Associate Dean and Professor Tony Weaver moderated the panel discussion following the official opening of the new Elon University in Charlotte.
When Elon alumnus Mark Jetton ’06 L’09 returned to his hometown of Charlotte as a new attorney, he found a city struggling through a global financial crisis and less-than-fertile ground for recent law school graduates. He arrived in the Queen City as a member of the first graduating class at Elon School of Law, which opened its doors just three years before in 2006.
Today couldn’t be more different, Jetton told those gathered in the new Elon University in Charlotte regional center on Tuesday. At a time when there is more demand for legal talent in the city, more than 130 Elon Law alums are now in the legal field in Mecklenburg County and Elon-educated lawyers are building strong professional reputations for their approach to and knowledge of the law, Jetton said.
“It’s a market that needs lawyers. It’s a market that needs legal minds,” Jetton told those gathered Tuesday in the new Elon University in Charlotte regional center in Charlotte’s South End. “This is so different than it was in 2009. This is a place that is hungry for more legal talent, and it’s going to be so helpful to have this in our backyard.”
The “this” Jetton was referring to is the new Elon Law Flex Program that will be housed in the new regional center, which officially opened Tuesday with a crowd of Elon supporters and community leaders who gathered for a news conference and panel discussion featuring Jetton, founding and managing partner of the Jetton & Meredith law firm and other Elon alumni living in the Queen City.
The Elon Law Flex Program is designed for the working professional and students can complete their law degree in four years. A full range of law electives will provide experiential opportunities in law clinics, publication in law journals and moot court programs and competitions.
The law program is just one of the new opportunities Elon will be offering in Charlotte. A dozen students from Elon’s Department of Sport Management will spend the fall semester in Charlotte taking classes at the new center and interning with a variety of organizations and businesses in Charlotte’s bustling sports industry.
President Connie Ledoux Book was joined by other Elon leaders and supporters on Tuesday to talk about the university’s investment in the Queen City through new facilities, academic programs and alumni engagement efforts. Following a morning press conference, Jetton was joined on stage by fellow Elon alumni April Frazer ’03 and Shelby McKay ’13 on a panel discussion moderated by Associate Dean and Professor of Sport Management Tony Weaver as they explored much of what the city has to offer to Elon students and alumni.
Second only to New York City as a U.S. banking center, Charlotte has offered the opportunity to have a global experience in a city that is more supportive of a work-life balance while offering a wealth of professional and cultural opportunities, said April Frazer ’03, chief financial officer of corporate and investment banking for Wells Fargo.
A “wonderful airport” allows professionals to connect easily across the country and around the globe while living in neighborhoods that offer a short commute to banking hubs.
“It has become a very attractive city for the financial sector,” Frazer said. “You are seeing a lot of regional banks come here because of the talent. The opportunities are growing massively across the board and you don’t have to sit in New York City to be successful. There’s no reason why more banks won’t keep coming here.”
When Shelby McKay ’13 arrived in Charlotte to begin her work with the Atlantic Coast Conference, it closed a loop that stretches back a decade to when she interned with the conference while a student at Elon. In fact, her supervisor for her student internship was part of the interview committee when she was hired as associate commissioner of student-athlete & institutional programs/DEI.
At the time of her internship, the ACC was based in Greensboro and even though she was a sport management major, Charlotte wasn’t on her radar as a location offering a lot of professional opportunities. That has changed as the city has continued to grow, particularly in its professional and amateur sports industries.
“The growth in sports in Charlotte is pretty transformational,” McKay said. “This offers huge opportunities for our students to learn in a different environment and to not have to go across the country.”
McKay advised students in the audience to keep an open mind about opportunities to branch out beyond their normal professional and personal circles. “The best place to start is meeting people, networking and getting to know people in different areas because you never know what you might learn from them,” McKay said.