After earning his undergraduate degree at Vanderbilt, Josh Landis’s plan was to work for a couple of years and then earn a graduate business degree. But while working in New York City at AlphaSights, a London-based company that supports major corporations and institutional investors by providing customized research services, he began contemplating a career change. “The more I thought about my strengths and interests, the more I felt that law school could be a great fit,” Landis recalled. “But I also really enjoyed the finance and business side of my work. My company relied heavily on its compliance and legal team to operate. Seeing that firsthand really cemented for me the fact that I didn’t have to choose between law and business—I could do both.”
His search for a law school where he could receive intensive training in corporate and transactional work led him back to Vanderbilt, which has a well-established Law and Business certificate program. “I’ve been able to take lots of practical classes, and I’ve also been able to explore my interests in other areas of law,” he said.
Vanderbilt also met other important criteria for Landis: It has a strong record of placing students in good legal jobs throughout the nation, and it attracts high-caliber students. “The students Vanderbilt attracts are intelligent and motivated, but also social and collegial—the kind of people I wanted to surround myself with during law school,” he said. “And I knew my Vanderbilt law degree would make me competitive for any job in the country.”
Vanderbilt has exceeded Landis’s expectations. “I remember sitting in class as a 1L and being impressed—and a little intimidated—with how smart everyone was,” he said. “Our professors are incredibly well-regarded in their respective fields. What really stands out for me is that they’re not only preeminent scholars, but they also genuinely care about students as individuals and the classroom experience.”
Landis particularly enjoyed his first-year Civil Procedure class with Professor Ingrid Wuerth. “She came in on the first day of class and was cold-calling everyone by name without the aid of picture flashcards–she had spent time over the summer reviewing our class roster and pictures so she would be ready for us,” he said. “That class was one of the most demanding I’ve taken at Vanderbilt, but also one of the most rewarding. She expected a lot out of us, and she was always impeccably prepared. I came away from the class knowing that I had been pushed and challenged, but that I was a much better student for it.”
Landis joined the Ambassadors, a cadre of student volunteers who help recruit prospective students. He also joined the Law Review staff and participated in the Bass Berry & Sims Moot Court Competition as a 2L. “I wanted to give back by helping to bring in new classes of students that would continue the school’s strong culture,” he said. “And Law Review and Moot Court have supplemented my classroom education. I’m focusing on corporate transactional classes, so Moot Court allowed me to also experience the brief-writing and oral argument associated with litigation.”
Landis will serve as a law clerk for Judge Karen LeCraft Henderson on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in 2019-20, and he appreciated the support he received from Professor Michael Bressman, a former clerk for Judge Henderson. “I didn’t realize how early in law school the clerkship application process began, nor how quickly it moves,” he said. “Professor Bressman held multiple meetings and emphasized how important it was to get our materials sent out as soon as possible. After I secured the interview with my judge, I sat down with Professor Bressman to go over how to prepare.”
He also secured a summer position in the Bay Area with support from the Career Services program. “When I decided I wanted to target the Bay Area, my career counselor emphasized the importance of attending the San Francisco job fair,” he said. “That proved instrumental in securing my 2L summer position.” Landis spent summer 2018 with Latham & Watkins in Menlo Park, California, and plans to join the firm after completing his clerkship.