Ashley Waterbury '15L
Ashley Waterbury '15L
I am truly grateful for my three years at Washington and Lee. I have been challenged, humbled, supported, and mentored by a wonderful community of faculty, law students, and staff. Now that graduation is behind me, I have come up with three pieces of advice I would share with any incoming W&L law student.
Seize opportunities to get to know your professors. They are the greatest asset to the school, both because of their eagerness to help students and their academic expertise. Many professors welcome students to walk into their office without an appointment. They are willing to help you get in touch with practitioners in order to learn more about an area of law or a job opportunity. Additionally, they are excellent scholars who can challenge you to analyze legal issues in new ways. Take advantage of W&L's small size and embrace the chance to learn from them in a one-on-one setting.
Keep an open mind on your practice areas of interest and explore academic opportunities outside of your comfort zone. Law school is likely to be one of the last times that you will be a full time student. Even if you enter law school with a strong belief of what type of law you want to do, I encourage you to take a class or pursue an extracurricular that deviates from your area of interest. If you know you want to do transactional work, participate in a mock trial competition. If you feel strongly that you want to be a public defender, take at least one business course. By trying new things, you learn more about your strengths and desires. As a student, you have the freedom to try many different things. At the very least, you will leave law school with a more well-rounded legal background.
Embrace living in a small town nestled in the Shenandoah Valley. Not many people have the opportunity to live in a historic town and with beautiful views everywhere you look. Living in a city with a population under 10,000 allows you to easily develop close relationships with your classmates and neighbors. Take advantage of the natural beauty surrounding Lexington and get to know people outside of the law school. Whether you go hiking on House Mountain, walk along the Maury River, or stroll the brick sidewalks in town, W&L's locale allows students to enjoy things absent from big city life.
My time at W&L has opened my eyes to the brilliance of my professors, the unexpected journeys of discerning your career goals, and the joys of small town living. All of these lessons were fostered by the close-knit community and unique opportunities W&L has to offer. Explore them!