Summer Experience: Alexis Smith ’24L Alexis Smith spent her summer working in the litigation department of the AARP Foundation.
Alexis Smith ’24L is originally from Sheridan, IN. She is an active member of the W&L community, serving as Symposium Editor of Law Review, the Treasurer of the Black Law Students Association, the Mentorship Chair of the First-Generation Student Union, a Law Ambassador, a BARBRI Student Representative, and more. This past summer she worked in the Litigation Department of AARP Foundation at their national headquarters in Washington, D.C. After law school, she will be a Judicial Clerk for Judge John M. Tran, for the Nineteenth Circuit Court of Virginia in Fairfax County.
How did you find/get this position?
My Law Review Note Advisor, Brenna Rosen, worked for AARP in the Legal Counsel for the Elderly (LCE) arm for her 3L actual practice requirement. When the AARP Foundation’s Litigation (AFL) team posted their application request on GPIIP in the spring, Brenna urged me to apply because she knew I was interested in working in Civil Rights Litigation after I graduate.
Describe your work experience.
I absolutely loved working at AFL. I was assigned to a number of complex multi-jurisdictional class action lawsuits aimed at fighting against the mistreatment and discrimination of the aging population. Primarily, my work revolved around legal research, deposition preparation, and attending meetings to assist in case development. The majority of my cases involved breach of contract and unjust enrichment claims against assisted living facilities, but I was able to assist in a few employment and labor cases regarding pension issues and discriminatory hiring policies.
What were some skills you developed this summer?
I was able to enhance my research and writing skills through numerous research projects, internal memorandums, and briefs. Additionally, I was able to draft deposition questions and help prepare our expert witnesses to be deposed.
What surprised you about the work you did this summer?
I was shocked by how many meetings go into preparing for a class action lawsuit. Since our cases entailed multiple jurisdictions, our litigation team consisted of both in house attorneys and attorneys from each state involved in the lawsuit. We met numerous times a week to strategize and prepare for discovery, depositions, and filings.
What was your favorite aspect of this summer work experience?
My favorite aspect was honestly seeing how much my work actually impacted our cases. I was given a lot of responsibility on the cases I was assigned. One specific example was when I was tasked with preparing an expert for his deposition. Additionally, I was consistently asked to provide my perspective and thoughts on an array of legal issues in rooms filled with highly experienced attorneys.
Has this experience helped you figure out post graduate plans, and if so, how?
Although I am going to clerk directly after graduation, this experience opened my eyes to the world of class action lawsuits. I had only ever worked on single plaintiff cases, so being able to assist on complex class actions aimed at fighting for systemic change rather than on an individual basis was an invaluable experience.
How do you think this experience will shape the rest of your time at W&L Law?
This experience solidified my desire to pursue a judicial clerkship. Working with numerous experienced attorneys who had vast expertise in their niche fields highlighted the importance of legal writing. Oral advocacy is but one component of a successful litigator. Being able to write persuasively and exceptionally is crucial in fiercely advocating for a client.
Outside of Law School
Hiking, Backpacking, Cooking, Lifting Weights, Health & Fitness
Maintenance Phase or Crime Junkie on Spotify
Favorite thing to do in Lexington
Coffee dates with friends at Season’s Yield Bakery