Incoming Students Bring Law Campus Back to Life

The School of Law welcomed an incoming class of 154 JD and 18 LLM students, plus many 2L students who were taking their first in-person law classes after a first year conducted entirely online.

UConn Law students at 2021 orientation

Incoming 1L students at the School of Law work in groups on a hypothetical case at an orientation session in the Reading Room of William F. Starr Hall. (Camille Chill photo)

The UConn School of Law welcomed a professional, driven and extremely motivated class of 154 JD students and 18 LLM students to its first semester fully back on campus in more than 17 months.

Classes began August 30 for all students — including second-year students taking their first in-person classes — and four new faculty members. The vast majority of classes, clinics and seminars will be held face-to-face for the first time since March 2020.

The incoming JD class consists of 131 Day Division students and 23 Evening Division students representing 87 undergraduate institutions hailing from 18 states and speaking at least 14 languages, including Gujarati, Telugu and Vietnamese. The class includes several pandemic-tested nurses, several Eagle Scouts, an opera singer and five military veterans.

The average age of the class is 25. Eleven percent hold advanced degrees and 19 percent are first-generation college graduates. Twenty-seven percent of class members self-identify as a member of an underrepresented minority group and 61 percent are women.

Applications to UConn Law rose 46 percent from last cycle, with many applicants citing the pandemic as a factor in their decision to apply to law school. Lauren Majchrowski, UConn Law’s director of admissions, said the increase resulted in a special incoming class.

“They are academically distinguished and active in their communities, have won coveted awards, led university sports teams to championships and served as medical providers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Majchrowski said. “I have no doubt they will succeed in every endeavor, and I am so excited to see what they accomplish in the next years as a part of our community.”

Incoming students attended three full days of on-campus orientation. Masked and following safety precautions, they toured the campus, participated in faculty, staff and alumni panels and attended classes.

“I found orientation to be extremely helpful,” said Taylorann Vibert ’24. “Having a couple classes before the first day settled my nerves, and I felt much more prepared for the week ahead. The faculty set their expectations for our 1L year and imparted some great advice on how to balance the workload.”

The 18 LLM (Master of Law) candidates come from 13 countries, including Ghana, the United Arab Emirates and Ukraine. Fourteen are pursuing U.S. Legal Studies degrees, and the rest are divided among the Human Rights and Social Justice, Insurance Law, and Energy and Environmental Law programs.

In addition to the incoming LLM class, which features two Fulbright Scholars, the law school welcomed nine exchange students for the academic year. Carrianna Field, director of graduate and exchange programs, said the students’ excitement at being on campus is palpable.

“Each year there is considerable enthusiasm and excitement to get started at UConn Law in an LLM program,” Field said. “The LLM students arrived this year with perhaps even more excitement than usual, both because they were finally able to study in-person and because they already achieved so much to physically get to campus.”

While most of the law school community moved to remote working and instruction in March 2020, the library has been open and staffed since November 2020. The law school’s facilities staff remained on-campus, maintaining and updating it. The fruits of their labor include a new gym in Knight Hall and several new classrooms in the library.

“It is such an honor and pleasure to welcome this outstanding and diverse group of new students to our beautiful campus,” Dean Eboni S. Nelson said. “I am confident that they will harness their considerable talents, knowledge and skills to become leaders and advocates for justice throughout our state, country, and world. I am also thrilled to welcome our returning students to campus, especially our second-year students who are studying on campus for the first time. We are immensely grateful to all members of our law school community who have helped to make a safe return possible.”