As captain of Vanderbilt University’s tennis team and a student who regularly made the Dean’s List, Charlie Jones developed a work ethic while earning his undergraduate degree that has served him well in law school. “I chose Vanderbilt because I wanted the combination of competing athletically in the SEC and getting a world-class education,” he recalled. “I was used to balancing my life between sports and school. It made time management challenging, but it also kept me sane.”
A native of New Orleans, Jones considered 15 law schools before accepting a Chancellor’s scholarship at Vanderbilt. “I consider myself very loyal to this institution, so I really liked the idea of beginning my career with two Vanderbilt degrees,” he said. Jones had studied political science and public policy as an undergraduate. “Law school was an adjustment in terms of the intensity of the course work, the structure of the curriculum, and the way law school exams work.” But he views the change from being a student athlete to being a full-time student as his most challenging transition. “I lived in the library during my 1L year, and that was certainly a change,” he said. “But I was of the philosophy that the first year was going to be hard, and I was going to embrace it.”
Jones has been particularly impressed with the caliber of Vanderbilt’s law faculty. “I would stack our professors up against any law faculty in the country,” he said. “Vanderbilt has some of the most brilliant producers of scholarship, but they do an amazing job of complementing their research with excellence in the classroom. I attribute most of my success in law school to my professors. They’re effective communicators who are engaged with the material and accessible. It’s been a real pleasure to learn from them.”
During summer 2013, Jones interned with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in the Office of the Legal Advisor to Radovan Karadzic after taking four international law courses through the Vanderbilt in Venice program. “I served on a defense team of about ten interns, two case managers and one American legal advisor, and the prosecution had 50 paid attorneys on staff,” he said. “What motivated me as part of the defense team was that I felt like every ounce of effort I gave would help to lend legitimacy and credibility to whatever ruling came down against Karadzic.”
As a 2L, Jones joined the staff of the Vanderbilt Law Review as an articles editor. “The work we get to read is well-researched and well-written, and it’s been enriching to engage with this scholarship on a daily basis,” he said. “It’s rewarding to be on the front line of what the Law Review publishes.” He also served as a research assistant for Professor Ingrid Wuerth, who is serving as a reporter for the Fourth Restatement on the Foreign Relations Law of the United States. “To know that my work compiling case law on the foreign sovereign immunities act will eventually end up in something as influential as the Restatement is amazing,” he said.
Jones is also back on the tennis courts. As a part-time assistant coach of Vanderbilt’s tennis team, he coaches during matches and travels with the team. “Coaching actually improves my performance in everything else I do,” he said. “There’s the old saying that if you want something done, give it to a busy person. The more engaged I am with things outside the law school, the more focused I am when I sit down to work.”
After graduation, Jones plans to clerk for Judge Kenneth F. Ripple of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in 2015-16 and for Judge Richard J. Leon of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in 2018-19.