Charlotte Law students join UND Law for spring semester

Charlotte Law transfer students

The college hockey team at the University of North Dakota annually draws national attention to the school on the northern plains. When third-year Charlotte School of Law students Nathan Osberger and Michael Sloane were forced to look for a place to finish their final semester of law school, they reflected on watching their favorite team from UND.

Osberger said he has always been a fan of UND hockey, so he looked to North Dakota for an option to finish law school. Osberger and Sloane, friends in law school at Charlotte, share a love of college hockey. “I remember watching the college hockey tournament when we were studying for finals last year,” said Sloane. “When all this was going on I talked to Nate and he said he had reached out to North Dakota and spoke to Assistant Dean Brad Parrish. He said he will let us know if they will accept all our credits.” Both applied for admission, had numerous contacts and waited in anticipation of the critical notification on their status. “When we found out we were admitted, they were going to take all our credits and we would be able to graduate in May, we were in,” said Sloane. They dropped everything, informed internship employers of their pending move, immediately booked flights and were on their way to Grand Forks.

A friend and classmate of Osberger and Sloane, Linton Clarke, was on vacation in Maldives sitting on the beach when he saw Sloane’s Facebook post about being admitted to UND Law with full acceptance of the credits. “I applied to other schools, but when I saw they were going to North Dakota, I thought, I have been to North Dakota and like North Dakota, so I applied and was admitted the next day,” said Clarke. Sloane and Osberger joked they were the guinea pigs and had to do all the hard work to gain admission while Clarke had it easy. Clarke had some previous connections to North Dakota through his parents working in the state so was familiar with North Dakota, which he says made it easier for him to make the move.

Osberger, Clarke and Sloane, as third-year students, were in an extremely difficult situation because they were one semester away from completing the J.D. degree and being able to sit for the Bar Exam. The completion of the degree was critical for keeping job offers they had already secured after graduation. Sloane said, “It was a really tough situation. I basically felt like I hit rock bottom and didn’t know what I was going to do.”

Zainab Ching-Yin

A fourth student also made the 1,500 mile trek north from Charlotte to Grand Forks. Zainab Ching-Yin, a second-year student, was familiar with UND Law because she had been admitted when she was first considering attending law school. As she made the decision to transfer law schools, she called the Student Life Office with the hope of having another chance to attend. Ching-Yin updated her information and was readmitted for the spring semester.

It is unusual for law schools to receive mid-year transfer students, but UND School of Law welcomed these four special additions to the student body for spring semester with open arms. “I first started hearing from the students in late December and early January, so I told them to submit an application and we’d see what we could do for them,” said Parrish. “After reviewing their transcripts and reading their application materials, we decided to take them in and give them a chance to finish their studies with us. While we typically haven’t considered transfer applications from students in their second or third years of law school, this was obviously a unique circumstance. We wanted to do whatever we reasonably could to help these students out of a difficult situation.”

As the four new students arrived in Grand Forks, they were greeted with below zero temperatures outside but received a warm welcome inside the law school from the staff and faculty ready to help them make the transition to their new home. “Dean Parrish picked me up from the airport, took me to get my keys, brought me to the dorm and took me to Walmart to buy some boots and warm clothing,” said Ching-Yin. “He even gave me his gloves because it was so cold.”

They showed up with just their luggage, and an assurance they could complete their degree as the spring semester was beginning. All four were appreciative of what everyone at UND did to make it work for them on such short notice. “They worked on weekends trying to get things situated and made calls to us after hours. Mr. Hoffman picked us up at the airport and he even picked us up in the morning to get us to school because we didn’t have a car—it is unheard of,” said Sloane.

They also found a tight knit and welcoming law school community. They described the students as a close-knit family that is very collaborative and caring for each other and the relationship between students and faculty as very positive. “The relationship between the professors and the students seems like they are close and that the professors are really happy to be here and are happy to help the students,” said Sloane. “You can definitely tell that in the classroom. Everyone in the classroom has high energy of trying to help.” They felt welcomed by the students and appreciated the help to get started and make good in a tough situation.

“What we really like about North Dakota is all of the deans are very hands on and more interactive," said Clarke. “We even had personal conversations with the dean of the law school, Dean Rand, so that was really a big difference for me."

“We were delighted to welcome our transfer students,” said Rand. “They immediately became actively engaged with our community and embraced our UND Law spirit. We're lucky to have them, even if only for a short time. They are part of our UND Law family.”

The four have grown closer together through their shared experience and have developed new friendships that will last a lifetime. As the semester nears its end, the future is bright for the four transfers. Ching-Yin will return next fall to finish her final year. Osberger and Sloane will return home to Maryland and New York respectively to take the Bar Exam and begin working in legal positions they had already lined up. Clarke has decided to stay in the region accepting a position in Rapid City, South Dakota with the Pennington County Public Defender’s Office.

For Sloane and Osberger, they also had the experience of attending their first North Dakota hockey game in person the weekend they arrived in Grand Forks. A tradition for the students at UND is to line up at the doors of the Ralph Engelstad Arena hours before they open in order to secure the best student seats available. The Charlotte transplants found themselves lined up in below zero temperatures facing a 40 below wind chill but knowing things had worked out and they had a place they could complete their legal education. Said Osberger, “It was the best day of my life!”