Originally in Burlington Times News

December 15, 2018

Most of the speakers at the Elon University School of Law graduation noted the “trying” state of the world, but keynote speaker and North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein dropped it in the lap of the graduating class.

“In the struggle between the rule of law and the corrosion of our values,” Stein said, “I am putting my money on you.”

The 102 members of the second class to graduate from the law school’s relatively new two-and-a-half-year curriculum took their walk before friends and family in a nearly full Alumni Gym, Saturday Dec. 15, and were sent on their way with diplomas and a mission.

“Make it count,” said Darrell Alexander Jr., former president of the Student Bar Association, from the podium.

Stein, a Democrat elected in 2016, talked about the divisions in the county being real, but seriously exaggerated by cable news, social media and dishonest political maneuvering like gerrymandering and excessive campaign spending.

“I don’t think the people in the United States are as divided as our systems are dysfunctional,” Stein said.

The extreme partisanship growing from that dysfunction, Stein said, led to political attacks on institutions that uphold democracy like the news media and the independent judiciary that call out and limit the overreach of political leaders.

“An independent judiciary protects us, but who protects the judiciary?” Stein asked. “The Lawyers.”

These graduates are not lawyers yet. Elon Law switched to a seven-trimester in the fall of 2015 that lets students graduate in December in time to take the bar exam in February.

“I’m going to speak this into being,” said Grace Lay, who gave the student address. “Elon Law will have a 100-percent pass rate.”

Assuming they pass, the timing of that curriculum lets graduates become lawyers and look for jobs in the spring while graduates from other law schools are studying for the bar in July.

“You are prepared for what comes next, even if you don’t know what that is yet, so be earnest, work hard, do right and be kind,” Stein said. “I for one cannot wait to see what you accomplish and how North Carolina will be better for it.”