Coming to Law School with a Partner
by Katie Doar
Lexington has been a great place to live, socialize, and even try new things. But three years ago, I was certainly skeptical about moving here from Boston. After Mike chose W&L Law, I thought I would have to be content with a quiet life, and become good at spending time alone, partly because everyone even remotely associated with a law degree seemed to hail me down in the months before our move, warning me of the impending disappearance of my partner--and of a lot of other things besides.
Mike '21L and Katie Doar
"You'll end up doing all the laundry," a stranger in an airport bar predicted. After he bought my beer, he concluded that law school was a hellish time for his marriage because he never saw his wife. I didn't ask if they were still together.
For the first month or so in Lexington, I did feel isolated and lonely. But once I put in the least effort to involve myself-whether it was going to gym classes, law events, city meetings or coffee shops-I quickly made connections that led to opportunities, employment, and friendship.
Now, when I walk around town (even during the pandemic), I almost always run into someone that I know. And, as Mike enters his final semester of law school and I look back on my time here, I realize that the range of experiences I've had have been wider than they would have been in a big city.
For example, I have written for one of two local papers and, in doing so, learned the ins and outs of local government and met a wide array of interesting people, from professors to farmers to mayors to hippies, business owners, journalists, and more. I have taught writing classes at Southern Virginia University, and become incorporated into the law school community by working in law admissions and communications. I walk to work, swim in rivers, run on trails, and write in coffeeshops. In March 2020, I was just beginning to worry that I had overburdened my social calendar-and was on the point of resolving to say "no" to more events and gig jobs-when the pandemic happened.
In truth, I was so grateful to be here when it did. Rockbridge County has no shortage of wide-open spaces, take-out options, and friendly people, all of which made these difficult times easier.
Here are some thoughts from other law partners and law students about moving to Lexington.
"Lexington offers an opportunity to immerse yourself in a truly unique community that has something for everyone, if you are willing to look for it.
For me, this has looked like volunteering with Main Street Lexington in the annual Christmas parade as well at other town events. This has looked like joining the local fitness community through the running events put on by Lex Running, Flex Fitness, Red Newt Bikes, and Center of Gravity Yoga. These places really do become a family and go behind physical fitness.
This has looked like taking advantage of all the outdoor activities available within the town limits and only a short drive away--hiking in George Washington and Jefferson National Forest, camping and swimming at lake Moomaw, kayaking the James River, floating and fishing in the Murray River, running in Brushy Trails and along the Chessie, horseback riding the Glenwood Horse Trail, cycling through the county, swimming at Goshen pass, and endless dog walks in the back campus woods.
This has looked like participating in the vibrant arts and textile community with lessons and events organized by Make it Sew and the art galleries downtown.
Lastly, this has looked like truly getting to know my farmers and being able to buy food directly from them---Seasons Yield bread barn days, cycling farm to farm on the North Rockbridge Trail, weekly shops at the farmers market, getting to know the butcher and owners of Cattleman's, and tasting wine and beer at Washington Purveyors every Friday.
This community truly gives back ten-fold to what you put into it."
- Katie Pogue
"Especially during covid, it was nice to be in a smaller town with lower rates of transmission. We've adopted two kittens from the Rockbridge SPCA, there are great running trails and hiking options throughout the Blueridge mountains, there are a ton of great dining spots (shout out to the Red Hen). I really enjoyed all the law school activities we were able to participate in prior to covid including but not limited to the pig roast, flag football, fall fest, and the auction/silent auction that occurred in December (2019)."
- Stuart Childs
"I won't lie, I was super resistant to moving to Lexington. When my husband was choosing law schools, I specifically asked for a Trader Joe's, airport, and Title I schools within a 30-minute radius, and well ... here we are! There are a lot of things I miss about urban living, but there are also many things I have loved since moving here like taking a stroll through downtown, Friday nights with Napa Thai, Woods Creek Trail and so many great hikes, Flex Fitness Studio, and running into someone everywhere I go. Lexington is not what I expected or initially wanted, but it's allowed us to make a home, build a new community, and use this transition for more growth and self-discovery."
- Sarah Dagen
"While we were worried about making the move to such a small town at first, we are now so grateful we spent our three years of law school at Washington & Lee. I was able to find two wonderful and flexible jobs at non-profit organizations that allowed me to put down roots and immerse myself in the community. The size and walkability of Lexington made it possible for my spouse and I to have weekly coffee and lunch dates throughout our three years here and spend more time together than we thought was possible during law school."
- Katherine Emrich
"Jamie and I love living in Lexington. We met as undergrads here, and Jamie taught in Lexington for a year after she graduated. We collectively had nine total years in Lexington before we came back for law school. By the time I graduate, we'll have a collective 15 years here! That's a long time, but I think it reflects how strongly we feel about this town.
Lexington is a great place to be for a couple during law school. It's large enough that you won't be bored. There are lots of fun things to do, from hiking in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, to going to the drive-in, and everything in between. But it's also small enough that it's possible for people to know you here. If you make the slightest effort to become involved in the community, the community will embrace you. By way of example, Jamie and I had a baby in March. Our church community at Trinity Methodist was incredible - they brought us meals for three straight weeks. It's not to say that this couldn't happen in D.C., or New York, or any other place. But in a place like Lexington, I think it's easier."
- Lee Brett '13, '21L