Law Review, excelled in her 10-week residency earlier this year with The Carroll Companies, a multibillion dollar firm headquartered in Greensboro a block from Elon Law.

Her residency supervisor? Adam Fisher L’13, an Elon Law alumnus now working as corporate counsel for The Carroll Companies.

Tsiolkas “always wanted to be in a field where I could be challenged intellectually but also help others” and answered questions recently about her residency experience.

What responsibilities were you assigned as part of your residency?

On the business side, I drafted articles of organization, operating agreements, and resolutions for various companies. I was responsible for contract review, analysis, and legal research on any related issues. On the property side, I assisted with title review and analysis, lien agent filings, and drafting notices of contract and lien waivers.

How did your residency reinforce your career goals or channel them in a new direction?

Working in an in-house setting gave me the opportunity to see how different departments within a large company collaborate toward a common goal. My previous work experience had been in a traditional legal environment, focusing on one client and their needs. I now work for a company, as opposed to an individual client, but have had the chance to be exposed to countless areas of law for any given project.

Share one thing you’ve learned during your residency that you don’t think would have happened solely by attending class.

My residency helped me assess and reflect on my own performance. Unlike school, I didn’t have the luxury of working on one assignment at a time, so I learned how to more effectively manage multiple time-sensitive projects and prioritize them accordingly. Taking time to reflect on my work practices and consult with others allowed me to develop a system to maximize efficiency and work flow.

In what ways do you predict your approach to classes and bar preparation might change because of your residency?

My residency allowed me to put what I have learned in the classroom into practice, and it taught me to work smarter. I am now able to prioritize and manage my assignments more effectively, which has boosted my confidence and productivity. I hope to continue to engage in more reflective practice as I delve into class and bar preparation.


About Elon Law:

Elon University School of Law in Greensboro, North Carolina, is the preeminent school for engaged and experiential learning in law. With a focus on “learning by doing,” it integrates traditional classroom instruction with course-connected, 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 legal careers.