by Jessica Unger
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, first-year student, Jessica Unger, takes on the topic.
1L year is racing forward and the end is almost in sight. With that in mind, I thought I would take a moment to reflect on my school choice. Luckily for me, I have not once regretted my decision to attend W&L.
In college I sat through 100-person classes and even 300-person classes, so, for my law school experience, I decided I wanted a more personal education. My time at W&L has been just that: personal. Here, professors, deans, and your classmates know your name. The school offers a very collegial atmosphere that allows everyone to feel like much more than a face in a crowd.
When I was choosing a law school, one of the things that impressed me most about W&L was the small class size and, in particular, the first-year “small section.” Both semesters of your first year you will have a small section of 20-25 students for one of your classes. This class will also double as your legal writing section. I discussed my first semester small section in an earlier post, but I mention it again, because this class provides an incredible opportunity to truly get to know your professor and have him or her get to know you. And aside from the small section, even your largest class at W&L Law will still be relatively small. Class size was one of the most important factors for me, and the familiarity and connectedness that result from living and learning in such an intimate setting should not be overlooked.
I also realized I wanted to learn from people who would take an interest in me and were genuinely concerned with my growth and development not only as a law student but also as a person. The professors at W&L are of extremely high quality. And they all truly care about teaching. Because of this, they are readily accessible outside of class and many have an open door policy. This is something I’ve really appreciated during my first-year. And this support extends beyond class-related questions. I still meet with one of my professors from last semester for both academic and career advice. She, along with many of the professors here, takes an active interest in the well-being of her students, and she has been happy to continue helping me even after our class was over. As a student, this support means a lot, and I love that my professors are so invested in life here at W&L.
In addition, I wanted to be in a place where I felt genuinely comfortable. I have always felt that Lexington is one of those places you tend to get a very strong feeling about when you visit. I came to visit and I knew instantly that this was the school for me. First of all, W&L is an amazing small town. Yes, it is a small town. But it also has an actual “downtown” area filled with restaurants, coffee shops, and galleries. And although it does not have all the same things larger cities have, I have found Lexington to be perfect for me as a law student. Things are just easier here. Living in Lexington means not having to worry about things like heavy traffic or high cost of living. All of those small things add up, and not having to deal with them gives me even more time to focus on my job: being a full-time law student.
The honor system and its impact on even in the most basic of daily occurrences on campus (leaving purses, wallets, laptops, etc. out on student carrels in the library) also made me think that this was not only a place where I could be comfortable, but I could also do my best work. One of the things that first caught my eye about the honor system was the ability to write IOU’s at our law school café. I’ve mentioned this in previous posts, but I really think it is something that perfectly represents the atmosphere at W&L. The benefits of the honor system are tangible, whether it be in the IOU’s or being able to take our exams anywhere in the law building. The honor system gives us a lot of privileges, but these privileges also come with real responsibilities. The honor system only works if every single student buys into it. And everyone here does. It is taken very seriously and many people outside of our community realize that. W&L carries that reputation far beyond graduation. It is an honor to be a part of a community that so values character and integrity and has for such a long time.
And lastly, I was impressed by the strength of the alumni network. Since starting here, I have found that current students and alumni are eager to help each other in any way possible. An example of this is our alumni mentoring program. Every participating 1L is paired with a W&L Law alum according to regional and practice preferences. This is an especially great program because it allows 1Ls to network with and receive support and guidance from someone familiar with W&L Law. My mentor has been amazing so far – I have spoken with her on the phone and through e-mail, and she has been eager to help me in any way she can. I have contacted her continuously about both academic and career questions, and she always responds with thoughtful and extremely useful advice. As someone who did not come to law school with a lot of legal mentors, I have truly appreciated being connected with one who has not only been through law school, but has been through law school at W&L.