As previously noted, over the next few weeks, we will feature a number of blog posts by current students in which they discuss why they chose W&L Law. Today, second-year student, Negin Farahmand, takes on the topic.
I chose W&L Law because of its community, and what this strong sense of connection amongst both students and faculty would mean for my law school experience.
I graduated from the University of Virginia and while it is a large school, it is located in a fairly small town. As a result, when I was applying to law schools, I thought I wanted to go to law school in a large city. I applied to W&L, however, because, even though it is in a small town, I knew it was a great law school in Virginia, which is where I ultimately wanted (and still want) to practice.
After getting accepted to various law schools, I began my law school tours and visits. I visited several city schools and while I loved the city, I felt overwhelmed by the number of students and large class sizes. When I visited W&L, I had a very different experience. Compared to other law schools I visited, W&L made me feel the most welcomed. The friendly atmosphere among students and faculty was obvious, comforting and in marked contrast to the overt competition of other schools, and this made me feel less anxious about beginning my law school career. On my tour, the tour guide talked to other students who passed, and I noticed students throughout the building interacting with one another. I came away from my tour with a sense that W&L really offered a close-knit community, and, coming from a larger university, this is something I really appreciated.
I also knew that being at a small school would allow me to create stronger connections with my professors. I wanted to attend a school where I could rely on professors to be not only teachers, but also, mentors. I knew that the smaller class sizes at W&L would allow me to develop these types of relationships, and that these connections would be valuable as I moved forward in law school and in my career.
During my first two years at W&L I have been able to cultivate several close relationships with professors. I found my first-year small sections particularly helpful in this regard. Both first and second semester, all 1Ls are assigned to a small-section. This is a substantive first-year law class (such as Contracts or Torts) in which students also learn legal writing, and the professor teaching the course, not an upper-level student, leads the legal writing instruction. Each semester I was able to rely on my small-section professor for advice on my legal writing, but also for recommendations with job-search strategies and even course selection for my second year. My small-section professor from the fall semester, Professor Howard, even had our entire class over to her home for dinner at the end of the semester.
The honor system was another aspect of the W&L community I found compelling. During my law school search, I heard all sorts of stories about the extreme competitiveness that exists in law school and the drastic measures students will sometimes pursue to do well. I knew I wanted to be in an environment where I could really focus on doing the best work possible and I never had to worry about other students lying to professors or cheating on exams. I wanted to be in a place where I knew my grades would truly reflect the time and effort I put in. Starting law school is stressful enough and I knew that the honor system at W&L would go along way towards easing some of that stress.
And after two years, I can confidently say the honor system is absolutely one of the things that makes life at W&L Law so easy. I really do leave my computer in the library when I go home, and I have never questioned my classmates’ work. Another small benefit of the honor system I’ve come to love is being able to run a tab at the Brief Stop, the law school café. These might seem like small things, but they are good examples of how the honor system helps reduce (and in certain cases, eliminate) some of the stressors law school can create.
I also realized this sense of community was not limited to just Lexington. It also included a very dedicated, national alumni base. In choosing a law school, I wanted to go to a school where people genuinely enjoyed their law school experience and continued to support the school and its students even as they moved forward in their careers. Several professors and family friends told me about the considerable strength of the W&L alumni network, and, as a prospective student, when I spoke with alumni, they only had positive things to say about the law school. W&L alumni tend to be very dedicated to the school and are willing to help W&L students, and I wanted to be part of a law school where this kind of support was standard.
When it came time to find a summer internship for my 1L summer, I emailed several alumni listed in the alumni database (a listing of alumni who have volunteered to be contacted by students who are interested in working in their region, practice area, etc.), and they talked to me about their careers and were able to give me advice on how to move forward with my job search. I actually ended up interviewing and working with an alumnus during my 1L summer at the Federal Bureau of Prisons who I still rely on as a mentor.
So, yes, I didn’t end up in a large city, but my time in law school has been the better for it. W&L has absolutely been the place I thought it would be, and I have really benefited from its small size and setting. I have formed the kinds of relationships I hoped to form. I can rely on my classmates for notes if I ever miss a class and have found that my professors always have time to answer my questions. I am involved. Next year, I will serve as President of the Student Bar Association. After considering my options, I can confidently say, I have not once regretted my decision to attend W&L Law.