With a look to their right and a look to their left, 259 J.D. and 39 LL.M. students officially became St. John’s Law classmates at the New Student Convocation held at the Law School on Monday, August 12, 2019.
“We’re thrilled to welcome to St. John’s one of our most academically qualified and most diverse classes ever,” said Dean Michael A. Simons. “The new J.D. students’ median LSAT score is 159 and their median G.P.A. is 3.63, the highest ever.”
The incoming class brings diverse experiences and perspectives to campus. Ranging in age from 20 to 39, the J.D. cohort hails from across the country and around the world. They attended 118 different colleges as undergraduates, pursued 50 distinct majors, and went on to earn 28 graduate degrees, plus one Ph.D. At least 40 of them are the first college graduates in their family, and 46 are first-generation American. Another two dozen were born outside the United States, and 32% of them identify as students of color. “You’re cancer survivors and marathoners, poets and dancers,” Dean Michael A. Simons shared with the students. “You’ve worked with refugees and sexual assault victims. You’ve started businesses and raised children.”
The students entering the Bankruptcy, Transnational Legal Practice, and U.S. Legal Studies LL.M. programs at St. John’s Law also are an eclectic group with roots in China, Colombia, Cyprus, Ecuador, Egypt, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, New Zealand, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Spain, and the United States. Together, in all their diversity, the newest J.D. and LL.M. students reflect the richness that is New York City and the St. John’s Law family.
They also embark on their legal studies at St. John’s at a time when there is a global call to confront evil and intolerance in many forms. It’s a calling for lawyers, Dean Simons told the new students, because they have the ability and the authority to make a concrete difference. “When protestors challenge politicians to ‘do something’—as happened in Dayton, Ohio last week—the ‘something’ they’re talking about is law: write a law, pass a law, enforce that law, bring lawsuits under that law. They’re talking about the power of the law to change society. You will have access to that power.”
Dean Simons also noted that a lawyer’s power comes with an obligation to serve those less fortunate— selfless service that is a cornerstone of St. John’s Vincentian Mission. Every student has opportunities to animate that mission by providing direct legal services to underrepresented and marginalized people through one of the Law School’s in-house and partner clinics. They can also participate in Pro Bono Week, among many other activities and initiatives sponsored by the Law School’s Public Interest Center.
“It’s great to welcome our new students at Convocation,” said Assistant Dean for Admissions and Recruitment Alicia Meehan. “They’re a talented group and, as our most diverse class ever, they come with an amalgam of experiences, skillsets, and insights that can only enhance classroom discussions and foster connections across the St. John’s Law community. Also, for the third consecutive year, the J.D. class’s median GPA is our highest on record, and we expect that the students will continue to excel as they take advantage of all the resources and opportunities that St. John’s has to offer.”
To close Convocation, the students took an oath administered by Hon. Wilma Guzman ’86, an accomplished trial lawyer, an experienced judge, and a dedicated public servant who models what it means to give back to the community and to the legal profession. With that rite of passage, the students looked forward to their two-week Introduction to Law course as Dean Simons offered this reminder: “We’re here for you, just as you will be here for each other. That’s how family works.”