A View from a Prospective Law Student
Alison Taylor (A&S ’07)
With some traveling from as far away as Chicago, a small group of prospective students came together September 29 to engage in informal discussion with the Director of Admissions, Jason Wu Trujillo ’01, undertake a student-lead tour, and sit in on a typical 1L class. While all three parts of the information session confirm the strong academics and reputation of UVA Law, the tour led by 3L student, Shannon Lang, showed what really makes the Law School stand out among the rest—the relationship between faculty and students.
The transition into law school is often a difficult one, no matter the school. UVA recognizes this and, unlike other schools, reaches out to first year students by holding one of their core classes in a much smaller setting. The smaller class size helps students bond amongst themselves and with their professor, who often becomes an advisor figure who maintains a close relationship to the student throughout his or her three years. Lang still keeps in close contact with her small section professor and fondly told of the time when he surprised her by accepting her invitation to a football tailgate and spending the afternoon out with his students. UVA Law advocates these close faculty/student relationships, which start as a 1L and strengthen continually over the following years.
In order to maintain the community unique to UVA, professors take their student’s opinions seriously, and work to implement changes that prove beneficial for them. Using surveys and open dialogues, students can express concerns and work with the faculty and administration to reach compromise. Recalling one of her own experiences, Lang explained how professors responded to students concerned about the overlap of on-grounds interviewing and classes. To accommodate these students and relieve them of added stress, professors agreed to move on-grounds interviews to the week prior to the start of classes so students would not have to juggle the two simultaneously. This mutual respect between faculty and students at UVA Law helps both work together and learn from one another. Professors come to Charlottesville to focus on scholarship and teaching, and the students readily take advantage of both.
What makes UVA unique among other law schools also helped Lang stand out among other job applicants, which ultimately benefited her in the job search. Participating in programs like “Take Your Professor to Lunch,” Lang connected with her professors both inside and outside of the classroom. After accepting an offer for her second year summer internship, the interviewer told her that everyone was blown away by her faculty recommendations and how her professors knew her on a level beyond academia. Certainly, students must take the initiative to reach out to faculty, but for those who do, their three years of law school will truly be a unique experience.