Wake Forest School of Law welcomes JD Class of 2020, international students

Photo of student in class

Wake Forest School of Law’s newest students for the 2017-18 academic year include 152 JDs and 28 international students from 15 countries, including Ukraine, Brazil, China, Mongolia, Saudi Arabia, Kosovo, Nigeria, England, Lithuania, Italy, Turkey and Japan, across four programs —  LL.M., SJD, Two-Year JD and Visiting International Researcher (VIR).

Assistant Dean of International Affairs Dick Schneider, told the incoming students during the welcome program for new JD students, stressed the importance of incorporating international and global thinking into their legal education. “When you leave Wake Forest Law, no matter what you do, you will be faced with global issues,” he added. “We have a wonderful LL.M. class who have completed law degrees in their home country. Be sure to be welcoming and to open up your hearts and minds to these people. The network you establish here will be global. We have our own little UN.”

The entering JD Class of 2020 is made up of 152 students representing 87 colleges and universities from 25 states and three foreign countries. The class is split nearly evenly between men and women with 25 percent of the class is made up of diversity students.

Dean Suzanne Reynolds (JD ’77) told the first-year law students that they are a diverse group that includes a decorated U.S. Army drill sergeant, a 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic athlete, a Certified Public Accountant, a high school teacher, a professional musician and a political campaign manager.  “That diversity will make your classroom experience more interesting,” she said. “We have admitted a wonderful group of men and women.”

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

“You will begin to look at the world differently,” she said. “You will insist on free debate. You will annoy your family and friends. You will appreciate in really dramatic ways that the law can make lives better but when there are unintended consequences of those laws, you will want to change them.”

Commenting on recent events including the demonstrations in Charlottesville, Virginia, Dean Reynolds said, “You could not be at a better place than Wake Forest Law to tackle these issues,” she said. “Everybody here is dedicated to your professional development. Our goal is to support you in every way. We will make you graduate with a sense to make this world a better place and we will work in every way we know how to make you feel that passion. Our students’ passion for social justice will help you pick up that mantle. It is the first day on your journey to enter a new profession. I salute you to beginning a journey that will lead you to a deeply meaningful career.”

The incoming JDs contributed to the Winston-Salem community by volunteering with Habitat for Humanity of Forsyth County. Each of the four sections of about 40 incoming JD students spent a morning or afternoon last week along with faculty members and law school administrators, building homes in the Kimberley Park Elementary School area. They were featured in a video on local TV news station WXII.

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.”

Student Bar Association President Seth Williford (JD ’18) gave the incoming students three pieces of advice. “Be confident in yourself; find your definition of success; practice self-care.”

Williford continued, “Find a balance in law school. You’re here to learn a profession and be a professional. How you work in law school is how you will work after you graduate.”