A paramedic, a past Peace Corp Volunteer, a ballerina, an Emmy Award winner, a scientist, a former pro basketball player, and an underground caverns tour guide all took their seats. It was a milestone moment for the 266 incoming students, as they came together in person for New Student Orientation and Convocation at St. John’s Law.
Welcoming the 1Ls, Dean Michael A. Simons noted that they are a diverse and talented class, hailing from across the country and around the world. With an average age of 24, speaking 29 different languages, and equipped with degrees from 118 colleges and a dozen graduate schools, they bring a range of perspectives to their legal studies. Out of the group, 98 identify as students of color and 20 as LGBTQ. The 1Ls also reflect the Law School’s proud tradition of opening doors to opportunity. There are 16 first-generation Americans in the class and 53 of the students were the first in their family to go to college.
As they begin their legal studies, the new students draw on outstanding credentials that include a median LSAT of 162 and a median GPA of 3.62. It’s a solid foundation of excellence to build on as they learn to do vital work that the world sorely needs. The media and public attention play a role in bringing society’s problems to light, Dean Simons acknowledged. But, he said, “It’s the law—and lawyers—to whom we turn for the solution. Law has the power to change society, and lawyers have the license to invoke that power.”
Whatever issues they care most about, St. John’s Law will help the 1Ls gain the knowledge and skills they need to do something about them. Through the Law School’s clinics and as externs and interns in the field, they will have opportunities to serve the public good and uphold St. John’s Vincentian mission of uplifting marginalized individuals and communities.
Before they stood to take the professionalism oath that has become a Convocation rite of passage, Dean Simons reminded the incoming students that they are now part of a community that includes 16,000 alumni worldwide and dedicated faculty, administrators, and staff at the Law School. “We’re here for you,” he said, “just as you will be here for each other. That’s how a family works.”