Georgia State University College of Law welcomes 256 new students – one of the largest incoming classes in years – and the most women in college history. During the last week’s orientation, which included online and in-person elements, students had the opportunity to meet professors, explore curriculum activities, and more.
“This year’s incoming class consists of freshmen, transfer and LL.M. Students – is one of the most diverse we’ve had in years and impressive in many ways, ”said Monique McCarthy, Director of Legal Licenses. “Our team worked incredibly hard to make people’s dreams of becoming lawyers come true.”
In preparation for admitting students, the faculty and staff at the College of Law spent hundreds of hours rethinking online teaching and incorporating social distancing within the building. Classrooms and other rooms have been refurbished, the halls and stairs have been provided with traffic signs and additional hand disinfection stations have been installed to prepare for the start of school.
In addition to responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, the College of Law prepares students for challenging classroom conversations about the role of law in extending justice to all people. During orientation, the students broke out in small groups to discuss “Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson. The book, which was turned into a movie in 2019, follows the cases that shaped Stevenson as a young lawyer. One of them was Walter McMillian, an innocent black man Stevenson helped get out of prison after being falsely accused of murder.
As a result of handling these cases, Stevenson formed the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) to ensure people from underserved communities have fair representation. Today, in addition to legal services, EJI also houses a museum and National Peace and Justice Memorial to remember those who lost their lives to lynching.
“Our incoming students have been reading Just Mercy for the past few years and we felt that this year’s reading had a deep resonance,” said Alexis Martinez, Assistant Dean of Students. “We want students to think early on about professional responsibility and professional identity development and talk about how people from different backgrounds experience the justice system.”
In addition to the book discussions, students met their assigned librarians and heard from the Chief Justice’s Professionalism Committee, which guided them through problem-solving activities related to ethics, plagiarism, and behavior. As they prepare for a school year like no other, Interim Dean Leslie Wolf wants students to keep in mind that the College of Law trains attorneys for those times.
“Creating a safe and nurturing learning environment is always our top priority, and we look forward to welcoming our die-hard students back this year,” said Wolf. “This year may look different than previous years, but our faculty and students are already showing that with a little creativity we can deliver the full Georgia State Law experience.”
The JD and LL.M. Classes come to Georgia State Law from all over the world. Incoming class members come from 13 states in the US and 28 countries.
JD in the first year
26 average age
73 Bachelor institutions represented
64 majors represented
56 percent female
44 percent male
87 percent of Georgia residents
13 percent non-residents
38 average age
20 bar preparation track
1 US lawyer