The Journey: Emily Ledford
The following is the latest story in our series, The Journey, which highlights graduates from the Class of 2022. Today we introduce you to Emily Ledford.
Emily Ledford stepped on campus wearing a large smile. Her left arm raised at a 90-degree angle and her fingers clutching the hooks of a hanger that carried her Commencement regalia.
“The first time I put it on was surreal,” said Ledford. “It was a cool feeling; a realization that this is really happening.”
The day is coming, and it was written all over her face.
A native of Lyman, South Carolina, Ledford earned her undergraduate degree from Wofford. On Saturday, she will add a new credential to her resume: Charleston School of Law, Class of 2022.
A first-generation law school student in her family, Ledford arrived at Charleston Law in Fall 2019. Like all law students, she worked long and hard in and out of the classroom, pouring her heart into opportunities within the legal profession.
Ledford was a leader on campus, serving as president of Women in Law, a Charleston School of Law student organization. She also served as vice president and member of the Trial Advocacy Board (TAB), a member of the Children and Family Law Society, Phi Delta Phi Legal Honor Society (PDP), Christian Legal Society (CLS), and Student Ambassador.
“When I graduate in May, pass the bar in July and get sworn in in October, I am going to be ready to walk into that courtroom and not feel like I’m underqualified,” she said.
Ledford credits the Charleston ‘open door’ culture for helping her prepare for a legal career as an attorney, but also personally, as she honed her skills.
“There is not a professor on this campus that I didn’t feel like I could walk in and ask for help, whether it’s class-related or personal,” said Ledford. “Judge Harrington, Professor Gammons, and Dean Margolis, those three have been huge mentors for me at the law school. They’re always a phone call or a text away.”
Earlier this spring, Ledford joined TAB in Houston to compete in the South Texas Mock Trial Challenge. The experience served as confirmation that she was doing what she needed to do.
“Professor Gammons went halfway across the country to Houston with us,” she added. “You learn a lot about a person when you travel with them. You start talking about other things than just the law.”
“Emily Ledford is a bright, intelligent, and caring person.” said Professor Gammons. “Her people-skills are wonderful. In this business – the practice of law – having people-skills will put you at the front of the class. Judges admired her ease and sense of comfort in the Courtroom. She is not afraid to be assertive.”
“Making an opening argument for a jury; objecting; being right on the evidence; arguing why evidence should be admitted and having the judge affirm what you’ve just said,” said Ledford. “All the things that I’ve been hearing in the classroom or learning at a trial advocacy practice were coming full circle, being in that court.”
“When I got back from that trip, I realized this is what I’m supposed to do with my life,” said Ledford. “This is where I’m supposed to be. I’m good at this. I’m never going to doubt myself again because I came from being scared on the first day, thinking that I was in way over my head. I have a place at the table.”
“That’s been a wonderful experience,” said Ledford. “I’ve learned so much. I kind of got thrown in and all the things that I’ve been learning in class are coming when you sit down in front of a computer and there’s that document that you learned about in class.”
Ledford squeezed volunteer work in between classes, internships, externships and, oh yes, a social life, working at Tri-County S.P.E.A.K.S. (a rape and sexual assault hotline) and as a volunteer for election protection during the 2020 presidential election.
“Law school taught me that there’s nothing I can’t do,” said Ledford. “It is hard, especially that first year you’re adjusting and learning something new. The rest is kind of on you to figure out who you are as a person. I learned that I’m a lot tougher than I thought I was. It got me out of my comfort zone.”
The Charleston School of Law will host its Spring 2022 commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 14 at the McAlister Field House on the campus of The Citadel. Doors to the auditorium will open at 12:30 p.m. with the ceremony starting at 2:00 p.m. The Citadel is located on 171 Moultrie Street, Charleston. A reception to follow the commencement ceremony on Summerall Field.
CHARLESTON SCHOOL OF LAW QUICK FACTS
The Charleston School of Law is an ABA-accredited law school nationally recognized for its student-centric culture. Our faculty and staff are committed to preparing you for success both in the classroom and in the legal profession.
- The Princeton Review ranks Charleston School of Law professors second in the country for faculty accessibility (2021)
- Charleston School of Law faculty ranked among the top of The Princeton Review’s list of Best Professors in the nation (2016-2018)
- Experiential Learning: Charleston School of Law students have access to more than 150 externship sites, creating opportunities for experiential learning in the legal field.
- Community Service: Charleston School of Law students have performed more than 241,000 community service hours (2004-current).
- Students have won the National Tax Moot Court Championship for seven consecutive years (2012-2018)
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The following was originally published by the South Carolina chapter for the Association of Corporate Counsel.