The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Alex Rizzutto joins the pre-law advising team as the newest student advisor

Formerly a faculty member of the Career Center, Rizzutto has made strides, such as revamping the pre-law website, to support pre-law students as the newest pre-law advisor.
Anjali Chanda
Vanderbilt University Law School (VUSL), as photographed on Jan. 25, 2021. (Hustler Multimedia/Anjali Chanda)

CORRECTION: This piece was corrected as Dr. Carrie Russell was misquoted regarding the resources previously available to pre-law students, and the quote was misattributed to an email correspondence rather than a Zoom interview.

Alex Rizzutto is the newest addition to the pre-law advising team, joining the group in February 2021. According to Dr. Carrie Russell, director of pre-law advising, Rizzutto’s has helped accelerate the process of accumulating and growing resources for pre-law students.

Rizzutto revamped the pre-law website as one of his first initiatives. This initiative was a key agenda over the past two years, per Russell. 

“We completely revamped the website and added new pages on the various application components of the law school process (with personal statement and diversity statement examples included), as well as how to assess law schools,” Rizzutto said. 

Before his position as a pre-law advisor, Rizzutto primarily served political science, public policy studies and law, history and society majors through individual Career Center coaching. He stated that he inadvertently had been helping pre-law students under this position as many students in those majors are pre-law. Rizzutto said he used his time during the pandemic to take the LSAT and engulf himself in the world of law.

“I continued learning more and more about this process at work, as well as in my personal life,” Rizzutto said. “When the pre-law advisor position became available, I knew that I had a lot of current, relevant experience and knowledge that could help Vanderbilt students get where they want to go, and so I applied!” 

Rizzutto said that he is considering applying to law school himself. According to Russell, this could help Rizzutto better understand pre-law students. 

“I would ask the students not to worry about Alex potentially applying to law school,” Russell said. “Undergraduate students compete with other students coming out of undergraduate schools while students who take time off are competing with those who took time off.” 

Sarah Geller, a pre-law senior and founder and president of the Vanderbilt Pre-Law Society (VPLS), said that Rizzutto’s potential future in law school will give him a unique and helpful perspective for students. 

“I am currently applying to law school, and there is a level of stress that comes with that process that may seem unfounded to people not going through the process,” Geller said in an email to The Hustler. “Mr. Rizzutto will be able to understand and relate to this feeling as a potential law school applicant himself, which will make him a more empathetic and therefore even better advisor.”  

A representative from Vanderbilt’s pre-law fraternity Phi Alpha Delta (PAD) did not respond to The Hustler’s request for comment about Rizzutto’s appointment.

Increasing resources for and assisting pre-law students has been a long-standing goal of the pre-law advisory team, according to Russell. 

“Over the course of probably a year and a half or two, we crunched a lot of numbers to see that law school applicants from Vanderbilt are still vastly underrepresented in the student body when compared to students who self-identify as hoping to apply to medical school,” Russell said.

According to Russell, the law school applications and admissions process this year has been “crazy” with a significant increase in both applicants and admitted students. In 2020, she worked with VSG to create a Brightspace page for pre-law information and resources.

“This effort also signaled to me that I really needed help updating the pre-law website and making the page more accessible/user friendly,” Russell said, “The Provost’s office and I (specifically VPV Beasley) worked together to create a call for a position in the Vanderbilt Career Center that could provide pre-law advising support alongside the traditional Career Center advising caseload”

As the sole pre-law advisor before Rizzutto’s addition, Russell said she is grateful that the university has allocated some resources towards pre-law students.

“A lot of the administrative matters can be really overwhelming, and it’s nice to have somebody help me share that burden,” Russell said.

As another one of his first initiatives as part of the pre-law advisory team, Rizzutto began Career ExpLAWration—a series that will feature current law school students and practicing lawyers who will discuss their experience with students.

“The first one is coming up at the end of October and will feature current law school students/Vandy alums who are attending Penn, Michigan and Northwestern,” Rizzutto said. “Next spring, I will be doing the same with lawyers working in the Public Interest and Big Law.”  

Russell said that the pre-law advisory team also developed a three-generational LinkedIn forum to heighten communication and networking and to broadcast successes among current pre-law students as well as law school admittees and law school graduates. Both Russell and Rizzutto mentioned the virtual law school fair that will take place on Oct. 7. Rizzutto also said that an admissions officer from Harvard Law School will be doing a virtual Q&A on Sept. 29 from 3-4 p.m. CDT, and Dean Miriam Ingber of Yale Law School will be speaking on campus on Nov. 2 from 4:30-6 p.m. CDT.

The students can register for all of these events and the Career ExpLAWration panels on Doreways

Geller said that she noticed more pre-law-specific events marketed to Vanderbilt at large, instead of just in the pre-law listserv, as well as more pre-law targeted events, in general, this year.

However, Geller said she thinks that it can be difficult to get “super-personalized” advice with these sessions. She said that, in the future, she looks forward to more events targeted toward pre-law students, especially those hosted by other parties and organizations like VPLS, and hopes to see more student-to-student mentoring.

View comments (1)
About the Contributors
Krisha Shah
Krisha Shah, Former Staff Writer
Krisha Shah ('24) is from Mumbai, India. When she's not writing, she enjoys reading, journaling, eating large amounts of good food, discovering music or hiking!
Anjali Chanda
Anjali Chanda, Former Staff Photographer
Anjali Chanda (’23) is from Beverly, Massachusetts. She majored in sociology and English with a focus in creative writing. In the past, she wrote for the Arts and Society Section of the Greyhound Newspaper at Loyola University Maryland. In her free time, she can be found painting, writing stories or rewatching New Girl. She can be reached at [email protected].
More to Discover

Comments (1)

The Vanderbilt Hustler welcomes and encourages readers to engage with content and express opinions through the comment sections on our website and social media platforms. The Hustler reserves the right to remove comments that contain vulgarity, hate speech, personal attacks or that appear to be spam, commercial promotion or impersonation. The comment sections are moderated by our Editor-in-Chief, Rachael Perrotta, and our Social Media Director, Chloe Postlewaite. You can reach them at [email protected] and [email protected].
All The Vanderbilt Hustler picks Reader picks Sort: Newest
Notify of
1 Comment
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Carrie Russell
2 years ago

This was the email I sent to the Hustler – Thanks!
From: Russell, Carrie Elizabeth
Sent: Friday, September 24, 2021 1:22 PM
To: Krisha Shah <[email protected]>
Subject: RE: Article
So I was appointed pre-law adviser in Spring 2016; we created the pre-law website in Fall 2017, along with a pre-law list-serv for the purpose of quickly communicating to students information I received from law schools, test-prep agencies, or campus partners who wanted to communicate with the students interested in attending law school in the future. I also began holding office hours for 3.5 hours a week for pre-law advising on a walk-in appointment basis. 
In response to student requests, I began using calendly, an appointment scheduling service, in 2018 so that students could schedule their pre-law advising appointments with me without the uncertainties that accompanied walk-in appointments. And I continue to offer advising 3 to 4 hours a week (3 hours scheduled on calendly; another hour is offered for students whose schedules don’t coincide with my office hours.)
Over the course of 2020, I worked with the student government to populate a Brightspace page that students could access for purposes of gathering pre-law information and resources. I’m not sure if that page still exists because the student government liaisons that I was working with graduated, and ownership of the page remained with SGA/was not in my hands.  The thought was to create a resource much like the Health Professions Advisor Office maintains on Brightspace. But this effort also signaled to me that I really needed help updating the pre-law website and making the page more accessible/user friendly. I am not a web-designer. And at about the same time, student government leadership requested of the Provost’s office more resources be devoted to pre-law advising. As such, the Provosts office and I (specifically VPV Beasley) worked together to create a call for a position in the Vanderbilt Career Center that could provide pre-law advising support alongside the traditional Career Center advising case load. Candidates were interviewed and Alex Rizzutto was offered the job; and I remain incredibly grateful to the university for dedicating more resources to pre-law advising in the person of Mr. Rizzutto. Alex is so kind, exemplifies team-spirit, can-do attitude and work ethic.  Alex immediately got to work revamping the website and making it much cleaner and intuitive. 
In 2020, I realized that Vanderbilt students (past and present) had so many amazing accomplishments that should be broadcast and that I wanted a tool other than the University’s website where students could share their successes, ask questions of each other and network with each other. So at Alex’s suggestion, I looked into making a Linked In page for the Vanderbilt pre-law community. With the help of Nolan Seigel, a kind-hearted current student who knows I hate technology and all things social media, we created the linked in page, which you can access by clicking hereAnd it’s awesome. So many students who are now enrolled in amazing programs, or clerking for judges all over the country, are there and willing to offer support to current Vanderbilt students considering law school and the legal profession.  And when law schools, judges, firms are curious about how Vanderbilt prepares students for law school, that page highlights in real-time how many students are dominating the field. 
***So in my estimation, this all adds up to tangible evidence of how much Vanderbilt supports students interested in attending law school. And I personally will bend over backwards for anyone who feels called to the vocation. I LOVE getting the letters from law school admissions teams letting me know how many of our students will be entering their 1L classes. And I LOVE receiving requests from state bar associations who require a “Dean’s note of good standing” from Vanderbilt for our alums. I sign the letters knowing that my students are going to be the policy makers of the future. I think I said this before, but I was a Political Science major who had NO IDEA what would be expected of me in law school. None of my students, the ones who take my classes at least, will be similarly situated. They will know and they will conquer and prevail. As important as getting into law school is understanding how law school works and how to do well in that environment. And equally important is understanding the life of the law. It touches everything. And as much as haters talk about there being too many lawyers, I would argue that there are too few good lawyers – lawyers who are in it for the right reasons, who take seriously the oath they all take when licensed to practice law to protect and defend the Constitution. The moments in life when people are most afraid are often the same moment that a good lawyer standing beside them can make those moments more manageable. So that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!!!
Carrie Archie Russell, JD, PhD
Principal Senior Lecturer, Department of Political Science
Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Education, College of Arts and Science
Director of Pre-Law Advising, Vanderbilt University
[email protected]
To Schedule Office Hours for Fall 2021
Use the following link
*I honor and respect boundaries around personal time, well-being, and care-taking. As such, please protect your time and note that I will do the same; i.e. I check and respond to email unreliably during evenings and weekends…
From: Krisha Shah <[email protected]>
Sent: Friday, September 24, 2021 11:44 AM
To: Russell, Carrie Elizabeth <[email protected]>
Subject: Article
Dear Dr. Russell,
Hi! Hope you’re having a great Friday. I was wondering if there was some sort of link to the three generational linked in forum you mentioned in your interview? I would love it if students could access this directly from the website. 
Also, could you tell me a little bit more about pre-law students not having as many resources before recently? It’s completely fine if not, but as I was writing the article, it seemed like that portion required a little bit of elaboration just to highlight the wonderful progress that has been made since. Let me know if I can quote you on the information you provide about the same! 
Thank you so much, and happy almost weekend!
Krisha Shah