Law School Welcomes Incoming Class of 2014
Last week, approximately 215 day and evening students joined the St. John’s Law community as the incoming class of 2014.
Welcoming the 1Ls at the start of their two-week orientation program, Dean Michael A Simons shared that hard work has always been part of the St. John’s culture. This diligence, he explained, goes hand in hand with an obligation to serve those less fortunate. “Don’t lose sight of justice,” he said, referring to a legal education as a tremendous asset and a privilege. Dean Simons also noted that the students are starting their law school journey with “complete strangers” who will become some of their “dearest friends,” and with the support of devoted faculty, administrators, and staff. “We’re here for you, just as you will be here for each other,” he said. “That’s how a family works.”
The newest members of the St. John’s Law family hail from a competitive applicant pool. St. John’s was one of only 37 law schools in the country that saw an increase in applications this year, and one of only 20 schools with an increase greater than10 percent. But even with this larger applicant pool, fewer students were admitted as part of the Law School's continuing commitment to quality. The increased selectivity caused St. John's median LSAT to rise from 156 to 157 and its median GPA to rise from 3.39 to 3.45.
Primed to explore diverse pathways to a rewarding career in the law, the incoming class represents 97 undergraduate institutions, 14 states in the United States, and five countries across the globe, and is 47% women, 53% men, and 28% minority. All will benefit from the Law School’s sharp focus on career development and experiential learning, and its strong network of alumni who give back to alma mater as donors, mentors, teachers, and employers. “We’re pleased to welcome our new class, said Robert M. Harrison, associate dean for admissions and student financial services. “This is a highly-talented group of students who are eager to hit the ground running and make valuable contributions to St. John’s Law and the legal profession.”
Like the new J.D. candidates, the Law School’s incoming LL.M. students are also an impressive group. The three LL.M. programs offered through the Office of Transnational Programs at St. John’s Law welcomed diverse and talented classes. The LL.M. in International and Comparative Sports Law has 10 new students, the LL.M. in Transnational Legal Practice has 11 newcomers, and the LL.M. in U.S. Legal Studies has 14 incoming students. They join 20 students continuing in these LL.M. programs and two students from the Law School’s exchange program with the University of Glasgow School of Law. “We have a larger LL.M. class from a greater diversity of countries this year and with very strong academic credentials,” said Assistant Dean for Transnational Programs Jeffrey K. Walker. “With the range of perspectives and experience they bring to their studies, this new group of students is going to be a tremendous addition to St. John’s.”
The highly selective LL.M. in Bankruptcy program welcomed a diverse group of five new students, including top recent law school graduates and established lawyers. The program also launched its first online courses to strong demand, with several dozen practitioners and law students from around the country enrolling in the initial offerings. “This is an exciting year for us, both because of the great mix of entering students who will benefit from the others’ different backgrounds, and the opportunity to offer our courses to a broader national audience,” said Director of Bankruptcy Programs Yvette Gutierrez.
During orientation, the new students take the Introduction to Law class, attend orientation sessions, and participate in a range of activities, including welcome barbeques, student-faculty get togethers, and the annual Fall Fest sponsored by the Law School’s Student Bar Association. “The orientation program offers students an introduction to the study of law and to the learned profession they’re joining,” said Vice Dean Emeritus and Acting Dean for Students Andrew J. Simons. “But it also introduces them to their new, close-knit, and vibrant Law School community, where they will grow as thinkers, as colleagues, as friends, and as future leaders of the legal profession.”
Honoring St. John’s Vincentian tradition, on Friday, August 22, 2014, the incoming 1Ls joined administrators and faculty for the Law School’s annual Day of Service and Reflection. Service projects included working in a soup kitchen and staffing a food pantry in Brooklyn through St. John’s Bread and Life, and assisting in the thrift store and with other initiatives at HandCrafting Justice in Astoria, Queens. Students also had the opportunity to train on campus with one of the Law School’s partner pro bono projects. Legal Information for Families Today (LIFT) offered training in family law assistance, while the Civil Legal Advice and Referral Office (CLARO) program offered training in consumer debt issues. “Our orientation program service day marks the first of many opportunities students will have to forge what we hope will be a career-long commitment to pro bono service and social justice,” Dean Andrew Simons said. “It’s wonderful to see the students bond with classmates over a shared experience of giving back.”
The Law School’s orientation program continues during the academic year with programs to guide and support students in their academic pursuits, co-curricular activities, and career development.