We asked seven of our new students to discuss their decision to attend W&L Law. Today, Sarah Curry, a graduate of Johns Hopkins University from Oak Hill, Virginia, takes on the question.
By Sarah Curry
Choosing a law school can be intimidating. At this point in our lives, we’re wise enough to know that choosing an institution in which to pursue higher education is no insignificant task. When I was sitting where you are now, I had my mind set on two things: getting into a good law school and making sure that that good law school was situated in a city. So, sitting where I am now – in charming Lexington – I suppose I have some explaining to do.
I, like many of my classmates, didn’t make up my mind to commit to W&L until I visited the school during an Admitted Students Weekend. I visited mostly because I had been so impressed with the application process and the general vibe of amiability that the admissions staff had presented. Admittedly, I didn’t actually think that I would wind up here before I first visited. I grew up just outside of DC, went to college in Baltimore and spent the three years between graduation and starting law school living in either DC or London. I couldn’t imagine being so far removed from urban life. That all changed when I visited, however. And here’s why…
Law school is tough. There’s no way of getting around that. Having gone to a rigorous undergraduate institution, I was already well-versed in the art of library camping by the time I started shopping for law schools. What intimidated me even more than the potential workload, however, was the atmosphere of intense competition that many of the other schools I visited seemed to exude. Stories of students circulating intentionally sabotaged notes and ripping pages out of casebooks struck me not only as unnecessary, but also as extremely discouraging. I’ve always believed that education is about competing with yourself more so than it is about competing with others (even though the latter is somewhat inevitable). You won’t find any of those horror stories here. That was something that I realized very quickly after speaking with current students on my first trip to Lexington. It didn’t take long for me to figure out that W&L is not just a school, it is a community.
Students here understand that classmates are not the enemy. Our classmates are one of our most valuable resources. Having spent a good three hours in my Torts study group this past weekend, I can personally attest to that fact. It’s easy to feel a bit lost at times (19th century case law will do that to you), but the truth is you’re never alone. If you have questions that your fellow classmates can’t answer, your professors will make themselves available to help in whatever ways they can. W&L is unique in that the students and faculty alike create a support system that eases the pressure that all law students feel in their first year.
Furthermore, I quickly came to realize that Lexington’s location is by no means a drawback. On the contrary, it has proved to be extremely advantageous. Everyone here is in the same boat, but in a city, you will inevitably be surrounded by friends outside of law school who cannot seem to understand why you aren’t able to go to happy hour five nights a week. All your friends here get it. Fewer distractions and a more understanding support system means more sanity. More sanity is never a bad thing.
That having been said, we’re not library mole-people either. W&L is very good about providing ways for everyone to get out and stretch their legs and let their brains relax a bit. The law school football league is one of the best examples of these efforts. Every Friday during the fall semester, students leave their afternoon classes, don their respective jerseys and hit the playing field. Not only is the football league a great way to get to know classmates during your 1L year, it’s just a great way to unwind. The Student Bar Association (SBA) also plans various other social events throughout the school year including a pig roast, Halloween party and a Barrister’s Ball. As VP of the 1L class, I’m currently in the midst of helping to plan several of these upcoming events.
In the end, I chose W&L because I felt at home when I visited. That feeling has never changed. The first few months have been challenging of course, but I have not once felt as though I don’t belong here. The welcoming and supportive atmosphere that W&L provides makes the challenge enjoyable, not insurmountable. I will be forever grateful for that.