Elon University / Today in Elon / Charge to Elon’s New Law Students: Use Your ‘POWER’

Prioritize people and the network. Be open to trying new things. Ways to give back are plentiful. Embrace the journey. Reputation management is important.

Gerald L. Walden Jr. G’14 believes that the best lawyers are those who establish these habits and values ​​early in their legal studies, and that means now is the time for the newest students at the Law School of Elon University commit to healthier habits of mind. and using his “POWER”

The president-elect of the Greensboro Bar Association delivered a convening address on August 5, 2022 to Elon Law’s Class of 2024, the second largest and one of the most diverse in the program’s history.

With 168 students, Elon Law’s Class of 2024 is the second largest in the program’s history.

Walden serves as Vice President/Assistant General Counsel and Chief Diversity Officer for The Fresh Market, Inc., a specialty grocery retailer with its corporate office based in North Carolina. His comments were based on his two decades of professional experience in handling most of the major litigation facing the firm and all of its labor and employment law matters.

“You are about to embark on one of the most rigorous and hopefully one of the most rewarding experiences of your life,” he said. “Become a lawyer.”

Walden noted how some students arrive at law school with a clear idea of ​​the kind of law they want to practice. That’s perfectly fine, she said. He just doesn’t ignore opportunities that present themselves, even in areas of practice that he’s never considered before.

“Whenever I get asked what a great intern or new attorney is, it’s just someone willing to learn,” Walden said. “Of course, being someone smart and a strong writer and researcher is a given. Beyond that, I want someone who is willing to work in an area of ​​the law that he had no prior knowledge of or even thought he would like and approach it as if he was born to do it.”

Acting Chancellor Raghu Tadepalli presented each member of the Class of 2024 with the symbolic gift of an acorn to represent the beginning of their growth as law students and legal leaders.

Then find ways to give back. Walden said there are many community attorneys who can help with the knowledge they have.

“Law students and attorneys are in a unique position to help address the legal issues facing individuals, groups and organizations to advance the public good,” he said. “This may be easier for some than others depending on the type of law you practice…but as a lawyer, even as a law student, there are always opportunities to give of your time and talents.”

Finally, Walden said, never forget that a lawyer’s reputation is vitally important to his or her success.

“A brand and its reputation are important in many professions, especially those where you are trying to attract and retain customers,” he said. “Lawyers are already the butt of many jokes and some negative stereotypes, so why continue to act unprofessionally, disrespectfully, without honor or integrity?”

And protect your online reputation and how you present yourself to others. “Block your social media accounts as soon as possible,” Walden said. “Remove questionable images that could put you in a bad light. Google yourself and see what comes up. If you see something questionable that you’re not happy with, do something to change it.”

Walden joined The Fresh Market in 2004 following two judicial clerks on the North Carolina Court of Appeals. He graduated summa cum laude in 1996 from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. She received her Juris Doctorate with honors in 2001 from North Carolina Central University School of Law and an MBA in 2014 from Elon University.

Walden is a member of the NC A&T Board of Visitors, the NCCU Law Board of Visitors, the Elon Law School Advisory Board, the Greensboro Bar Association Board of Directors, the National Law Council Board of Directors Labor and the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce Member Participation Advisory Board.

In recent years, he has served as president of the Guilford County Black Bar Association, a member of the Board of Governors of the North Carolina Bar Association, and chair of the NCBA Committee on Minorities in the Profession.

The ceremony at the Alumni Gym on Elon’s main campus in Alamance County included a presentation by each member of the class signing a copy of the Elon Law Honor Code before walking across a stage to shake hands with Elon University Interim Chancellor Raghu Tadepalli and Elon Law Interim Dean Alan Woodlief.

The call featured comments from Tadepalli and Faisal Sulman L’22, president of the Student Lawyers Association, who coincidentally completed his Elon Law practice residency under Walden’s supervision at The Fresh Market.

Both welcomed Elon Law to the Class of 2024: Tadepalli on behalf of the Elon faculty and administration, and Sulman on behalf of the Elon Law student body.

Each member of Elon Law’s Class of 2024 signed a poster to be displayed in Greensboro with the four tenets of the university’s Honor Code.

Tadepalli described how Elon Law faculty enjoy teaching students both inside and outside of the classroom and how they are noted for their accessibility and responsiveness to students. She told the class to take advantage of the opportunity to work with “this community of outstanding thinkers.”

“Active scholarship is the engine that keeps teachers intellectually curious and stimulated, and research influences and enhances the ideas they share with you in the classroom,” said Tadepalli. “I hope you will ask your faculty about their academic interests and how they are advancing their disciplines.”

Sulman encouraged his new classmates to use the resources of law school by starting a program that will challenge them in ways other than their college studies.

“Each of you sitting across from me has access to a phenomenal support system of experienced faculty, staff, and students willing to go above and beyond to help you. None of you are alone in this process,” Sulman said. “Law school is going to be challenging. However, it is called law school for a reason. You are here to learn. You won’t get everything right from the start and that’s okay.

Faisal Sulman L’22 is serving as the 2022 President of the Elon Law Student Bar Association.

“Take a deep breath, reset and try again. And if you still can’t get it, ask the faculty, staff, and students for help.”

At the end of the ceremony, Woodlief shared the symbolism of the acorn each received after signing the Honor Code sign. His education in Elon, the Hebrew word for “oak,” will transform them over the next two and a half years, Woodlief explained.

Upon graduation, another gift will symbolize that growth. Until then, she said, focusing on the principles of the Honor Code will help students develop an important attribute for any attorney.

“By embracing the values ​​of honesty, integrity, responsibility and respect, you demonstrate your desire to serve the public good while meeting the high standards of a noble profession,” Woodlief said. “A lawyer’s reputation is the lawyer’s most valuable asset.

Each member of the Class of 2024 received an acorn as a symbolic gift after signing a poster with the four principles of the Elon University Honor Code.

“While getting good grades is good, your reputation will depend less on your grades and more on what others observe about you: your value ethic, your diligent preparation for class, your commitment to honesty and ethical behavior, and the courtesy and respect shown. others inside and outside the classroom. Those same things will also shape your reputation as a practicing attorney after law school.”

About the Elon Law

Elon University School of Law in Greensboro, North Carolina, is the preeminent school for hands-on, engaged learning of the law. With a focus on learning by doing and among the top quartile of U.S. law schools for low levels of student loan debt at graduation, it integrates traditional classroom instruction with course-related full-time internship residencies in a logically sequenced program of transformative career preparation. Elon Law’s innovative approach is achieved in 2.5 years, providing distinctive value by reducing tuition and allowing graduates to enter their legal careers early.

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