Elon Law awarded grant for ‘breaking down barriers’

With funding from AccessLex Institute, Elon Law will conduct research on new and emerging programs aimed at supporting students in the classroom and on the bar exam.

Elon University School of Law has received a grant from AccessLex Institute to identify obstacles to student achievement and determine whether its approaches to helping students can be replicated elsewhere with success.

The Elon Law Breaking Down Barriers Project aims to improve access, affordability and value for all students with an added emphasis on historically underrepresented students and students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

A committee to be appointed by Elon Law Dean Luke Bierman will identify barriers to student success and first-time bar passage. It will explore factors like undergraduate credentials, age, race, gender, socio-economic status, geographical background, cultural traditions and family structure, then identify two interventions to promote academic and bar exam performance.

Potential interventions for further study are Elon Law’s “Learning Excellence Applied Personally (LEAP)” and Bar Mentorship programs.

First-year students in the LEAP program are grouped with second- and third-year students who serve as Academic Fellows and mentors. LEAP aims to help students acclimate to a new environment by addressing success barriers including transitioning from undergraduate life, workforce life, or family life to a professional school.

The Bar Mentorship program matches bar exam takers with an alum, faculty, or staff mentor that provides guidance through the bar study process. The mentors are selected based on similarities to the bar exam taker.

Once interventions are identified by the committee, Elon Law, with assistance from AccessLex, will create a detailed assessment plan to collect data and evaluate the effectiveness of its programs. Results of that analysis and collection should be finalized by the end of 2021.

AccessLex previously funded a three-year study of Elon Law’s accelerated curriculum. A report finalized in late 2019 assessed the impact of the law school’s move to a 2.5-year program that addresses what Bierman has described as common criticisms of legal education: cost, length, and relevance to the profession.

“I’m delighted to partner again with AccessLex to assess Elon Law’s innovative approach to legal education and our focus on helping students achieve their academic and career goals,” Bierman said. “Expanding access to legal education, ensuring more diversity in the profession, and promoting the value of a law degree at a time when young people are rightly focused on costs and student loan debt is something every law school should prioritize. AccessLex Institute’s investment in this project demonstrates that Elon Law is among those leading a national conversation on these important topics.”

About AccessLex Institute

AccessLex Institute is a nonprofit organization committed to helping talented, purpose-driven students find their path from aspiring lawyer to fulfilled professional. In partnership with its nearly 200 member law schools, improving access and positively influencing legal education have been at the heart of the company’s mission since 1983. AccessLex Institute has offices in West Chester, Pa., and Washington, D.C., with a team of accredited financial education counselors based throughout the United States. Learn more at AccessLex.org.

About Elon Law

Elon University School of Law in Greensboro, North Carolina, provides a distinctive approach to legal education through its unique emphasis on learning by doing. 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 has reduced student debt at graduation and permitted graduates early entry into their legal careers.