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.

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Anjali Chanda

Vanderbilt University Law School (VUSL), as photographed on Jan. 25, 2021. (Hustler Multimedia/Anjali Chanda)

Krisha Shah, Staff Writer

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.