Why I Chose W&L Law, 2012 – #5

We asked seven of our new students to discuss their decision to attend W&L Law. Today, Natalie Wengroff, a graduate of the University of Michigan, from New York City, takes on the question.

By Natalie Wengroff

Natalie WengroffI knew from a young age that I wanted to go to law school, but I was unsure what I wanted to do within the legal field. So even with some summer legal internships in college, I decided to work for a boutique law firm after graduating before taking the dive and applying to law school. The experience was great and ensured that going to law school would be a wise decision, but it raised the age-old question. Where should I go?

As a city girl, born and raised in New York, who then went on to a big university, the thought that I would wind up at a school that was smaller than my freshman year dorm was a shocker to me. I applied to W&L on a whim, due to both their great statistics and reputation in the DC area. But it was Admitted Students Weekend (ASW) that sold me on the school, a school where I could not be happier.

The sense of community that the school provides really drew me in. I had heard horror stories about kids ripping out pages in books to get an edge over other students. But the students I talked with during ASW showed me this was not the W&L mentality. One student explained that she and another student were sharing some extra study guides for one of their classes. This was not the normal atmosphere of law school that I had heard about. The fact that people not only knew each other but also cared and were willing to help each other out really struck me. The dinner that weekend only furthered this thought when students of different years actually knew each other by name, something I would not have expected.

My tour guide explained that W&L Law professors have an open door policy. They do not have set office hours but instead tend to just leave their doors open whenever they are in their office and are available to talk. I appreciated how the open door policy would allow me to approach professors at any time, even if I did not have a question about the material, without feeling frightened. I also liked the fact that for once, a professor would know me by my name rather than by student id. One of my professors has already invited my entire class over for dessert and coffee to get to know us all better. This may not be a typical law school experience, but it is a typical W&L Law experience.

W&L’s strong alumni network has been apparent since my admittance. W&L was the only school where alumni sent me letters congratulating me on my acceptance. Alumni relationships were important to me, especially coming from an undergraduate school that prides itself on alumni loyalty. W&L shows that their alumni really care and are willing to do what they can to help you, which was very reassuring especially because of the current legal market. I was fortunate enough to attend an alumni event while in DC and was shocked both with the turnout and the variety of legal fields represented by W&L Law alumni. The fact that these individuals were congratulating me and wanting to know more about me made me feel secure in my decision to attend W&L.

I must admit that I was very apprehensive about coming to a small town, as I am not the most outdoorsy person and did not envision myself taking advantage of the area’s hiking, biking, and camping. But unlike my friends elsewhere, I have been able to actually meet everyone in my class and know almost everyone’s name. And, for those of us who aren’t as interested in exploring the outdoors, the school does a great job of providing enough activities so that you are never bored. There are intramurals such as Law School Football League on Fridays in the fall, Student Bar Association-sponsored events such as patio party and pig roast, community events like the wine festival, and a host of speakers and special events to keep you entertained. I can honestly say that deciding to come to W&L Law was one of my best decisions.

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