Kimberly Chehardy, JD 2009
Whatever you want to do, there is someone here who will help you figure out how to do it.”
BA, history, Loyola University; MHR, University of Oklahoma
Career Before Law School:
Lieutenant (Surface Warfare), United States Navy
When she first began investigating law schools, Kimberly Chehardy was looking for a good community as well as a good education. She had spent six years in the Navy after graduating with a history degree from Loyola University, and she had watched her home town of New Orleans suffer through the catastrophe of Hurricane Katrina.
"In the Navy," she explains, "community is very important, especially in the small town in Iceland where I was living. Community matters in New Orleans, too—my family relocated to Houston for a while, then returned—but it's slow putting the pieces back together, and I felt a strong desire to leave the South and get to know another part of the country."
While visiting with a friend attending Simmons College, Chehardy explored the East Coast beyond Boston and found herself falling in love with the region. "As I focused my law school search on New England, Vermont Law School really caught my eye," she says. "Law had always attracted me as a profession that was both prestigious and interesting—and Vermont Law School had these same characteristics. I was impressed by the highly ranked environmental law program, but I was equally impressed by fact that the school seemed to support a rich community life.
"To me, VLS felt like a place full of real people. During the year in which I applied, the school sent me a holiday greeting card; none of the other schools that interested me did anything like that. Also, I'm a rugby player, and I could see from VLS's materials that they had a rugby team and lots of other sports and activities. Clearly, academics are important here, but personal interaction and community closeness matter, too."
Chehardy has taken full advantage of the opportunities at Vermont Law School—in academics, activities, and personal enrichment. She is on Law Review and the moot court advisory board, she has played on the rugby team, and she loves the outdoor Vermont life, particularly kayaking. In addition, she represents her class on the Board of Trustees as a full voting member.
"Getting to know the Trustees has been amazing," she says. "They are all at the top of their professions, very well—respected, and I feel fortunate to have the chance to meet and interact with them. Through the Board, I am getting broader exposure to people and to the way an administration works."
Her career path is still taking shape around a variety of options. "Last summer, I did public defense work here in Vermont—client interviews, arraignments, depositions, mediations and hearings, investigative work, and work with prisoners' rights. I was immersed in the experience, and I think it was an essential part of my education. This summer, I'll be working as a summer associate at WilmerHale in New York. I'd like to have the option of working at that firm after I graduate, but I'm also thinking of pursuing a federal clerkship."
"No matter what I end up doing, I know I'll be well prepared. The quality of education here is very high, and it's a great group of people. To succeed, you have to put yourself out there, you have to take personal initiative and go for what you want—and VLS makes this possible. We have tremendous access to the faculty as well as access to the deans and other administrators. Whatever you want to do, there is someone here who will help you figure out how to do it. The professors and the school are always striving to do more, from building an excellent international law program to offering one-on-one advice or course assistance. It’s an open, welcoming community for people with all kinds of aspirations."