We asked eight of our current first-year students to discuss their decision to attend W&L Law. Today, Candice Lanez, a graduate of the University of Delaware from Freehold, New Jersey, takes on the question.
The year following my graduation from the University of Delaware, I was quite certain of several things. I knew that I wanted to be a lawyer. I knew I wanted to attend a top law school. And I knew I wanted to attend law school in a large city.
Well, some things change. After all, Lexington is not exactly a large city. Needless to say, this was quite surprising to me (as well as my friends and family) because I came from an undergraduate institution that enrolled about 6,000 students in my class alone–nearly seventeen times the size of the entire law school. Although I thought I was convinced that a city school would best serve my interests, I am truly happy I decided to attend W&L.
How did I go from wanting to attend a law school in a large city to choosing a law school in a small town? There were several things that swayed me. First, I knew law school was obviously not going to be easy. Students study dense and difficult materials, and I was looking for a school where I would have the support necessary to be successful. W&L really emphasized the fact that its professors were accessible and that they actually wanted to meet with students. The current students with whom I spoke confirmed this, and I felt like such personalized instruction would help make the workload manageable. This kind of learning is a total departure from the kind of anonymity I experienced as an undergrad, but, having now been here for half of a semester, I truly believe the individualized attention I receive from my professors is fruitful. Within the first few weeks of school, professors easily recognize you in the hallways and know your name. I recently handed in my first open memo, and I (and every other student in my class – about 20 students total) will meet individually with our professor to discuss our work. Having these one-on-one meetings and receiving personalized feedback is certainly going to improve my legal writing skills, and it absolutely helps make learning to how to write like a lawyer (one of the hardest things about the first year of law school) much easier.
I also knew I wanted to go somewhere where I could focus on law school and not feel like I was in constant competition with my classmates. I visited W&L before making my decision, and, after talking with current students about their experiences, I felt the size of the law school fostered a real sense of community. That has easily been the case during my first few months here. I find it easy to work with my peers. The hostile, competitive, cut-throat environment typical of other law schools is nonexistent here. This sense of community is furthered by the Honor System. Because of this system, students are generally comfortable leaving laptops, books, and personal belongings anywhere in the school. The second week of class my friend accidentally left a five dollar bill in a classroom, and two days later, it was still sitting in the same place where she had left it. I am happy that I go to a school where people take matters of character and integrity so seriously.
And while I initially felt I had to be in a big city, the town of Lexington actually grew on me. After thinking it through, I knew wanted to be somewhere where I could have a life but also feel like I had the time and energy to really focus on law school. Lexington makes that possible. There are definitely things to do here. Lexington offers enough restaurants, shops and activities for students to enjoy during their free time. However, there are not so many things going on that it becomes distracting. The law school also does a great job in providing opportunities to keep students occupied outside of the classroom. For example, during orientation, the school hosted a picnic so all of the new students could meet professors and other students. The Student Bar Association hosts any number of events including a pig roast, cocktail parties, Oktoberfest, and a Halloween party. And that doesn’t even include all the other events and programming put on by other law student organizations. I will say, law school football (LSFL as it is known around here) has definitely been one of my favorite activities so far. Every Friday in the fall, teams compete against each other, and it’s just a nice way to spend time and socialize with classmates in a stress-free environment.
Although I thought of myself as a city person, being here thus far has proven that I can absolutely foster my academic endeavors and be happy in a small town and a small law school. I am confident that my decision to attend W&L will be rewarding and I cannot wait to experience law school here for the next two and a half years.