Elon pre-law students attend Duke law school WLSA open house

Female undergraduates from across the region were invited to the Duke University School of Law on Saturday, Feb. 8.

Eighteen Elon pre-law students attended the first open house hosted by the Women Law Students Association at Duke University School of law Saturday, Feb. 8.

The day-long visit included a mock trial, a class session and ample opportunities for undergraduates considering legal careers to ask questions and explore the paths available to law school graduates.

Those discussions and information panels gave Noor Irshaidat ’20 confidence that she can achieve her goals through earning a law degree.

“My future plans include pursuing a law degree with a focus on international development to enable me to work on attracting and facilitating foreign investment into the Middle East, specifically through sustainable business projects,” Irshaidat said. “One of the students on the student panel had a similar interest, which further solidified my interest.”

Erin Smith ’22 said the event made her feel less intimidated about the law school application process and the rigorous routines of earning a juris doctor degree. Hearing the perspectives of women students helped her solidify plans to spend one to three years working at a law firm after graduation before enrolling in law school — the course many in Duke’s WLSA followed.

“The open house definitely helped me realize that taking some time off is very common and will be more beneficial to me in the end,” Smith said. “It also strengthened my belief that law school is reachable and more accessible than it seems.”

Christine Mullen, president of Duke’s WLSA, said the idea for an all-female open house came from her experiences working at a large legal firm. She noticed that most of the partners were male, but the majority of paralegals, secretaries and others supporting partners’ work were female.

“What I got out of this was that there were women that were interested in the legal profession but not getting their (law degrees),” Mullen said. “I wanted to host this event to encourage women to pursue that J.D. — to come into the law school and meet people like them — to sit in a T14 law classroom and picture themselves occupying that seat as a student. The main goal of the event is to empower women to explore the possibility of getting a J.D. and to help build the confidence needed to apply to law school.”

About 120 women attended Saturday’s open house event, Mullen said.

Elisha Savchak-Trogdon, Elon’s pre-Law coordinator and an assistant professor of political science and policy studies, said the enthusiasm among our students for the event speaks to the need for more exposure and access to law schools — especially for women.

“My job is to get information about opportunities out to students so they can take advantage of them if they want to,” Savchak-Trogdon said. “Our female pre-law students have created a network among themselves. This was an encouraging event, and the language announcing it was encouraging, as well.”

Elon’s Legal Professions program provides guidance to students interested in law school. The pre-law program isn’t a major or minor, instead providing advising in preparation for those interested in pursuing legal careers. It includes access to:

  • a dedicated legal professions advisor to help students on the path to law school;
  • extracurricular and internship opportunities dealing with legal interests; and
  • a community of legal professions students interested in legal issues and law school.

For more information about the program, visit the program’s website.