A welcome to Elon Law’s Class of 2021

The second-largest class in Elon Law history is also its most diverse, with more than half of new students hailing from outside of North Carolina and nearly a third who identify as students of color.

Dean Luke Bierman

Senior Associate Dean Alan Woodlief

Elon Law administrators formally welcomed the Class of 2021 in a Wednesday morning program inside the law school’s library where new students learned more about the peers with whom they will be studying over the next two and a half years.

And there’s a lot to learn about Elon Law’s 148 newest students. For example:

  • Ten have already earned graduate degrees in fields such as education, business, and international law;
  • At least five are Eagle Scouts;
  • Five have already served in the armed forces;
  • Four have served the nation through AmeriCorps;
  • The class includes a former NFL player, a professional tennis player ranked in the top-50 in the United States, and an accomplished competitive clay shooter;
  • Many have studied abroad in locations such as Austria, Canada, Japan, England, Ireland, Italy, France, Norway, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Mexico, Cuba, and Belgium;
  • And many have reported working in law-related fields with previous positions in law enforcement, District Attorney offices, U.S. Attorney offices, Public Defender offices, and City Attorney offices.

“Learning by doing is what we are about, and you know that. You are the fifth class to enter Elon Law under our curriculum that is designed and focussed on learning by doing and the 14th class overall to enter Elon Law,”  Elon Law Dean Luke Bierman said in his welcoming remarks inside the Elon Law library. “According to national studies, 40 percent of you decided to go to law school before you went to college, so you’ve been thinking about this for a while. 

Professor Steve Friedland led one of the small-group discussions on “Just Mercy” by attorney Bryan Stevenson, Elon Law’s 2019 common reading selection.

“You are going to do things here that no other law students in America do – and you already have.”

The morning welcome on Aug. 7, 2019, brought the Class of 2021 together for the first time during a week of orientation activities that include a Convocation program on Elon University’s main campus and a day of service known as “Elon Law Reaches Out.”

The welcoming remarks preceded Elon Law faculty-led book discussions around the campus where small groups shared their observations and insights into the law school’s 2019 common reading selection, “Just Mercy,” by attorney Bryan Stevenson.

Among other events planned for the class during its first week were presentations on filing expunction petitions led by attorneys from Legal Aid of North Carolina and tours of the federal courthouse in downtown Greensboro, all in keeping with the law school’s focus on experiential education. Later in the week, students were scheduled to gather for a networking tailgate prior to a Greensboro Grasshoppers ball game. 

At Elon Law, students graduate in 2.5 years, saving time and money with the opportunity for students to take the bar exam in February and get a head start on their careers. Experiential learning is anchored by a full-time, course-connected residency in the practice of law during the second year of study.

Alan Woodlief, senior associate dean for admissions, administration & finance and an associate professor of law, shared details about the second-largest class, and one of the most diverse, to enroll at Elon Law since the school opened in 2006. Among the characteristics:

– 62 percent are female / 38 percent are male
– 30 percent are self-identified students of color
– 47 percent list North Carolina as their permanent residence
– 53 percent hail from 21 states outside of North Carolina – the most out-of-state students ever in an entering class. The states with the highest representation in the class:

  • Virginia: 20
  • South Carolina: 11
  • Florida: 6 
  • Georgia: 5
  • Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania: 4 each 
  • Alabama, Illinois and Ohio: 3 each

– The Class of 2021 graduated from 83 colleges and universities from around the nation. The most represented institutions are:

  • University of North Carolina at Charlotte: 9 
  • University of South Carolina at Columbia: 8 
  • Virginia Tech: 7 
  • North Carolina State University and UNC Greensboro: 6
  • UNC Chapel Hill and Appalachian State: 5
  • Elon University and East Carolina University: 4 
  • Guilford College and Virginia Commonwealth: 3  

Several prominent historically black colleges and universities are represented, including North Carolina A&T, North Carolina Central University, Fayetteville State University, Spelman College and Winston-Salem State University.

Other institutions represented in the class include Harvard University, the University of Virginia, Wake Forest University, the College of William & Mary, Villanova University, the University of Wisconsin, and the University of Hawaii, among many others.

Thirty-five majors are represented within the class. The most popular:

  • Political Science:  34 
  • Criminal Justice or Criminology: 14
  • Psychology: 13
  • Business (or related field): 12
  • English: 11
  • Humanities: 6
  • Sociology: 5
  • Liberal Arts, History and Philosophy: 4 each  

“To be sure, this is just a partial list of all of your accomplishments, and we look forward to getting to know you and learning more about your backgrounds,” Woodlief said. “And we look forward to witnessing firsthand your accomplishments to come – over the next two and a half years and throughout your careers as Elon Law lawyers – as you channel this energy, focus, and commitment to excellence and service in your new chosen profession as pioneering lawyer leaders.”