We asked eight of our current first-year students to discuss their decision to attend W&L Law. Today, Joshua Laguerre, a graduate of Rhode Island College from Providence, Rhode Island, takes on the question.
As a prospective law student in the process of whittling down the schools I planned on applying to, I decided to attend an LSAC forum to get a feel for the admissions counselors. At that point in the application process I was pretty sure where I was going to apply. Before checking out of the forum I decided to speak with Brett Twitty, Director of Admissions at W&L. Almost an hour had passed, and it was then that I decided to place W&L on my list.
I’m from a small state (the smallest state), Rhode Island, however, our capitol city, Providence, has a large metropolitan population. Being successful in such an environment requires one to understand the importance of relationship building. After talking to Brett I was convinced that W&L both shared my commitment to and understood the importance of building relationships, even with prospective students. I thought that if he was willing to talk to me for such a long period of time as a prospective student imagine the amount of attention and support I would receive if I actually attended the school.
Following the forum, I made sure to look into what W&L had to offer. It was during my exploration that I decided to seriously consider the school. Given the state of the economy in 2010, I was looking for three things in a law school: I wanted to attend a law school that made a concerted effort to prepare their students for the practice of law. I also wanted to attend a law school with a reputation for high quality teaching. Lastly, I wanted to go to a school with a strong alumni base.
Although W&L’s third year curriculum was relatively new, I really appreciated the school’s efforts to innovate and adapt to the realities of a changing legal industry. I knew (and I still believe) the third year curriculum would set me apart from my colleagues at other law schools, a distinction I felt would be important during these challenging economic times. All law students take the same foundational courses. Other law schools offer various specialty courses. How many law schools offer a third year curriculum that allows its students to exercise professional judgment through both real and simulated client experiences? I don’t think many, if any. I felt (and still feel) this preparation would make my transition to practice much easier and that employers would recognize that W&L grads were more practice-ready than other law students.
W&L is also known for its high quality teaching, it professors’ open door policies, and those same professors’ willingness to go out of their way to help students. As a prospective student, I knew law school was going to be challenging, so why not experience this challenge with professors and practitioners who were committed to doing everything they could to make it as smooth a ride as possible? I went to an undergraduate institution that valued teaching, and my professors there made sure they were available if needed. I found this system of teaching to be very conducive to learning and essential to my grasping of the material we discussed in class. In law school you are essentially learning a foreign language and learning how to think differently. Being able to walk into a professor’s office without having to worry about being rushed out or whether the professor might think less of you because of a question you asked is powerful. At W&L the professors actually want to talk to the students. They want to engage with the students. I felt this culture would make learning the law easier (but I’m not suggesting law school is easy).
Coupled with the third year curriculum and high-quality teaching, W&L also had a strong national alumni base. After being accepted and deciding to enroll, I reached out to several alumni, and literally every single one responded. I was impressed by such a high response rate. I asked them about their experience at W&L, what drew them to W&L, and their thoughts about how W&L prepared them for practice. Every encounter was pleasant, and each one told me not to hesitate to contact him if I ever needed anything. One alumnus was glad that I reached out to him. He wanted me to keep in touch because he wished he had someone in the profession to reach out to when he was in law school. These experiences convinced me that W&L alumni were willing to take time out their busy lives to answer questions and do whatever they could to help a fellow member of the W&L family.
Finally, my admitted students open house further reinforced my decision. I’m not sure which factor influenced me the most but the friendly locals, the other students, the supportive administration and staff, the tour guides, the beautiful town, and the gorgeous weather together further all played a role in cementing my decision. It was April when I arrived in Lexington; sunny, very warm, and the scenery was like something you see on a postcard. The hotel staff and the locals always greeted me and wanted to talk. One local went out of their way to assist me with directions and tips on where to go for various needs. I remember meeting a number of 1L’s and 2L’s who told me “everything” I needed to know about life in Lexington and the law school. I appreciated their honesty. One group of upperclassmen offered to take a number of students out that evening, and my interactions with the other law students that evening led me to believe that I made the right decision.
I am now six weeks into the W&L law experience, and I can say that it has been everything I expected. Although it did take me some time to transition to this small town, Lexington has actually grown on me. The professors here are amazing, and the students here are very friendly. During orientation week I made a lot of friends, but what surprised me was how friendly everyone was. The upperclassmen were friendly. The professors were friendly. Administrators and staff members were friendly. Everyone seemed genuinely excited to meet us. A couple weeks later, I remember talking with Professor Murchison about meeting with him. I was then swamped in work, and never followed up. Later the next week, we saw each other in the hall, and instead of him just saying “hi,” he made sure to remind me that he didn’t forget that I wanted to meet with him, and told me when he’d like to meet. That’s just the kind of place this is.