Learning inside a federal district court 

In the latest in a series of profiles of Elon Law students completing their residencies-in-practice, Logan DeHart L’19 shares what he discovered about the law while working full-time this winter in Charlotte at the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina.

Logan DeHart L'19
Logan DeHart has known since the age of 13 that he wanted to be a lawyer. What he didn’t know was that his path to the legal profession would include an experiential learning stint in the chambers of a federal judge.

The native of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, recently concluded a 10-week, full-time residency-in-practice with Chief Judge Frank Whitney of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina. DeHart’s work in downtown Charlotte afforded him the opportunity to observe a variety of litigation tactics that may not have otherwise been possible.

Now in his final year of study at Elon Law, DeHart has been active with the law school’s First Generations Legal Professionals & Allies, its Moot Court Board, and the Intellectual Property Society as he pursues a career in intellectual property.

DeHart, who studied philosophy and pre-law at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, is the latest to be featured in an occasional series of profiles on Elon Law students in the Class of 2019 completing their residencies in recent months. He answered questions recently about the learning experience.

What inspired you to pursue a legal education?

“I first wanted to be a lawyer when I was 13 years old. Though I took many detours along the path, my family has always supported and encouraged me to go to law school, even when I was switching majors to philosophy. The number one inspiration for me is to make my family proud.”

What responsibilities were you assigned as part of your residency and how did your classes prepare you for those tasks?

“I was tasked, alongside the judicial law clerks, with assisting the chief judge prepare for orders, hearings and trials. My Legal Methods & Communication, Evidence, and Civil Procedure classes were all great preparation for being in his chambers as there was a constant need for good legal writing and the proper observation of procedure.”

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

“Working in Chief Judge Whitney's chambers reaffirmed that the legal field is exactly what I want to do in my life. Dealing with real cases that affect people’s lives showed me the true meaning of being a lawyer. My residency exposed me to many different practice areas of law and while it created some murkiness as to what exact practice area I desire to work in, it has given me invaluable exposure and experience to many different facets of law.”

What’s one thing you learned during your residency that you don’t think would have happened solely by attending class?

“One of the biggest experiences gained from my judicial residency is courtroom experience. The ability to witness attorneys argue a motion for summary judgment or put on a trial is something that is difficult to gain in an academic setting. I also was exposed to many different styles and tactics that would be difficult to gain from experience in a classroom. Being given the opportunity to witness the difference between good attorneys and great attorneys motivated me to work hard to sharpen my oratory skills.”

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

“Getting back into an 8-5 Monday through Friday groove reminded me how important a routine schedule is for my mental health. After returning from my residency, when I can, I plan to treat school similar to a traditional work week.”

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.