Last week, 100 new law students were introduced to the next three years of their lives as the class of 2021 was welcomed to BYU Law. The annual Intro to Law orientation began with words from Wendy Archibald, Dean of Students. “Look around the room,” she said. “These are strangers now… but mark my words, these strangers will become some of your closest friends in the whole world.”
Following Dean Archibald’s remarks, the new students watched a video honoring the life of J. Reuben Clark, for whom the law school is named. The video was followed by a statistical breakdown of the incoming class by Stacie Stewart, Dean of Admission. She pointed out that, of the incoming class, 80 percent of the students speak another language; 21 percent are an ethnic minority; the average LSAT score was 164; and the ages range from 20 to 63 years.
However, the most exciting news – what Dean Gordon Smith later called “the most important change” in the law school – was that for the first time in BYU Law School history, the incoming class is 51 percent women. Comparing numbers from previous years, Dean Stewart gave the students a frame of reference: in 1976, there were only 10 women in the entire class. This year, women are a majority. The announcement was received with loud applause.
Dean Gordon Smith wrapped up the welcome by encouraging “inspiring leadership.” “Every single one of you has the capacity for greatness,” he encouraged, inviting students to demand excellence, build community, and be innovators through their three years of law school.
In addition, BYU Law’s class of 2021 was privileged to hear from Jim Ferrell of the Arbinger Institute, who led a three-hour workshop on mindset. He encouraged the students to look outward, not inward – to consider the objectives, needs, and concerns of others, especially as lawyers. “After working with companies around the world, I’ve seen that if a person marries whatever skill set they have with an outward mindset, that person will be a powerful influence for good.”
During the three-day orientation, the incoming law students had opportunities to attend a sample lecture, tour campus, and receive their carrels in the library. They also got to know the faculty in the faculty’s own homes on Thursday night, enjoyed a breakfast with BYU Law alumni on Friday morning, and picnicked with the entire law school on Friday night.
With their Intro to Law complete, the class of 2021 departed, ready to make a difference in the law school – and in the world. As Dean Gordon Smith declared to these newest law students, their mission is not only to learn but to go forth. “At BYU Law School, I hope we are all inspired by one idea: that we can change the world for the better.”