With less than a month left in the 2013-2014 academic year, we asked several of our third-year students to reflect upon their time at W&L Law. Today, Randall Miller takes on the topic.
After three years, I know without a doubt that Washington and Lee School of Law was the perfect school for me. The people at W&L are amazing. I am so grateful to be a part of the W&L family – because unlike other schools, we do feel like a family. I have met so many wonderful people both during my time in Lexington and while I was away from campus through W&L connections. When I broke my arm during my first week at W&L, I had one classmate drive me to doctor visits in Roanoke, another made me a peach cobbler, and others frequently forwarded me notes from class. I know that if I need anything, I have friends at W&L who are willing to help. I have listened to similar stories from W&L alumni, and I can testify that W&L has attracted and continues to attract kind students.
I am also very thankful to have taken classes under such distinguished professors who took the time to invest in my professional development and career path. For example, I was amazed when one professor, who is a frequently cited expert in international dispute resolution materials, wrote a letter of recommendation on my behalf with a very tight 48 hour turnaround. In fact, this professor drafted my recommendation during the two days between her trips to South Korea and Europe. Other professors generously connected me with practicing attorneys in my fields of interest, reserved seats for me at a U.S. Supreme Court oral argument, and provided extensive feedback on my writing projects. Another professor graciously offered feedback on two pieces of writing that I wanted to publish even after he had advised me on my student note for nine months. Before attending W&L, I heard stories about the open-door policy and how professors frequently made time outside of class to assist students in their professional pursuits. As a 3L, I can personally attest to the approachability and benevolence of the faculty here. These anecdotes provide just a few of the many examples of the faculty members going above and beyond their roles as educators.
Much like the professors, I have met numerous W&L alumni who have taken time out of their busy schedules to chat with me about my career goals on the phone, over a cup of coffee, and during lunch. Some of these conversations led to friendships, more introductions, internships, and one resulted in a permanent job after graduation. For instance, both my internship with the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works and my internship with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission resulted from reaching out to W&L alumni who introduced me to some of their colleagues on Capitol Hill and at federal agencies. Just before interviewing with several law firms in Dallas, I met with an alumnus at a different firm. We stayed in touch, and I ended up working at his law firm for part of my 2L summer. I enjoyed the experience so much that I will be returning to work at this firm after graduation.
I believe much of the alumni support stems from the rewarding experience that many of them had during their time in Lexington. For me, the honor system has been an incredible aspect of law school at W&L. I frequently leave my laptop, IPad, books, and notes at my carrel between classes, and each day, I return to find them undisturbed. The honor system is a way of life at W&L. I trust my classmates and professors, and they trust me to do what is right. Professors have loaned me books and articles without doubting that I would return them. My classmates have placed coffee makers at their carrels and sent class-wide e-mails offering free coffee and cookies. I will greatly miss these moments that are so unique to W&L.
In addition to meeting wonderful alumni during my job search, I found that the W&L name opened a number of doors to opportunities that I did not think were possible. During my time as a law student, I was chosen to participate in a distinguished legal fellowship in Phoenix, AZ where I met hundreds of law students and practitioners from around the globe. Thanks to the professor who wrote my letter of recommendation between her transcontinental flights, I also participated in a graduate fellowship with an NGO at the United Nations in New York. In addition, I participated in internships with two nonprofit organizations working in both the areas of policy and appellate work.
W&L has allowed me to take part in many valuable experiences and enabled me to forge lasting friendships both inside and outside of the classroom. For me, the friendships, honor system, and quality of education are three things that I will always value from my experience at W&L.