Moving to Lexington with a Partner Kate and Colin Emrich '21L reflect on choosing to settle in the Shenandoah Valley for three years.
“I think we were most concerned that W&L would be prohibitively small,” Kate Emrich said. When she and her husband, Colin Emrich ’21L, were looking at law schools, they had all but ruled W&L Law out. Kate had just graduated from college, and she needed to enter the workforce, so she was concerned about finding a job in a small town.
“We were going into the open house weekend and I was like, ‘you can’t fall in love with this place’,” Kate said.
“And we fell in love so fast,” Colin added.
“By that Saturday night we were like ‘cool, how are we going to make this work?” Kate said.
She recalled listening to Dean Hellwig’s address to the prospective students, which touted W&L’s small, personal learning environment among other things, and that contributed to her and husband’s decision to choose W&L.
Later, she found a part-time remote job, which allowed her to have a source of income while looking for local jobs.
“I was able to have a really flexible schedule that first year, which allowed me to go to all the events and make the law community my community, so that worked out so well,” Kate said. “I love being in Lexington for that reason, it so easy to become a part of the community.”
While working remotely, she also started volunteering at Boxerwood Nature Center. This allowed her to come into contact with the wider community. Eventually, she was offered a part-time job there.
Soon after that, Colin forwarded her a “Campus Notice,” an e-newsletter that goes out to W&L students daily, which often includes advertisements for jobs and events. Main Street Lexington, a local nonprofit devoted to economic and community development in the downtown area, was looking for part-time administrative help. She ended up getting two jobs in relatively rapid succession.
“It seems overwhelming, on Indeed and things like that, but if you look on Campus Notices and in the newspaper and get to know people…then everyone’s like hey, do you know anyone who would be right for this’?” Kate said.
“It’s a little like getting housing here,” Colin said. “The big commercial websites don’t have very many listings, and you’re like—does nobody rent or buy?—and then you realize that there are a few local pages that everyone knows about.”
Kate and Colin said that going to law school in a small town has allowed them to interact more.
“We were anticipating three wretched years,” Colin said.
“Years of never seeing each other,” Kate said. “Just something to get through.”
“And I think we were both really astonished that we were not suffering, we have a wonderful work-life balance,” Colin said.
The short distances between their home, the law school, and Kate’s work allow them to meet up for coffee and meals frequently and otherwise intersect. Kate easily goes to events at the law school, and last semester, Colin volunteered for the Christmas parade that Kate’s employer, Main Street Lexington, puts on every year.
“I just think in a bigger city we would be in a more routine little bubble of just like: getting to work, getting to class, not being able to go back and forth, we’d have to drive, or hop on the subway,” Kate said.
Kate and Colin’s advice for finding jobs in Lexington is to check the newspaper, the Campus Notices (“they’re always long but read the whole thing,’) and volunteer.
“And just start meeting people,” Kate said. “Rebecca, my boss, asked me if I know of any law spouses that need a job for after I leave.”
“Lisa Rodocker and Rachel Hubbard were also great,” Colin added. “I reached out and said that Kate was looking for work, and they forwarded us a number of things, they were just keeping their eyes peeled and that was a big deal. They did care.”
“There was a community here that wanted to help,” Kate said.