President of MLaw American Constitution Society Named Next Generation Leader
By Jenny Whalen
April 26, 2013
When your idol at age 6 is Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, there can be little doubt about the path your career will take. So when Elana Beale earns her JD this May, the ensuing feelings of euphoria will be as much the result of a dream coming to fruition as a destiny being realized.
"I want to be a civil rights lawyer with a focus on women’s rights and constitutional law," Beale said of the lifelong conviction that has only been strengthened through her involvement in Michigan Law’s chapter of the American Constitution Society (ACS).
The outgoing president of that group, which is dedicated to advancing a progressive interpretation of the Constitution through events and debate, Beale was one of only 32 law students selected nationwide to serve as a Next Generation Leader (NGL).
Launched in 2007, the NGL program identifies and provides support to recent and future law school graduates who have shown leadership in their own chapters as well as a passion for the mission of ACS.
First exposed to ACS as an admitted student during Preview Week, Beale would serve as co-chair and vice president of the group as a 2L before assuming the presidency this past year.
Through her work with ACS, which included bringing Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, to campus to talk about Internet privacy; hosting a panel on the federal judiciary featuring Judge Robert Pratt of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa, and Judge Victoria Roberts of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan; and organizing more than 50 other events this academic year alone, Beale says she has strived to “contribute to the discourse on campus” and excite other Michigan Law students to invest themselves in the issues they take to heart.
To this end, Beale said being named a NGL has served as a "great affirmation that the time and energy I invested in this ACS chapter and in recruiting new leaders has paid off. We have a bumper crop of 1Ls that I’m really excited about."
A graduate of Cornell University, Beale was drawn to Michigan by its "community and collegiality," and says she has not been disappointed.
"This sense of community is really borne out at Michigan in relationships with your professors," the 26-year-old said, "and classmates aren’t just future colleagues, they’re friends."
Although she has found Supreme Court Litigation with Christina Whitman, the Francis A. Allen Collegiate Professor of Law, to be her favorite class, Antidiscrimination Law with Ellen Katz, Ralph W. Aigler Professor of Law; Constitutional Law with Assistant Prof. Julian Mortenson; and First Amendment Law with Don Herzog, Edson R. Sunderland Professor of Law, tie for a close second.
"And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my involvement with the Child Advocacy Law Clinic," she added, calling it her "most formative experience at Michigan" in providing the means for real client representation.
Following graduation, Beale will join the New York firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, but said her continued involvement in ACS as a NGL will allow her to stay connected to the civil rights debate while gaining experience in private practice.
And who knows? Perhaps one day another 6-year-old will find his or her idol in Justice Beale.
Read more feature stories.