We asked several of our new students to discuss their decision to attend W&L Law. Today, Christina Tacoronti, a graduate of the University of West Georgia from Fayetteville, Georgia, takes on the question.
In the fourth grade, one of our class assignments was to create a picture of what we wanted to be when we grew up. My picture depicted a woman in a business suit holding a briefcase in one hand and a paintbrush in the other hand. I knew then that I wanted to either be a lawyer or an artist—never mind the fact that my last formal art class was in elementary school. As I navigated through middle, high, and undergraduate school, my desire to enter into the legal profession continued to grow.
Despite knowing I wanted to practice law, the idea of starting Law School was a little bit more intimidating for me than many. For a wide variety of reasons, I entered the work force after graduation instead of going straight to law school. When I started my law school search, I had spent five years growing my career. Walking away from that was difficult. Because of my hesitation, I knew I had to find a Law School that fit my personality while also helping me advance in my chosen career—and these were just the beginning of my laundry list of requirements.
First, I had a select list of regions I was willing to entertain for law school. The country life appealed to me, as long as I could travel to the city when I needed relief. Washington and Lee provides the perfect location. When I’m not studying, I can choose between hiking, rafting, wine-tasting, and camping or spending a few short hours in the car to enjoy in Washington, D.C. or Richmond. Plus, there are a number of mid-sized cities just over an hour away. And you don’t know charm until you’ve seen a historic downtown in this part of the state.
Other than location, another factor I based my decision on was the school’s curriculum. Washington and Lee outshone its competition with its third-year curriculum, but also because of the accessibility of the professors and the vast alumni network. Washington and Lee, through its third-year immersion program, small class size, its professor’s open-door policy, and clinics and externships, has set up a program that will prepare you for life as a lawyer. The school also maintains an impressive alumni network, and the number of alumnus genuinely interested in speaking with students and spending the time to help students find fulfilling work is impressive.
Lastly, what solidified my decision about attending Washington and Lee was the student-run honor system. When I visited Washington and Lee, I distinctly remember visiting the reading room and seeing several laptops left on the tables. “Is this for real?” I thought to myself. The answer is yes. Students administer the University’s honor system, and it is taken seriously. The benefit is that I know I don’t have to constantly lock up my belongings, I can trust that my peers are acting honestly, and I know that grades are a reflection of our effort and understanding—not unfair advantages. For those prospective students who have not attended a school with such a vigorous honor system, I invite you to visit Washington and Lee to see ours. It’s truly amazing.
As a first-year student with several weeks of school under my belt, Washington and Lee has done nothing but exceeded my expectations. I have already talked with my professors several times, left my laptop out during a Law School Football League game, reached out to alumnus, and enjoyed the surrounding outdoors. I have little doubt that I made the right choice and will leave Washington and Lee equipped with the skills and knowledge to reach my full potential.