Wake Forest Law welcomes JD Class of 2019, international law students

Wake Forest Law welcomed its newest juris doctor (JD) and international students for the 2016-17 academic year beginning Friday, Aug. 12.

New students include 164 JD students, 20 LL.M. in American Law (LL.M.) students, six new SJD (Doctor of Juridical Science) students, three Visiting International Researchers (VIRs) and nine Two-Year JD for International Lawyers students.

The entering JD Class of 2019 is made up of 164 students representing 88 colleges and universities from 29 states (70 percent from outside N.C.) and three foreign countries. The class is 52 percent women and 48  percent of the class is made up of diversity students. And there are at least 11 students with graduate degrees.

Dean Suzanne Reynolds (JD ’77), who became the law school’s first woman dean on July 1, 2015, told the first-year law students this class will always be special to her. “I am like you,” she said during Friday morning’s welcome. “I am still a new dean. You will always be incredibly special to me class of 2019 because we are 1Ls together.”

“You speak Spanish, Portuguese, Creole, German and Arabic,” she said. “You are veterans, you worked on a sport-fishing boat, you are professional musicians, teachers, farmers, black belts and acted on shows on the Disney Channel and HBO. You’re a wonderfully diverse group…year after year we think we can’t do it again and then we do. You all are an amazing, diverse, talented group all committed to the kind of educational experience we are.”

The dean added that in addition to being diverse, the new class also has a lot in common and will find even more commonalities in the coming months.

“You will look at the world differently,” she said. “You’ll start using words more precisely and you’ll start to think more precisely. You will notice things you never noticed before…you will realize the power of the law to make lives better and be responsible for changes in the law when it makes lives worse.”

The incoming JDs contributed to the Winston-Salem community by volunteering with Habitat of Humanity of Forsyth County. Each of the four sections of incoming JD students spent a morning or afternoon last week along with faculty members and law school administrators, building a home near Kimberley Park Elementary School. Watch a video of the build by WXII here.

The entering law school class has been volunteering with Habitat for more than a decade, according to Associate Dean of Administration and Student Services Ann Gibbs. “At Wake Forest Law, we believe in teaching students how to be citizen lawyers from the very beginning of their law careers,” she explained. “Working with Habitat also emphasizes the university’s commitment to its motto, Pro Humanitate.

“Habitat gives you a good entre into helping our community that really needs your help,” she told members of the incoming class.

Student Bar Association President Grace Sykes (JD ’17) told the incoming students, “My best advice to you is that it can be very overwhelming so try to maintain a balance. If you go play Pokemon Go for fours hours, we encourage that, or if you want to binge watch ‘House of Cards.’ Just take care of you and please ask for help.”