This week, some potential good news for legal education came out of little-known Elon University School of Law in Greensboro, South Carolina. At the very minimum, it creates intrigue in what a different style of legal education could look like. At most, it could suggest a shift in the way legal education is delivered—at least for lower-ranked schools that have suffered most from the recent application and enrollment drop.
Last fall, Elon announced a potentially game-changer in providing a condensed and cheaper version of law school. So far, it seems to have gotten the attention of future lawyers. The school reported a rise in applications and enrollment for their 1Ls who’ll be reporting to campus this fall. In fact, the uptick has proven to be Elon’s largest incoming class in the past six years.
“We’re not like every other law school,” law school Dean Luke Bierman told the Winston-Salem Journal last week. “We want a different kind of law student — a pioneer, someone with a pioneering spirit who can come into a new program and succeed.”
The two big changes were (first) shifting the school to a tri-semester system. The school lengthened the academic year by about six weeks but students will graduate in two-and-a-half years instead of the traditional three. Perhaps more enticing, the school slashed tuition by about $14,000. Now, students will pay a total of $100,000 in tuition and fees for their degrees.
The curriculum has also changed. Instead of immediately throwing students into contracts, criminal law, and civil procedure, they are being eased into legal writing, leadership skills, and legal methods. In the classrooms, practicing attorneys are spending more time teaching practical and real-life situations instead of the strict theoretical approach used at many schools.
Students also are given four-member teams to advise them through the entire law school experience. The teams are comprised of a faculty member, practicing attorney, and two staff members.
With a 14% application increase, Elon is one of 24 law schools to have double-digit percentage increases. The incoming class has 132 students—the largest since 2010 —and Bierman says the school plans to continue to enroll around that amount to get the total law school enrollment to about 400.
Source: Winston-Salem Journal
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