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St. John’s Law Welcomes Strong and Diverse Entering Class of 2017

Dean Simons takes a Convocation selfie
Dean Michael A. Simons snaps a selfie with new students at Convocation
Friday, August 18, 2017

“Look to your left. Look to your right.”

Generations of law school graduates across the country can recall what they saw, thought, and felt when they heard their dean utter those words during their 1L orientation as a call to size up the competition in the room.

But, as Dean Michael A. Simons explained at the recent Law School Convocation, at St. John’s those same words have a very different meaning. They’re a reminder that the newest St. John's Law students are part of a close-knit community of classmates, faculty, administrators, and alumni who are “all in this together.”

Looking to their left and right as they embark on this new adventure, the 253 1Ls in the J.D. program find a diverse group hailing from across the country and around the world. They range in age from 20 to 46, they represent over 125 colleges and universities and 50 undergraduate majors, and they bring a wealth of professional and life experience to their legal studies at St. John’s. The class includes:

  • An adjunct professor in psychology and a registered patent agent
  • A psychotherapist, a pharmacist, and an executive director of a congressional campaign
  • An EMT and a cancer survivor
  • A hip hop composer and a think-tank fellow

Many in the class are former college athletes; 34 are immigrants from 22 different birth countries; 16 have graduate degrees (two of which are Ph.D.s); a number are parents; several are the first in their family to go to college; two are a part of a set of triplets; and one is the first fourth generation St. John’s Law student.

“And that’s just the J.D. program,” Dean Simons noted. “Our 53 new LL.M. students, all of whom already have a law degree from their home country, come from Canada, China, France, Ghana, Iran, Italy, Korea, Macedonia, Pakistan, Poland, Russia, Ukraine, the United States, and Saudi Arabia.”

Together, in all their diversity, the incoming students reflect the richness that is New York City and the St. John’s Law family. They are also well qualified to continue a proud tradition of academic and professional success.

“It’s a pleasure to welcome this class, as they bring their vast experiences, accomplishments, and academic achievements with them into our classrooms,” says Alicia Meehan, the Law School’s assistant dean for admissions and recruitment. “The class’s median GPA is our highest on record, and we expect that the students will continue to excel over the years, given the many resources and opportunities that St. John’s Law offers them.”

From their first day on campus, the new students benefit from the Law School’s sharp focus on career development and experiential learning, and from its strong network of dedicated alumni who give back to alma mater as donors, employers, mentors, and teachers.

They also have ample opportunity to animate St. John’s Vincentian mission of serving those in need. They can provide direct legal services to the poor through one of the Law School’s in-house and partner clinics, and they can participate in Pro Bono Week 2017 and the University’s Service Day, among many other public interest activities and initiatives.

At the close of Convocation, the students took an oath administered by Hon. Deborah A. Kaplan '85, a New York State Supreme Court justice who, Dean Simons observed, epitomizes hard work and selfless service on the bench, in the wider legal community, and back home at St. John’s.

As the entering students looked ahead to their two-week Introduction to Law course, Dean Simons offered this reminder: “We’re here for you, just as you will be here for each other. That’s how family works.”