Brandeis School of Law’s SBA president eyes national presence
At the end of July, Brandeis School of Law’s SBA president, Rudy Ellis III, and 3L/ABA student representative Tony Singleton traveled to Chicago for the American Bar Association’s annual meeting. The trip was consistent with their goal of getting the SBA more involved with the ABA on a national scale.
According to Ellis, it is the first time in a while anyone from Brandeis had attended the event.
“Nobody I’ve talked to remembers anyone from UofL being there. It’s just something I don’t think we’ve tapped into in a long time,” he said. “The ABA is essentially the governing body (of law schools), so I thought it was important for us to have a presence.”
He refers to it as a “guinea pig” trip: The two students not only wanted to network, but to also learn about the ABA’s structure and how to better engage Brandeis with the national organization.
"Brandeis is part of the ABA’s sixth circuit, along with 18 other law schools. One of Ellis’ plans as SBA president is to coordinate an event with these other schools to brainstorm issues and solutions and to help each other.
“If we have issues with any of the ABA’s standards, we now have an outlet to discuss those issues through the student division. We want to have a meaningful stake with ABA,” Ellis said.
Singleton and Ellis are trying to get every student at Brandeis to sign up for the ABA’s student division and jump started this effort during 1L orientation. Membership is free and schools actually compete for membership numbers. In fact, the ABA hands out six awards every year and the Brandeis SBA plans on applying to whichever awards are applicable.
“I don’t know if winning them will help us, but I know it won’t hurt us. What the SBA is really concentrating on this year is making sure we’re not only helping students, but also getting the school national exposure,” Ellis said. “That includes more ABA participation.”
Other SBA Goals
In addition to having a stronger ABA presence, the Brandeis School of Law SBA’s objectives this year also include:
“We haven’t done a great job communicating everything we do. We helped with orientation, we held a service day and are hosting a soccer game with the dental and med schools next weekend,” Ellis said. “We should let people know about these things to get them more excited and involved.”
- Organizational structure.
Ellis has developed a flow chart, contact lists, letterhead and other organizational processes. “Now that the SBA is my child to nurture, these simple tweaks will help out a lot for us and hopefully those who come after us,” he said. “If you’re not organized, you’re going to fall apart.”
- Alumni involvement.
The SBA president was elected on a platform that focused heavily on more alumni involvement. Members are planning a golf tournament in the spring with alumni and practitioners, for example. The idea is for students to be their caddies and provide networking and relationship-building opportunities. Other ideas – such as a football game viewing party at a local bar – are also on the table.
Ellis has mandated that everyone in the SBA to do at least one more task than they did last year. He said everyone is on board with these objectives and is motivated by the opportunity to elevate the school’s profile.
“We have very motivated students here. We’re a public service school – we don’t just go through the motions, we want to take something and make it better,” Ellis said. “I have less than a year left here. I’m not looking for a legacy, just a structure for those who come after us. The Law School will always be a reflection of us and we’ll always be a reflection of it.”