Why I Chose W&L Law – Eric Santos

E.SantosWe asked several of our new students to discuss their decision to attend W&L Law. Today, Eric Santos, a graduate of the University of Tampa from Newburgh, New York, takes on the question.

Deciding on where to go to law school is no easy feat.  Although I could not find exactly which school was calling me, I was certain on what I was looking for in a law school: small class sizes, reasonable job prospects, and a place where I could be happy to call home for the next few years.

I applied to Washington and Lee on a whim.  After I put in the effort, I realized that Washington and Lee was the diamond in the rough I was searching for.  Unfortunately, one can only obtain so much online.  I knew I had to visit to be convinced.

Coming from New York, impersonality is almost a trademark.  After my first visit to Lexington, the personable atmosphere in town left me questioning everything I was accustomed to.  I spent my weekend completely boggled by the fact that strangers on the street would spark up conversation to recommend lunch choices to newcomers.  Everyone I met at W&L remembered my name and everything I told them regardless of how many prospective students they were meeting.

Many of us choose a law school with one specific criterion in mind—a job.  I noticed W&L’s placement on the ranking was pretty strong so that was great.  After meeting humble and successful alumni, I understand that rankings can only tell you so much.  The alumni I have met thus far have already displayed an interest in getting me an interview, and I can sleep a little easier knowing that I have actual options.  Since W&L is such a tight-knit group, it is also not uncommon to see professors bending over backwards to make sure their students have summer jobs.

If I were to give only one piece of advice to newly admitted students, it would be to attend the Admitted Students Weekend.  After ASW, I was confident I was making the right choice in attending W&L.  The staff at the Admissions Office not only has an extraordinary knack for name recall but they took the time to hear my passions and encourage my goals.  The Admitted Students Weekend made me very excited to start law school, and I met plenty of brilliant people who remembered me when I actually started.

Ultimately, my biggest concern in choosing a law school was finding a place where I was genuinely happy.  I could not go to a large school to become a number in line waiting to be pumped out.  We have all heard of the stories of competitive environments with booby-trapped notes and pages ripped out of casebooks.  In hindsight, I know I could not have made a wiser choice to avoid that.  The Washington and Lee community is supportive, sincere, and downright honest.  During my first tour at the law school, there was a ten-dollar bill right in the middle of the courtyard—a fresh and crisp bill too.  The only thing holding that prized President down was a rock.  Where I come from, a boulder would not provide ample protection for long.  Perplexed at this point, I asked my Law Ambassador for answers.  He replied, “…Oh that? That’s been there for a week or two.”  It was at that point I understood how seriously the Honor System is taken at Washington and Lee.  Each student witnesses the Honor System in a different way but everyone quickly falls in love with the sense of security and kindness throughout the campus.  Some students like to leave their laptops in the library while they run to the gym, and others will post messages of found items around campus.  Each student is sworn in, proud of the code, and treats it with respect.

Lastly, the reasons why I chose Washington and Lee are vast but why I chose W&L before matriculation is not why I love it now: I see Dean Demleitner every morning at the gym before the sun rises, I stop in the admissions office on a routine basis to forage for candy and catch up with Dean McShay, there is a tire pump for my bike conveniently outside the law school, and last but not least, I have my own carrel in the library to call home so I never have to lose my spot or carry my books home.  Every student at Washington and Lee may love the school for different reasons but one thing that I am certain about is that they all do come to love it.

Now that I am an official W&L Law student, I am very grateful for the decision I made.  I empathize with those losing sleep over the decision of which school to attend but I confidently believe that Washington and Lee will not disappoint. At the end of the day, there is nothing sweeter than knowing that you are exactly where you want to be when law school gets tough.

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