By: Anthony Watson
Athletic Department Legal Extern
Hello blogging universe! I am very pleased and excited to be apart of this ongoing dialogue. When W&L Associate Athletic Director Shana Levine asked me to opine on my thoughts and experiences as a legal extern, I was a bit uncertain. I have never contributed to a blog, and the opportunity to share my perspectives through this type of medium is new territory for me. So with this in mind, I think a quick introduction is in order.
I am currently a W&L third-year law school student from Fort Worth, TX. An interesting factoid (and an effective conversation starter among coaches) is that prior to attending law school, I played football for one year at Baylor University and tennis the following year at Jackson State University (it’s a long story and potentially blog worthy, but I’d be glad to share it with anyone who stops by the athletic department office on Monday afternoons this semester). Additionally, I am basking in the recent glory of having won the Law School Football League championship (Go L-SACK!!!). For anyone who is unaware of the fervent intensity involved from week to week in the LSFL, it is amongst one of the extracurricular highlights of the school year (and yes, after overcoming two years of playoff disappointments, I can FINALLY graduate in peace, lol). Ok, so having laid out my general background (and the fact that I equate the quality of my legal education with LSFL success) I can now begin to delve into the experiences I’ve obtained while externing for the athletic department. First off, it has been a sincere pleasure working in the athletic department office with Director of Athletics Jan Hathorn, Bryan Snyder, Carolyn Mayo, Emily Nicely and of course Shana. There is a reason that Washington and Lee student-athletes have enjoyed such tremendous success on the playing fields and in the classroom, and I truly believe that it originates from the leadership and assistance provided by the individuals listed above. I have also enjoyed the frequent contact and discussions with various coaches throughout the department as they stop by the office or during staff meetings. Their insight, diligence, and dedication to their respective sports and student-athletes serve as an additional testament to the prevailing culture of success within the W&L athletic department.
The legal externship program is a collaborative educational initiative between the W&L law school and various employers throughout the state of Virginia. The overarching goal of the program is to give participating students a practical legal working experience prior to their graduation. The program includes student placements with state courts, law firms, corporations (two of my classmates got a really cool placement with Rosetta Stone), and government entities. Although I’m not totally sure as to which area of law that I’d like to practice after graduation, I’ve pretty much decided that I don’t think I’ll fall into the conventional Perry Mason/Matlock category. In fact, I was overjoyed when I met Shana and discovered that while she possessed a law degree, she wasn’t restricted to working in the traditional legal setting. She has incorporated her training as an attorney with her passion for collegiate athletics and fashioned it into a successful career in higher education and athletic compliance. Needless to say, as a former athlete I was eager to garner any experience that would allow me to the merge my education and interests into a rewarding and fulfilling career. And thus far, I have not been disappointed. I have had the opportunity to sit in on staff meetings and observe the inner workings of the athletic department and how it strives to serve the best interests of its student athletes. I have attended meetings discussing Title IX compliance and how coaches and administrative figures can actively help to ensure the safety and well-being of both students and the university’s interests. Additionally, I have become more knowledgeable about the NCAA governing process and the varying compliance issues that an athletic department must address on a daily basis. I have a profound respect for the department’s ability to the balance multiple moving parts and keep everything in order so that W&L can continue to experience athletic and academic success.
Having this alternative educational experience has really helped to broaden my perspective about possible career options. As I near the end of my placement, I can honestly say that the externship process has accomplished its main goal of exposing me to an area of interest that I may not have considered otherwise. I am pleased and thankful for the opportunity to work with such wonderful people and gain lasting experience and insight.
During this time of thanks, I hope everyone is able to enjoy each passing moment with family, friends and loved ones. It has been a pleasure writing to you all, and I hope that everyone has a wonderful and blessed holiday season. HAPPY THANKSGIVING!