Elon University / Today at Elon / Students flex entrepreneurial muscles at Legal Design Derby

Four students from Elon Law’s Class of 2024 took part this fall in a statewide program aimed at sparking new and innovative ways of offering legal services.

Four students new to Elon Law forged friendships and challenged each other to think creatively about the nation’s legal system when they participated this fall in a program aimed at improving the delivery of representation and access to justice.

Chuom Prak, Erika Service, Will Shafer and Kirsten Tildon from the Class of 2024 represented Elon Law at the “Legal Design Derby” co-hosted by the Duke Center on Law & Tech and North Carolina Central University Technology Law and Policy Center.

Participants worked throughout the day on October 22, 2022, to identify and refine a proposal aimed at re-envisioning the way in which law schools and students prepare for the future of the legal profession.

Elon University / Today at Elon / Students flex entrepreneurial muscles at Legal Design Derby
Elon Law students taking part in the Legal Design Derby were (from left) Chuom Prak L’24, Kirsten Tildon L’24, Erika Service L’24 and Will Shafer L’24. (Photo by Colin Huth of HuthPhoto)

Sponsored by Lawyers Mutual Consulting + Services, students from North Carolina’s law schools gathered in Durham where a panel of judges awarded prizes, and select teams would be eligible for financial support, mentoring, or resources to further develop concepts.

Elon Law’s team proposed the establishment of a licensing tier between the work of paralegals and full attorneys that, if implemented by states, would allow law firms to increase the volume of their work while making services more affordable for clients.

“The demand for legal services in North Carolina outstrips the level of services that are now available,” Prak said. “Law schools could be the leaders in establishing master’s programs for these types of positions.”

Put another way: “How do you fill a gap when a large percentage of people don’t have or can’t afford legal representation?” Service said. “It was great to be free in our thought process!”

The Elon Law team proposed a new classification of legal professionals between fully licensed attorneys and paralegals, which, if introduced, would allow law firms to more easily – and more cost effectively – assist clients who currently lack access to services. (Photo by Colin Huth of HuthPhoto)

Teammates expressed appreciation for the chance to participate and the encouragement they received from Associate Professor John Flynn, director of Elon Law’s Small Business & Entrepreneurship Clinic.

“This was a wonderful opportunity for anyone who has an idea to improve the legal system,” Tildon said. “It was encouraging to know that, in the future, I can develop a concept and have it explored in this way.”

And just getting to know each other as first-year students at Elon Law made the day a success.

“We all knew each other a little bit beforehand,” Shafer added, “but by working as a team and representing the school together, it was even more enjoyable.”

Students flex entrepreneurial muscles at Legal Design Derby