I couldn’t believe it. The response showed up in my inbox within minutes. I figured it had to be a mistake. It just had to be. Mr. Toles was likely hunting jackals in South Africa, or maybe trekking through the Khyber Pass or wait, even more likely, spelunking his way through the Carlsbad Caverns- you know something super awesome and super exotic, something that big time lawyer guys do. He certainly wasn’t wasting any of his time responding to a 1L- oh wait, at that point I wasn’t even a 1L, I was lowlier than that – I was a prospective 1L. I deduced that Mr. Toles’ prompt email response was just one of those annoying, send you from hero to zero, auto-reply emails- the kind that inform you that the desired recipient is off somewhere doing something incredible and that if you need immediate assistance you should call Rick or Sue or some other monosyllabic stranger. I was totally wrong. Mr. Toles had written me back.
William Toles graduated from W&L Law in 1995. Last summer, when I was trying to decide where to go to law school, I called Dean Brett Twitty and asked for the contact information for some law alumni in the Dallas area. Dean Twitty emailed Mr. Toles’ information to me and naturally I displayed no coolness and emailed him immediately. After a brief email exchange we set up a meeting where I met with Mr. Toles face to face and was also introduced to Morgan Meyer, another W& L alumnus. Mr. Toles and Mr. Meyer were amazing. They were extremely candid about their time at W&L and discussed their classes, the social environment, and their job opportunities upon graduation. The meeting not only convinced me that W&L was where I needed to be, but also helped set the gears in motion that ultimately led to a summer job.
The meeting was a game changer. Through contacts that Mr. Toles and Mr. Meyer helped provide, I talked to somebody who mentioned to somebody that I was somebody who wanted to practice in Dallas. Eventually I learned of a 1L summer associate position at Bracewell and Giuliani. I applied immediately, interviewed, and miraculously landed the job. This summer I will be working in various departments at Bracewell’s Dallas office. Ultimately I hope to do public finance, or maybe white collar defense or maybe who knows- I’m a 1L and I have no idea what the heck I’ll end up doing. Bracewell, to some extent, should help me figure it all out.
Mr. Toles and Mr. Meyer were instrumental in helping me navigate through the maze that is the job search process. The OCP (Office of Career Planning) also provided a lot of assistance. OCP helped convert the mess that was my resume into something that actually made sense to employers. Ms. Lorri Olan also helped introduce me to the W&L alumni network. I would be remiss to not mention the OCP-sponsored etiquette training–I now know more about fork selection and soup-scooping than you could ever imagine.
A lot of law school administrators, at least a lot of the administrators at schools that I was considering before coming to W&L, tout the strength of their alumni network. At other schools I was shown pie charts and placement tables and spiffy videos that show alumni all over the world and their support for their school. At W&L, that spiffy video came to me. By virtue of sitting down and talking to a stranger (that’s me guys), two W&L Law alumni showed me the true strength of an alumni network. A couple of handshakes, a candid conversation and a free club sandwich with sweet, delicious garlic fries, was all that I needed to be convinced.
Nearly all alumni responded to my emails and phone calls. At times it took several attempts but it was well worth it. What impressed me most was that not only were the alumni willing to correspond via phone and email, but also many insisted on meeting in person. I admit that those first few interactions were a little awkward but it all seems to have worked out. The alumni here have helped open doors that I couldn’t even see before meeting with them. One day I hope to return the favor.