Charlotte Rhodes '16L

Charlotte Rhodes '16L, from Huntsville, AL, graduated from SMU in 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics and a Bachelor of Science in Economics. She served as Executive Editor of the Law Review. After graduation, she will be working as an associate with BakerHostetler in Cleveland, OH.

As Meredith Grey once said on Grey's Anatomy, "When something begins, you often have no idea how it is going to end." This best sums up how I felt three years ago before starting law school at Washington and Lee. I never thought I was capable of writing a 60-page paper or easily writing a 10-page memorandum. I thought being cold called in class would be the most terrifying experience and something to which I would never grow accustomed. I never thought I would actualy look forward to exam time. And now as I am finishing up my third year, I realize how wrong I was about all of those thoughts.

I came to law school with majors in mathematics and economics--not exactly the most common majors for law students.  I wrote at most a few papers each semester, and I was worried legal writing would be my biggest challenge. But my legal writing classes during my 1L year transformed me into an effective legal writer, preparing me to succeed in my summer internships and to successfully write a 72-page Note published in the Washington and Lee Law Review. My legal writing professors, Professor Murchison and Professor Grunewald, took the time to help me develop my writing style. They were patient and willing to meet one-on-one to answer my questions and edit my memoranda. I still think of Professor Grunewald's advice to my small section to make our writing "punchy!"

All of my professors have positively affected my law school experience. During my 2L year, Professor Miller had lunch once a week with small groups from our constitutional law class. On one morning we even had class outside. During my 3L year, Chief Justice Lemons, my appellate advocacy professor, arranged a trip for the class to the U.S. Supreme Court to hear oral arguments and tour the Court. This trip was one of the highlights of law school for me. At the end of my Deals practicum class, Professor Bruner invited our class to his home for dinner to celebrate the end of 3L year. I am so grateful to have spent three years at a school where the professors genuinely care about their students, are committed to every student's success, and create memorable experiences for each student.

While law students love to complain about exam time and having only one exam determine their grades for a class, I came to enjoy the time when classes had ended, reading had subsided, and studying was the only item on my to-do list. My friends and I reserved study rooms in the undergraduate library, brought snacks, and hunkered down in a room all day and evening. Each afternoon, we ventured back to the Brief Stop for the exam study snack breaks the Law School provided during exams. I often think back to studying for our constitutional law exam as we drew pictures on the white board to remember every case we read (i.e., a chicken for Skinner v. Oklahoma; a loaf of bread for Lochner v. New York, etc.). Our laughter and goofiness during this time are memories I will always cherish, and these are the memories that overshadow the stress I felt during those times.

My time at law school, though, was more than attending classes and taking exams. It was enriched by the extracurricular activities in which I participated. Friday afternoons during the fall semesters brought Law School Football League--better known as LSFL. Everyone gathered on the lawn for flag football, and it was the only time we were cutthroat and competitive. Serving on the White Book Review Committee was also a rewarding experience. I worked with eight other students, both law students and undergraduates, to review and propose changes to the White Book, the document governing the University's Honor System. It was the perfect mix of applying the skills we learn in law school--critical thinking and clear and concise writing--and having a break from reading for class. During my 3L year, I was on the Voting Regulations Board Committee with three undergraduates. Crossing the bridge and being involved in student government elections provided a much-needed reprieve from class.

Finally, Lexington, with all its charm and eccentricities, provided the perfect setting for law school. Three years ago, I wondered whether I would survive in Lexington after attending college in Dallas, Texas at SMU. I never thought this city girl could be a small town girl, but now I couldn't imagine spending three years of law school anywhere else. The backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains, walks in the countryside, familiar faces and friends in Kroger, restaurants, and shops in town give Lexington a charm that is hard to find elsewhere. Lexington struck the perfect balance of having things to do but also being free from distractions when you needed a quiet weekend to catch up on work.

Though I had no idea how it would end when I first started, Washington and Lee has been an incredible, life-changing, and rewarding experience. It has been everything I could have hoped for and more.