Pre Law Institute
1100 North Hall
445 West 59th Street
New York, NY 10019
The Pre Law Institute
The Pre Law Institute was created by President Jeremy Travis in December 2005 with the mission to "identify, motivate and prepare John Jay students and alumni who are interested in preparing for a career in law." What distinguishes the Pre Law Institute from undergraduate pre-professional and graduate advisement offices and career development centers is its emphasis on creating skill-building programs which support and strengthen students' undergraduate academic achievement and enhance their performance on the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) while actively exposing students to information about the rigors of a legal education and a legal career. Most importantly, Pre Law Institute programs are designed to focus students on these important intellectual and professional development processes as early as their freshman year. By focusing on students' early development of the critical thinking, reading, and writing skills they will need to perform well in college and law school, the Pre Law Institute creates a path for success for students early in their undergraduate careers.
The Pre Law Institute also provides direct advisement services to John Jay College students and alumnae/i whether they are exploring the possibility of a legal career or are engaged in the law school application process. Faculty pre law advisors engage students in one – to – one sessions to guide them through the many preparatory steps all pre law students are encouraged to take. Advisors help students get actively involved in pre law activities, such as attending the LSAC Law School Forum, joining the John Jay Law Society, and attending workshops tailor-made for John Jay College pre law students. In addition to individualized advisement, the Institute has formed many working partnerships with area attorneys, law schools and academic departments to enhance learning opportunities for all John Jay College pre law students. The Pre Law Institute has also developed learning communities that use intersession courses to encourage peer support, while helping students develop critical analytical skills.
Elton Beckett, Faculty Pre Law Advisor
Elton Beckett specializes in voice and speech for effective communication in performance and business. Prior to his John Jay appointment, he was a principal in Vocal Solutions, LLC, a speech and media consultancy providing business professionals with speech and media preparation. He has been a member of the faculty in the Department of Speech and Theater at Long Island University – Brooklyn campus, the Collaborative Arts Project (CAP21), a studio of Tisch School of the Arts at NYU and at Theater for the Handicapped. A designated Practitioner of the Lessac Voice and Body Work by the Lessac Training and Research Institute, current interests include African-American identity in early American theater literature and performance, preservation and codification of African-American dialect in performance as well as adaptation of the Lessac Voice and Speech training to facilitate English Language Learners. These interests emerge from Beckett’s life experiences as a professional actor, dancer, singer, producer, director, theater administrator, voice trainer and teacher. He was a founding member and performer of both the acclaimed Jomandi Production Company in Atlanta and New Perspectives Theater in NYC. Beckett has performed extensively in television, commercials, voice-over and on stage. He is a member of Actors Equity Association (AEA), American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the Voice and Speech Trainers Association (VASTA). Beckett teaches African-American theatre history, Voice for the Professional and Public Speaking as Civic Engagement. Professor Beckett is the 2012 recipient of the John Jay College Distinguished Teaching Prize. As a Faculty Pre Law Advisor, he counsels students preparing for law school.
Elizabeth Cayton Broccoli, JD, Pre Law Coordinator
Ms. Broccoli is the Pre Law Coordinator of the Pre Law Institute. She holds a Juris Doctor from Tulane University Law School and a Bachelor of Arts in History and Political Science from Boston University. Additionally, she has studied international criminal law and human rights in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Ms. Broccoli is an attorney licensed to practice law in the state of North Carolina. Prior to coming to John Jay, she served as a staff attorney at a non-profit law firm in Asheville, North Carolina where she represented low-income clients in civil legal matters. Ms. Broccoli counsels students preparing for law school.
James Cauthen , Faculty Pre Law Advisor
James Cauthen, Chairperson and Associate Professor of Political Science, received a BA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a JD from the University of Virginia, and a MA and PhD from the University of Kentucky. His research focuses on individual rights under state constitutions and state high court decision making. Professor Cauthen's articles have appeared in a variety of journals, including Judicature, Justice System Journal, Albany Law Review (State Constitutional Commentary), Journal of Church and State, Criminal Justice Policy Review and American Review of Politics. His current research focuses on the impact of state constitutions on parochial school aid policies. He teaches courses on judicial process and state and federal constitutional law and is the recipient of an Outstanding Teacher Award from Pi Sigma Alpha Honor Society. As a Faculty Pre Law Advisor, he counsels students preparing for law school.
Vielka V. Holness, JD, MPA, Director
Ms. Holness is the Director of the Pre Law Institute and the Office of Fellowship and Scholarship Opportunities. Ms. Holness is the former President of the Northeast Association of Pre Law Advisors (NAPLA). She received a Bachelor of Arts from New York University (Politics and Psychology), a Juris Doctor from the University of Michigan School of Law and a Master's of Public Administration from Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs. Ms. Holness has significant experience as a litigator and employment lawyer. After practicing law for several years she worked with New York area law schools directing law school career development centers and participating in law school admission committees. Ms. Holness leads the efforts of the Pre Law Institute to provide academic skill-enhancing programs for John Jay pre law students and manages the daily operation of the Institute. She provides one-to-one pre law advisement to students and alumnae/i and hosts the Pre Law Institute Facebook Fan Page.
Melanie Monzon, Administrative Assistant
Melanie Monzon is the Administrative Assistant of the Pre Law Institute and the Office of Fellowship and Scholarship Opportunities. Melanie attended John Jay College of Criminal Justice, majoring in Criminology. In 2013, Melanie graduated with summa cum laude honors, the Alex Smith Award for Excellence in Criminology, and the Interdisciplinary Studies Program Graduation Award. While an undergraduate, Melanie worked at, the law firm of Orrick, Herrington, & Sutcliffe LLP. Melanie provides administrative support to the Pre Law Institute and the Office of Fellowship and Scholarship Opportunities and assists students in making use of both offices’ services. Currently, Melanie also works as an office assistant at Lipsig, Shapey, Manus, and Moverman P.C.
Erin Thompson, Faculty Pre Law Advisor
Ms. Thompson received a Bachelor of Arts in Art History and Philosophy from Barnard College. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and had magna cum laude distinction. She received a Master of Arts for Art History from Columbia University, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Ms. Thompson received an M. Philosophy (Art History), from Columbia University, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Her Dissertation: “Images of Ritual Mockery on Greek Vases” used visual imagery, textual sources, and anthropological comparison to explain the purpose of Greek ritual mockery. She received a Certificate in Global Business Law, Institut d’Études Politiques and Paris I (Sorbonne) from the Columbia Law School Global Alliance Program in international business law. Ms. Thompson holds a Juris Doctor from Columbia Law School. She is a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar. She did an Internship with Judge McGuire (1st Dep’t, New York). Ms. Thompson was part of the Jessup International Moot Court. Her research focuses on the damage done to humanity's shared heritage by the looting and smuggling of antiquities. As a Faculty Pre Law Advisor, she counsels students preparing for law school.