When you attend 1L Orientation, the first question almost everyone you meet will ask is “Why did you choose to attend KU Law?” To be honest, when I was first asked this question, I did not have a good answer. My first answer, “It was cheaper than other schools and would not leave me with life-long debt” did not strike the right tone and resulted in a few odd looks. Many people I met during orientation lived in the Kansas City area for the majority of their lives and were curious why someone from Ohio would move across the country for law school. So, my first answer failed to satisfy most people’s curiosity and caused more questions given I moved during a once-in-a-century pandemic.
After completing 1L Orientation, I decided I needed to think about why I chose to move to Kansas and more importantly why I was at KU Law. So, I spent that last weekend of freedom before classes started, thinking about why I made this leap of faith and chose to move to an area where I had no friends or family. Initially, I thought about all of the metrics that law schools publish, employment outcomes, graduating debt load, and out-of-state opportunities.
None of these answers felt genuine and were not a factor when I chose to apply to KU Law. Instead, I started to try and remember a conversation I had with a former professor of mine when I was an undergrad. All of those years ago I was considering attending law school but was not sure about it. I knew it was expensive and time-consuming and was not sure I wanted to go to law school right after undergrad. A passing comment she made came rushing back. “You know I’ve had you in a lot of classes and I noticed you perform better in a smaller setting. Just something to think about going forward.”
She hit the mark since I was a kid, I performed better in smaller class settings and I was fortunate that I picked a school that offers smaller class sizes and smaller small sections. So I now had a possible answer that people would understand, but thinking about the journey I was undertaking made me continue to evaluate how I ended up at KU Law.
The smaller class size argument I realized extended to cities as well. I have lived all over the country from Los Angeles to Atlanta, but I realized I felt the most comfortable when I lived in cities of medium to smaller size. After exploring the Kansas City Metro area, I realized that like KU Law it was a medium-sized city with many of the attractions of larger cities without feeling overwhelming. That feeling perfectly encapsulates how I feel about KU Law. It is small enough, so I do not feel overwhelmed but has all of the attractions of larger law schools. So, I might not have KU Law with the “right” reasons in mind, but I was fortunately lucky that it meets my needs. A smaller law school that does not make me feel like I am missing out on any opportunities.
— Donald Pinckney is a 1L from Toledo, Ohio and a KU Law Student Ambassador.