from The Bridge: Fall/Winter 2011 issue
Andrea K. Wahlquist '95L, a partner at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, a top-10 law firm in New York City, demonstrated her support of the Third-Year Program with a commitment of $100,000 for the Third-Year Law Building Addition. Wahlquist, a Virginia native who attended the University of Virginia as an undergraduate, looked for a more intimate environment for her law school experience.
"Washington and Lee has maintained a family atmosphere. It was very helpful to have that support system," says Wahlquist. "At W&L, you are with a small group of people in an isolated area, which prepares you to work in a limited-sized organization like a law firm where you have to get along with your colleagues," she explains. "W&L selects people with a strong value system who respect collegiality. It was an important part of my success at Simpson Thacher, a New York City law firm known for its collegiality."
While Wahlquist made some of her best friends at W&L and credits the school with a good deal of her professional success, she would have liked to have been able to benefit from the new Third-Year Program. "Law school often does not prepare students for the actual practice of law at a law firm," she observes. "I took tax law classes in law school, which gave me a solid, substantive background, but when I got to Simpson Thacher, I realized practicing law was more than just knowing the rules.
"In a more remote environment like Lexington, it is extra important to have practicums in which students can learn what it is like to practice law," continues Wahlquist. "In a law practice you have deadlines, multiple clients to whom you have to be responsive, and multiple legal and business issues you have to deal with simultaneously. Practicums will help the students become better lawyers."
Wahlquist says, "When Elizabeth Branner (director of Law School Advancement) came to NYC and asked if I would contribute, I thought, well, if that is what it is going to take, I'm willing and able to do it. The W&L Law School community is worth supporting and preserving."