We asked eight of our current first-year students to discuss their decision to attend W&L Law. Today, Stephanie Fox, a graduate of Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee, takes on the question.
When I started applying to law school, I was looking for two very specific attributes: a small school, like my undergraduate institution, where small classes and professors who maintained an open door policy were the norm, and a good place to continue my passion for German while studying law. After researching many schools, I found that I had set some pretty tough standards. Most schools either had really good opportunities to learn about international law but had large classes, or had small classes and therefore fewer of elective offerings.
However, as soon as I really looked into Washington and Lee’s program, I knew I had found a school that far exceeded my criteria. Visiting the school for an Admitted Students Open House in March finalized my decision. The students I talked with were genuinely happy with their classes and professors. Several students told me most professors didn’t even have set office hours, you could just stop by whenever you had a question. One student even talked about how much her professor had gone out of his way to help her get a summer job.
Students and administrators also discussed the Honor System at W&L. Coming from an undergraduate institution with an honor system, I was used to learning in an environment where I could trust my classmates. In college, I could leave my dorm room unlocked and book bag unattended. In choosing a law school, I knew I wanted to go somewhere where I would enjoy similar freedoms. Therefore, I was pleasantly surprised to see that students were comfortable leaving their laptops, purses, wallets, textbooks, notes and any number of other things unattended at their carrels. On my tour, we also walked by the Brief Stop, the law school café, where students can get food and drinks. I was amazed to learn that even after the Brief Stop has closed for the day, students can still grab something to eat. All they have to do is leave a note saying what they took and come back and pay for it later.
I was also struck by just how involved W&L students were. All of the students talked about the numerous opportunities to get involved and the number of extracurricular organizations available at the school (I think there are over 50 at the law school currently). Given my interest in Germany, I found the German Law Journal particularly appealing. Washington and Lee is the only law school in the country to have a journal that focuses solely on German and European legal issues. I was further convinced W&L was the right school for me after speaking with Professor Russell Miller, the co-founder and co-editor of the journal. During the Admitted Students Open House, I met with Professor Miller and discussed options for tying together Germany and law. His passion and enthusiasm were contagious, and he was genuinely interested in my goals.
Though my search for law school felt demanding at times, I knew after researching and visiting that Washington and Lee was the perfect fit. And, so far, my decision has definitely been the right one for me. My professors always seem willing to help me with any questions I have. My small section professor has already had my class over for dessert as his house. And even though Professor Miller is not currently one of my professors, he’s still met with me several times to discuss my goals for the future. I really couldn’t imagine a better law school for me.