Day 5: University of Virginia School of Law

Walked: 12,000
Driven: 155 mi. (2.5 hrs)
Spent: $38
Free meals: 3/3

So after my last post, I left the Panera in the shopping center at the bottom of the hill and walked back up to UVa Law School where I gave myself plenty of time to figure out where it was that I was meeting Gillian, the 2L that had agreed to show me around. I did a slow loop of the first floor (the building is a squared hallway like Peck Hall at MTSU) and looked at student group bulletin boards, journal notices, etc. I slipped into the library after someone swiped their keycard and took a look around there, too. I met Gillian outside after we both texted each other what we were wearing.

Gillian was the nicest. First we ended up having a lot in common with one another, and second she ended up answering questions that I didn’t have but should have. Third we ended our tour of the school by sitting outside admissions and her giving me some insider tips for the application process (since she was not only a UVa law student but an admissions officer in her previous professional life). I had heard some of the things but was very grateful to be receiving the advice if only for the fact that it validated what I had heard and seemed to indicate that Gillian liked me. We sat in on her Wills, Trusts and Estates class (easier to follow that Civil Procedure but not as easy to follow as Criminal Procedure) and then headed into town for lunch at an excellent kabob place where I had some difficulty refraining from photographing my food. And the university picked it up! We sat there much, much longer than she had time for to talk about our aspirations and our thoughts on public interest, and our outing reminded me that Charlottesville, while not D.C., has a lot to offer, including an Amtrak station.

Advice from Gillian on the admissions process:

1. Use your offers from various schools as leverage with others. When you receive an additional $10,000/yr from one, let the others know in order to encourage matching. In a best-case scenario, you may be able to instigate a bidding war and end up with much more money than you thought.

2. Keep in contact with admissions. Email them questions (real ones) that you’re having in order to stick in their mind. (Mom: “Be a mind-sticker.”) This is especially important if you’ve been wait-listed but are still very interested in attending.

3. Do the optional essays, like the “Why ___________ ?” essays. (Why Georgetown, Why Harvard, Why UVa…) Hers was instrumental in getting her off the wait-list and through the doors at UVa.

After our tour, I met back up with Constance who was in between sessions. I bought some thank you cards and a little candy to leave for Gillian as well as the admissions officer, Cordell Faulk, who had gone to the trouble of coordinating a private tour on what was otherwise, for him, an exceptionally busy day. Constance and I hit up the “Supreme Alums” banquet (wine, cheese, beer, snacks, desserts) where we were able to talk to several individuals who had clerked for a sitting Supreme Court justice. And oh my word. Everyone in that room wanted to do the same thing, and a lot of us looked at the alums who had as superstars.

Constance and I drove down to the main drag downtown and she treated me (or UVa did, as she claims) to a fantastic dinner at “Commonwealth.” (I enjoyed myself. I’m no foodie so I’ll leave it to TripAdvisor.) We talked over how tough it was to have such a fantastic day at UVa coming off of an amazing reception at Georgetown.

Primary concerns with UVa include a pretty conservative student population and the location, which leaves a little to be desired as far as a comparison to Georgetown (as well as having seen a fair number of students hailing from one of MTSU’s fiercest moot court rivals).

The primary benefit seems to be the sense of community and the commitment of professors and staff to turning out students with excellent job prospects. Gillian at one point told me that the school’s “honor code” means that she leaves her things where ever, when ever, with no fear of them getting pinched. (Earlier, I had balked to see a fairly large stack of expensive-looking text books sitting unattended in the hall.) In a similar vein, during one of Constance’s events, some students had made a point of asking about UVa’s policy of hiring recent grads to inflate its U.S. News and World Report (USNWR) rankings. Whether it’s gaming the system or not, Constance and I agreed that the end result would be a higher degree of security for us. Is it gaming the system? Or taking care of students in tough times? I would love to hear thoughts if any of my informed, law-school bound/attending colleagues are reading. (Note: We heard a similar plaint from that Georgetown 1L at the bar, but the February issue of The Jurist featured an article listing the top 21 schools “guilty” of this practice. While Georgetown was #4, UVa wasn’t listed, so beware of such puffery.)

Update (03/29/13) : Above the Law recently posted a suprisingly positive article on UVa’s practice of hiring recent grads. ATL also offers that UVa is–in fact–the #1 “culprit,” claiming to have gotten its stats from Law School Transparency, a pretty well-regarded, non-profit organization founded by recent law school grads. 

I am actually finishing up this draft two days later so I won’t end with the itinerary tomorrow, and instead try to get a weekend re-cap up on the blog before then. Constance and I are in for the night eating beignets, drinking tea, and reading law school info. I might take a break to peruse that article, but I’ll be back. See you soon!

2 thoughts on “Day 5: University of Virginia School of Law

  1. Darling girl — What a delight to read of your adventures! It sounds like you’ve done exactly what you’ve set out to do; to get a feel for all the schools, confirm or not your impression of them, meet a few folks. Now comes the hard part.

    You know I’m not a believer in the supernatural, so my only advice will go something like this. You’re not looking for THE right choice. There is no one right choice. You will thrive and succeed because of you, not because of your school or your professors or your peers. If you make the call and then later figure out you aren’t happy with it, you’ll recover. You’ll punt and move on and that won’t have been a failure, but just another step in the journey.

    I’m so proud of you, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds. Thank you for sharing it with me!

    I have my guess, but I won’t tell you til after you decide. Blog, blog, then blog some more. It’s gonna be a helluva ride.



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