I am from Utah and I plan on returning there to practice law after graduation. Why did I choose Washington and Lee over schools that were closer to home? Read on.
I, like many pre-law students, got caught up in US News law school rankings, thinking I should set my sights on the highest ranked school where I would be accepted. My approach changed when I talked to some partners in law firms who told me that it didn’t matter where their new associates went to law school. Instead, the partners were concerned that their new associates had practical skills and were personable and reliable.
I saw an article about Washington and Lee’s revolutionary third-year program in the Washington Post, and I was impressed. When I started comparing Washington and Lee’s program against other, similarly ranked schools, I was surprised. I read articles from this very blog, talked with alumni about their experiences, and finally, visited the law school in Lexington.
Here are a few reasons why I chose Washington and Lee University School of Law, and why I would choose it again:
- The third-year program. Read about it in the news, or ask a third-year student. It focuses on experiential legal education more than time in the classroom.
- Small class sizes. With just over 400 students, class sizes are small, and my professors know me. Dean Demleitner greets me by name, and knows my wife’s name, too.
- Every student has a carrel. Some law schools have lockers, but having a carrel is like owning a little bit of the school. It’s a place where you can always go to study and keep all your books, food, or anything.
- The honor system. My undergrad school had an “honor policy,” but it was nothing like Washington and Lee’s. The honor system here is 100% student-run and student-enforced, and it is a tradition that is taken seriously. Take a look around the school and you’ll see laptops left in carrels overnight and bikes without locks. The library is always open. During exams, you don’t need special software or proctors. People trust you, and you can trust them.
- The law school community. Last week, my wife gave birth to our first child. I was afraid I would fall behind in my classes, but my professors went out of their way to record classes and help me catch up. My classmates shared their notes. In fact, my small section threw a surprise baby shower for my wife. Law students play football together every Friday in the fall, and softball in the spring.
- Lexington. Last, but not least, Lexington is a great community. People in Lexington smile at you when you pass on the sidewalk. It’s small enough to feel close-knit but large enough to have all the necessities. It has plenty of history, but doesn’t feel too touristy. In short, it’s a great place to lead a balanced life during law school.
These, and many other things, set Washington and Lee apart from other law schools. In the end, I chose Washington and Lee because it gives me the right tools and environment to become the lawyer I want to be.