To some people the term “law school” conjures up visions of busy and important people doing busy and important things. Studying. Outlining. Career building. Networking. Usually in suits. But when I first spoke to an undergrad/law alumnus (Class of 1950, 1952 Law), he assured me that W&L was different. Yes, you have the professional school experience, but you take away so much more than that.
When I look back on my time at W&L Law, I don’t think I’ll remember myself in a suit. I will remember being in a football jersey on Friday afternoons playing in the law school football league (LSFL). I spent my first Friday in law school playing touch football with a seemingly random assortment of teammates: from the Chicago debutante/ultimate Frisbee champ straight through from undergrad, to the West Coast sports fanatic/Ivy League graduate, to our fearless captain and native Canadian who had worked overseas before deciding to come to law school in Virginia. We were the rag-tag underdogs, dubbed the “Maple Briefs” in honor of our Canadian contingent. I went into that first game knowing little about my teammates and even less about football. We played a team of 3Ls and were unmercifully slaughtered. But not only did the Maple Briefs go on to make the playoffs that year, those random teammates from the first week of law school became some of the best friends I’ve ever had. Now, nearly three years later their roles have evolved to include moot court co-counsel, fellow journal staff writers, executive board members, and legal clinic partners. Law school is tough enough without cut-throat competition with your classmates. W&L’s strong focus on a collegial environment emphasizes collaboration over competition.
W&L allows me to feel like more than just a student at school. I’m a member of a unique, close-knit community. Having attended W&L for undergrad, I had certain expectations for what I wanted in a law school—small class size, approachable professors, collegial atmosphere—and I found them all, right across the bridge. During 1L year when a classmate had surgery, our legal writing professor brought in a card, drawn in crayon by his six-year-old son, for all of us to sign. Last year, when my friends and I had questions regarding an issue in our Evidence class, our professor didn’t meet us in her office. Instead, she had us over to her house for coffee on a Saturday morning. When I mentioned to a professor that I had recently interviewed for a clerkship position, he immediately called the judge himself to personally recommend me.
But W&L has offered me more than a great quality of life in law school. Because of its small size, W&L doesn’t pigeonhole students into specific extracurricular activities. During my 2L year, I was able to participate in four out of the five moot court competitions offered, write a student Note for the Journal of Civil Rights and Social Justice, and also serve as the Secretary of the Student Bar Association. This year, I’ve gotten a view from the other side of the bench while judging over 80 rounds of oral argument as the administrator for our appellate advocacy moot court competition, coaching a team that will compete at the national moot court competition in April.
When I first started to look at law schools, I confess I wasn’t entirely sold on another three years in Lexington. Now looking back, I couldn’t imagine a better choice. W&L Law has provided me with all the “basics” you’d expect : I learned how to draft a contract, how to conduct a cross-examination, and how to state a negligence claim. And yes, I’ve spent my fair share of time wearing a suit. But what I’ll remember most are the things that happened outside of the classroom: fried pickles at the Palms, live bands on the patio, and winning our first football game (and the celebration that ensued). Being a part of this community is an unforgettable experience. While the activities and curriculum may change, this sense of community is something that transcends generations. It’s what allows me to talk about my law school experience with an alumnus who attended W&L more than half a century ago and feel that, in some ways, we could have been here at the same time. There’s a unique bond shared by everyone who walks the W&L Colonnade, whether it’s four years in undergrad, three years in law school, or seven years in both. These are the times, friends, and experiences I will never forget.