On Monday, Aug. 17, the St. John’s University’s Law School welcomed the class of 2020 at New Student Orientation and Convocation. This class has a total of 246 students, some of which decided to participate in-person for class, while respecting social distancing and wearing masks. The rest of the class members joined convocation and will attend their classes virtually. These students bring with them a wide range of experiences. Some members of the new class have more than just an undergraduate degree under their belt – some are U.S. Army and Navy Veterans, baristas, journalists, paralegals, small business owners, minor league sports players, dancers, Certified Public Accountants and even an orthodontist.
“It’s not the building that defines us; it’s the people — all working together to create something: lawyers that our world sorely needs,” Dean Michael A. Simmons said during the Class of 2020 fall Convocation.
“Together, in all your diversity, you represent the richness that is New York City and that is the St. John’s Law family,” Simmons said in his welcome address to the class.
While this class is facing their law school studies amidst a pandemic, their backgrounds were deemed quite impressive. According to the University, “At least 28 of them are the first college graduates in their immediate family, and the same number are first-generation Americans. Another two dozen were born outside the United States, and 72 are bilingual. There are 71 1Ls who identify as students of color, and 14 who identify as LGBTQ.”
These students come from many different states and countries, attended 120 different colleges and collectively make up 50 different majors. Twenty students went on to earn their graduate degree, including a Ph.D.
The 1Ls (first year law students) are also coming in with “a median LSAT score of 160 and a median GPA of 3.62,” according to the University. For reference, the LSAT ranges from 120 being the lowest possible score, to 180 being the highest and GPA score on the traditional 4.0 grade scale.
Simmons reminded them that their “law license gives [them] not just the means to earn a living, but something more important: power.” Simmons told the class of 2020 this power can be used to solve the issues they care most about, such as racial justice, sexual harassment and gun violence, among others. St. John’s Law will give them the tools and knowledge needed to tackle these worldly issues.
The new Law students will soon turn into friends, partners and colleagues. Before the professionalism oath was taken at Convocation, Dean Simmons remarked that their classmates, deans, professors and other faculty are all a family: “We are here for you, just as you will be there for each other.”
St. John’s Law class of 2020 may face setbacks, changes to learning and challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, its background and statistics exceeds expectations, setting the tone for this new academic year.