Adrielle Conner’s journey to Vanderbilt started with her goal to be a community-oriented advocate. She knew law school would help her achieve this goal and identified three important factors in choosing a law school: A strong record of job placement nationwide, professors who mentored students, and a collegial atmosphere. “Vanderbilt was at the intersection of everything I wanted in a law school,” she said. “VLS places graduates in a variety of locations and has professors who truly care about the development of students. And it felt like a true community here. You can learn the law at many law schools, but what drew me to Vanderbilt was the environment.”
Having attended a large state university for undergrad, Conner also sought a smaller school that provided a more intimate feel. She wanted an environment where she could bounce ideas regarding her goals and passions and create meaningful connections. “I found that at Vanderbilt,” she said. “Students here support one another and are a close-knit community.”
As a 1L, Conner recalls being impressed when a student in her Contracts class offered to share a chart she and another classmate had created as a study aid with the entire class. “I learned later that she booked the class,” she said. “That’s the culture here—working collaboratively so we can all succeed and do well.”
Conner plans to join Alston & Bird in Atlanta after graduation, and she credits the law school’s Career Services department with helping her identify firms that were a good fit. “Career Services was very helpful in giving me feedback on resumes and cover letters. I made sure to send over my materials before 1L and 2L OCI to present the best version of my materials to recruiters,” she said.
She also hopes to do pro bono work in education law. She spent two semesters working as an extern with the Education Rights Project of the Nashville Public Defender under the supervision of Beth Cruz, who launched the project out of an existing program soon after earning her J.D. at VLS in 2010. “My externship allowed me to explore an area of law I am passionate about,” Conner said. “I learned so much about vigorous advocacy.”
As president of the Black Law Students Association, Conner leads one of the law school’s most longstanding student organizations. “BLSA was critical for my success,” she said. “Having an organization here that highlights the unique contributions that black people and allies bring to the legal profession is amazing. It’s a lot of work, but BLSA has given me so much community and so much warmth and support.”
She is looking forward to her legal career. “I paid special attention to finding a firm that believed that pro bono work and community involvement was integral to the success of every lawyer,” she said. “It’s very easy to fall into the binary of public interest or big law. I believe there’s room to explore both.”