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Tell me why

The question on everybody’s mind has been: “Why do you want to go to law school?” And of course the question on everybody’s mind here in South Royalton has been: “Why did you choose Vermont Law School?”

Let’s travel back in time a bit, shall we? Picture it: Chicago. 1988. “Parents Just Don’t Understand” was on the radio. We rolled our jeans and teased our bangs. Eastern Europe was on the brink of the fall of communism. I was in 5thgrade. Life was good.

Summer 1988. Look at that innocent face. Budding conservationist or terrorizer of minnows? You be the judge.

In school, I was enrolled in a special enrichment program where we studied all matter of interesting and exciting subjects: architecture, oceanography, archaeology, and … wait for it … LAW. No, we didn’t read Marbury v. Madison or McCulloch v. Maryland or even write up contracts. Rather, we nailed down the basics: What’s a plaintiff? What’s a defendant? How many people are on a jury? What happens in a trial? Of course at the end of all these units, we would take a fun field trip. So, what’s more fun than a trip to the Cook County Circuit Court and Correctional Facility? Sit in on a trial? Tour a prison? What a learning experience! Oh, sigh, I fell in love with the law and made it my life’s mission to fight for justice, right?

NO! It was SCARY! We were told not to look any inmates in the eyes, because they may do unspeakable things! We sat in on an assault and battery trial where this one big dude with a baseball bat beat this other big dude who didn’t have a baseball bat! The judges were mean, the attorneys were mean, the buildings were fortresses and we were all so small! And, no, this was not one of those “stay in school and don’t do drugs or you could end up in prison” kind of field trips. This was one of those “stay in school and don’t do drugs because you might get to be a lawyer or a judge someday” kind of field trips. Lawyer or judge? Me? Me with my little braids?

Let’s flash forward, shall we? Picture it: Vermont. 2005. “Parents Just Don’t Understand” was on the radio (because I love 80s music). We sported North Face gear and Smart Wool socks. We could enter Canada without a passport and take advantage of the amazing exchange rate. I was in graduate school. Life was still good.

Summer 2005. Bigger, tougher, and ready to drill into some adobe bricks.

My future-husband and I took a little road trip from Burlington to South Royalton to tour Debevoise Hall. He was writing a thesis on sustainable preservation practices. I’d heard about the law school from one of my professors but still had doubts about its actual existence. Scary lawyers in rural Vermont? Please. Who are you kidding.

But NO! It was NOT scary! It was so quaint! We toured this beautiful old Victorian-era schoolhouse that had been lovingly restored and filled with soft carpets, locally-made furniture, and old photographs. The cupola atop the building was being turned into a space for quite reflection, and colorful rocking chairs crowded the back porch. The people were friendly and funny and enthusiastic. The place was cozy and welcoming and uplifting! Wait, so maybe law can be cozy and welcoming and uplifting too! (You may think the word “cozy” is stretching it a bit, but go and curl up by the fire with the “Zoning and Planning Law Report” and you’ll see what I mean.) Although we were there to revel in the beautiful historic architecture, I couldn’t help thinking: Lawyer or judge! Me! Me with my little braids!

While it took me six years to make it back to VLS, I never shook the warm and fuzzy feeling. So why did I decide to go to law school? Well, I didn’t really want to go to law school. I just wanted to go to Vermont Law School. And why Vermont Law School? Because they made me believe that my little braids and I can make a big impact on the world.

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