Wake Forest Law welcomes its newest students for the 2018-19 academic year

Photograph of students in classroom

Wake Forest University School of Law welcomed its newest students for the 2018-19 academic year on Friday, Aug. 10.

The entering JD class of 154, which includes three new Two-Year International JD students, hail from 31 states, 75 percent from states other than North Carolina, four countries other than U.S., and 100 different colleges and universities. The two-year JD students come from England, Scotland, and Ukraine.

“You are a diverse group in many ways and that diversity will make your classroom experience all the more interesting,” Dean Suzanne Reynolds (JD ’77) explained. “You majored in everything from political science to petroleum engineering and you are interested in or have experience in running yoga, soccer, Teach for America, robotics, and woodworking, among others. You have beautifully rich, diverse backgrounds but you also have something in common. You all wanted to study the legal profession. This is the first day of your professional journey that will lead to what will surely be a rewarding professional life.”

JD applications to Wake Forest Law were up 26 percent compared with 8 percent nationally, the dean said. And four members of the incoming JD class were admitted using GRE scores rather than the traditional Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) scores. Wake Forest was among the first three law schools in the nation to have started a validation study of the GRE test in collaboration with Educational Testing Service (ETS) and is only law school in North Carolina to accept the GRE beginning Fall 2018.

The 25 one-year LL.M. students, who hail from Nigeria, India, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Ghana, Kosovo, England, Ukraine, Republic of Congo, Canada, Italy, Venezuela, Brazil, Latvia, Afghanistan, Colombia, and Jamaica, began classes on Monday, Aug. 6.

“As the LL.M.s shared their stories, over and over we heard comments like ‘dream come true,’ ‘make my country better,’ ‘address human rights abuses,’ and ‘improve our system of criminal justice,’” Dean Reynolds added. “What an inspirational group of lawyers.”

The law school’s MSL degree and certificate program, in its third year of being offered wholly online, will welcome 27 new students on Monday, Aug. 20, at the same time second- and third-year law students return to classes.

“The MSL students include vice presidents and assistant vice presidents, CFOs, and physician assistants, among others, from a wide range of industries and companies,” Dean Reynolds said. “They are 45 percent minority; they come from 12 states; and they have an average age of 38. Wow.”

Assistant Dean of International Affairs Dick Schneider stressed the importance of incorporating international and global thinking into their legal education during Friday morning’s welcome program for new students.

“You may find you have to register a trademark in a foreign country,” he explained. “One of our grads is a lawyer in Hickory, North Carolina, who does nothing but international transactions. I urge you to take courses with an international component.”

The incoming JD Class of 2021 arrived on campus to begin Foundations Week, which includes contributing to the Winston-Salem community by volunteering with Habitat for Humanity of Forsyth County. Each of the four sections of about 45 incoming JD students will spend a morning or afternoon last week along with faculty members and law school administrators, building homes not far from campus.

The entering law school class has been volunteering with Habitat for a dozen years, according to Associate Dean of Administration and Student Services Ann Gibbs.

“The Habitat folks help us make progress and there are neighborhoods all over the city our students have helped build now,” she told the incoming students. “It’s a lot of fun and a great way to give back to the community.”

Student Bar Association (SBA) Vice President Kevin Olsen (JD ‘19) advised the incoming class to take the time this week to get to know their fellow classmates, especially the ones in their respective section.

“I’ve really enjoyed my time here and I know you will as well,” he explained, “I chose Wake Forest because it’s a small school and has a community feel to it, which is one of the best parts about being at Wake Forest.”

Dean Reynolds, who told the students she would be stepping down at the end of this academic year, added the law school’s Pro Bono Program and its obligation to help others is the signature of Wake Forest Law.

“It’s also the signature of a rewarding life in the law,” she said. “The public is sorely in need of your help. What an exciting time to come to law school and what an exciting place to be studying the law.”