Robin Frazer McGuffin has known she wanted to be a lawyer since she was 14. Vanderbilt Law School became one of her top choices as soon as she entered Vanderbilt University as a freshman in 2008. “Vanderbilt had the southern connection, the proximity to Kentucky and outstanding academics, and I was struck by the beautiful campus and the sense of community that was really present,” she said. “Here, you’re surrounded by incredibly intelligent people doing great research—and they also like their lives. They have fun.”
McGuffin, who is now a litigation associate with Stites & Harbison, won the 2014 Bass Berry & Sims Moot Court competition with her partner, Kendra Key. “I knew she was a very strong public speaker,” she said. “I’m a strong writer, and we played off each other’s strengths, which led to our success.” During her final year of law school, McGuffin served on the Moot Court Board as executive problem editor, heading the team of students who research and write the legal problem students participating in the competition must argue. “The competition always deals with a problem in First Amendment law, and I wrote the bench brief—the answer given to the judges that gives them a brief overview of arguments and questions on both sides,” she explained.
McGuffin also enjoyed her role as an articles editor—a member of the team that reviews submissions from legal scholars and recommends them for publication—on the Vanderbilt Law Review staff. “During my first year, I personally reviewed over 200 articles,” she said. “I have a curious mind, and I know more about the state of the law and have a much broader perspective than I had before.”
As a Vanderbilt undergraduate, McGuffin majored in human and organizational development because of her interest in how people work together effectively and what makes organizations successful. Her background has informed her job search. McGuffin chose summer positions at two Lexington firms in 2013 and 2014 not only because “they do sophisticated work”—an important consideration for her—but also because the attorneys she talked with obviously enjoyed their work. “People seemed genuinely happy,” she said. “Studying human and organizational development taught me that firms that don’t invest in their people and in creating a good environment are not sustainable.”
A recipient of the Thomas R. McCoy Scholarship, McGuffin particularly enjoyed her law courses dealing with regulatory law. As a 2L, she served as a research assistant for Associate Dean Kevin Stack on a project examining how administrative agencies interpret statutes. During her first year, she recalls being surprised that she enjoyed Contracts, taught by Professor Tracey George. “Professor George is a fantastic teacher who gets to know all of her students,” McGuffin said. “Contracts deals with arcane rules, but she makes it relevant and interesting.” She received the Robert F. Jackson Memorial Prize for maintaining the highest scholastic average in her class during the first two years of law school, and the Archie B. Martin Prize for maintaining the highest general average for the first year of law school.
McGuffin received the Founder’s Medal in recognition for graduating first in her class at Commencement. She was a law clerk for Judge John Rogers on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit for the 2015-16 term, after which she joined Stites & Harbison in Lexington.