Terrence Austin '15L

Terrence Austin, 15L, is from Richmond, VA. He graduated from Virginia Tech in 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. This past academic year he was a student attorney in the Virginia Capital Case Clearinghouse Clinic and a Burks Scholar. After graduation, he will be moving to Baltimore, MD to clerk for the Honorable Pamela J. White of the Baltimore City Circuit Court. His career interests include public policy, civil rights, and indigent criminal defense.

Three years later, and it has been an experience to never forget. I am not the same person that sat in the Moot Court Room and listened intently as Professor King played "99 Problems" during 1L Orientation to demonstrate how inaccurately popular culture portrays the law. I am not the same person that sat in Professor Spencer's class as he described the esoteric differences between Erie and Hanna. I am not the same person that quickly wrote down the words "bargaining naughtiness" as Professor Kirgis explained unconscionability. I am not the same person that nervously argued my first client's cause (albeit a fictitious cause) in front of Professor Drumbl. I have grown and matured in ways far greater than I ever anticipated. Law school has changed me.

However, this is a welcome change. Despite the difficult times, including struggling to comprehend new terms and concepts, cold calls, and four hour long exams, I am grateful for my time here at W&L. It is actually quite ironic that I ended up here. I remember during my senior year of college that I did not want to go to another small town for law school after having spent the previous four years in Blacksburg, Virginia at Virginia Tech. I would have never guessed that I would spend three more years, not only in a small town, but in a town smaller than Blacksburg. Lexington certainly is not my ideal place to live, but it has been a unique place to further my education and character. I am unsure if I would be the person I am today had I decided to turn down W&L's acceptance offer to attend a different law school.

I have also gained much from the faculty here. So many of my professors have helped me learn more about myself intellectually as well as personally. Professors King, Bruck, and Seaman have been phenomenal mentors. I enrolled in each of their classes at different points during the academic term, and there were all skilled educators. However, what meant more to me was the fact that they were there for me outside of class time. On more than one occasion, each of them received emails or visits from me with questions about concepts we covered in class. They listened to me express frustration and confusion about what type of work I should pursue. They also were there to reassure me that I am capable of succeeding, despite any doubts and concerns I had about my future. Their advice and support was so very critical for me, a student that is the first of his family to attend law school. It meant a great deal to me that each of them took time to meet, talk, and listen to me no matter the topic. Each of them made me feel much more comfortable here, because I knew they cared; they made this place a home away from home.

So many of my friends here have also made this a home away from home. From Eric to Brandon, to Ashley, and so many others, you all have helped a young man who came here by himself feeling so very alone feel as if he had a family here. For that, I am forever grateful. I thank you for our friendship, our laughs, the times we hung out together, our inside jokes, and our talks. The memories we shared will stay with me. I will not forget them. Without you all this experience would have not been the same. I cannot express in words how much it means to me that you were there for me as a friend.

I am not the same person that I was when I started my law school career. I gained specialized education and training. I developed into a more mature young man that is able and ready to pursue my career. I have made friends that I will stay in contact with far after my time at Sydney Lewis Hall ends. I am a better person because of who I became during my time here, and what I learned about myself here. Only two words describe my feelings for my time at W&L: Thank you.