Whitney.Rutherford

Beyond the Pencil Skirt: Celebrating the Thrive

Two opposite and powerful forces crash into each other this time of year for this law student: finals season and the holiday season. One is all high stress, high risk, high reward, while the other is spilling over with celebration, family, and low key traditions. Yet these two seasons trigger one identical thought: what am I celebrating this time of year? As I wrote this final Beyond the Pencil Skirt, I was celebrating the process of law school: figuring out the discipline to thrive and looking forward to helping others thrive after the bar. Spending a year getting beyond the pencil…

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Whitney.Rutherford

Beyond the Pencil Skirt: Finding the Perspective to Thrive

I spent the last week rocketing from a moot court tournament to a final trial in the space of five days. In preparation for both the competition and the assignment, I clocked a lot of courtroom hours. This month’s Beyond the Pencil Skirt was drafted out of that prep time (and, if you’ll please forgive me, running a few days late because of it!).  As we reach the midway point of 3L year, I believe as strongly as ever that a robust skills program and challenging co-curriculars have taught me just as much, if not more, about becoming an good lawyer…

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Whitney.Rutherford

Beyond the Pencil Skirt: “Can You Help Me Thrive?”

The season may be drifting from hot to cool, but the semester is just heating up. During the past several weeks, many 2L friends on Law Review and Moot Court have pulled me aside to ask to get together and talk about how to “get through” 2L year. As we cruise into the second full month of 3L year, it is a delight to spend a little time comparing our experiences. Before grabbing lunch with one such friend last week, I sent her a link to Beyond the Pencil Skirt for a preview of where I’m coming from on the issue…

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Whitney.Rutherford

Beyond the Pencil Skirt: Settling Into Your Thrive

"3L, that's the one where they bore you to tears, right?"  I recently fielded this well-intentioned question from a friendly local coffee shop barista. Rather than respond hastily, I paused and thought on the maxim: 1L: Scare you to death. 2L: Work you to death. 3L: Bore you to death. Is it just me or is the 3L portion of this maxim wrong? 1L year was daunting, primarily because it was new. 2L year did include mountains of work, but only because I— like many of you— chose to be deeply engaged in and out of the classroom. Those two years were a part…

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Whitney.Rutherford

Beyond the Pencil Skirt: A New Year to Thrive

Earlier this week, I sat down to make a few changes to my law review article that is slated for publication this semester. It was meant to be a quick run: update the details and tweak the footnotes. But the editing process inevitably draws me in. I begin wondering whether that word should be switched for this one? If that case has been explained fully? If that analysis should be removed, reworked, recast? I simultaneously love working on my article and groan at the constant room for improvement. I want to hold on to it for as long as possible, but…

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Whitney.Rutherford

Beyond the Pencil Skirt: Women Who Inspire Me to Thrive

Happy 5th of July! As many of us returned to work today after a weekend of celebration, I’m not sure I’m ready to let the celebration end. However, the legacy I have been pondering this past month is not the foundation of our nation, but instead the legacy of women in the American legal field.  My focus shifted toward the beginning of women in the American legal profession when I found myself considering all the things that law school does not teach us. Even when we immerse ourselves in every opportunity to learn both the law and the skills necessary to…

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Whitney.Rutherford

Beyond the Pencil Skirt: Summer Thrive

Happy June! This is the six-month mark of writing Beyond the Pencil Skirt, and I am perhaps more excited about writing this post than I have been the five before. This blog grew out of the premise that law school can be genuinely fun when we reinvest what we are learning beyond the classroom walls. During the year, for me, that meant moot court, law review, a negotiations tournament, Federalist Society, a research assistantship and mentoring students in writing and public speaking. My world overflowed with ways to practically apply the classroom knowledge.  However, summer has brought change to my routine, location and focus such…

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Whitney.Rutherford

Beyond the Pencil Skirt: Thriving Past 2L Year

Happy Thursday! This post was written to you from the depths of studying for finals and wrapping up the end of 2L year. Given the timing, my thoughts have been pulled in two directions: reflecting on what 2L year taught about thriving in law school and setting the table to begin the summer and the final year.  Whether competing or working during 2L year, I constantly sought a framework to analyze the law and to approach each challenge. Recently, I took that same approach to preparing for the summer: creating a framework for solidifying the thrive from 2L year and translating it…

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Whitney.Rutherford

Beyond the Pencil Skirt: Thriving Toward New Beginnings

New beginnings! These are the words that flash into my mind even as finals loom just a few weeks away. (Please forgive me for reminding you of how quickly time melts away. As an aside to my fellow 2Ls: how insane is it that this storied year has almost run its course? That we are more than halfway through law school? You’re right, it is madness. But I digress.)  This month, I’m considering new beginnings. My thoughts are running to what is coming up next— partially because there is a new scent of spring here in Virginia, and partially because…

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Whitney.Rutherford

Beyond the Pencil Skirt: Thriving Alongside Expectations

March has certainly roared in like a lion for this 2L. Throughout the last month, I found myself creating two mental lists: one of all the tasks for that afternoon, day, and week and a second list of all the expectations to live up to in that time. We are all surrounded by expectations: our own, those of friends and family, our mentors, professors, employers…and the list goes on. Frankly, I think thriving can often come from meeting and exceeding expectations, but they can also teach us important lessons about ourselves and about the law school experience as a whole. In the context of…

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