With a brother, cousin, aunt, and uncle who all attended Cornell, Allison J. Laycob ‘09 couldn’t imagine going anywhere else. “I’m very close to my family and my cousins, and my older brother is a mentor to me,” she explains. She followed her brother to Cornell; then her aunt, uncle, and brother to Cornell Law School. “If my kids don’t go to Cornell, I don’t know what I’ll do,” she quips.
And, she points out, she’s not alone in her Cornell mania. “I think a lot of people love it here,” she says. “Twenty-two out of our law class of 180 went here as undergraduates.” Laycob was worried about going back to Cornell for law, fearing it couldn’t compete with her undergraduate experience, but she needn’t have worried. “Wonderful students come here,” she says. “Some of my best friends will come out of law school.”
Laycob grew up in St. Louis, where her father is a pediatrician and her mother is president of a medical billing company. (Surprisingly, they did not go to Cornell.) Both Laycob and her brother grew up playing tennis, so both wanted a college where they could balance academics and sports. Cornell fit the bill.
As a Cornell undergraduate, Laycob majored in government and played varsity squash, which she began in her junior year of high school. Because few midwestern schools play squash, she traveled independently to the East Coast to play in tournaments, most of them at colleges. “It was a college visiting tour for me,” she recalls. “But it all led me back to Cornell.”
At Cornell, she served on the Student-Athlete Advisory Council and eventually captained the squash team. “Managing a group of fourteen different personalities and trying to structure a program that got everyone focused on the team goal was a really rewarding experience,” says Laycob.
In the summers, she returned to St. Louis, where she assisted in the campaign of Rachel Storch for Missouri state representative. Storch focused on educational reform—and continues to do so now that she is in the Missouri House of Representatives. “I did it to see if I was interested in politics,” explains Laycob. “But I’m not planning to run for a position.”
Laycob also worked at a Montessori school and volunteered at the St. Louis Crisis Nursery. “Maybe because of my dad, I love children,” she explains. “I wanted to do something service-oriented with kids.” In fact, she considered joining Teach for America, but didn’t want to postpone law school. “I love reading and writing and arguing persuasively,” Laycob says.
Somehow she got through the whole application process before learning that the Law School has its own squash court, which she uses often. “It’s stress release, hitting the ball very hard,” she quips. “It’s hard to keep up with something like that, but I’m still dedicated to athletics and staying in shape.”
At the Law School, she took classes in many areas to see what fit best. Litigation turned out to be a perfect match. In her first year, she placed in the top thirty in the Langfan Moot Court Competition. “As a 1-L you don’t want to be distracted, but I loved it,” she recalls. In her third year, she took Trial Advocacy, appreciative of the confidence she gained by completing a full trial in front of a real judge in a real courthouse.
In the summer of 2007, Laycob interned at Carmody MacDonald in St. Louis, where she worked with a family lawyer and was struck by the scope of the practice. An attorney had to be a counselor as well as a lawyer, she explains, and work at the firm involved taxes, estates, and trusts as well. “It’s very intricate and complicated.”
The next summer, she interned at Shearman and Sterling in New York City. “I met amazing people from law schools across the country,” Laycob says. The interns participated in community service, scavenger hunts, and role-playing a large transaction. “We had lunches and dinners all around the city,” she recalls. “I kept thinking ‘I don’t deserve this!’” She rotated through corporate law, capital markets, executive compensation, and employee benefits but remained focused on litigation. Laycob will return to Shearman and Sterling after taking the bar exam.
At the Law School, Laycob has a long list of favorite professors and staff, praising Assistant Dean DeRosa and Dean Lukingbeal as two of the school’s greatest assets. She notes, “Dean Lukingbeal is a great source of support in all areas; I can talk to her about anything.” Laycob also highlights her experiences studying under Joel Atlas, clinical professor of law, who “really develops you as a lawyer,” and the evidence class taught by Faust F. Rossi, the Samuel S. Liebowitz Professor of Trial Techniques, “ideal for my learning style.”
Recently, Laycob traveled to Israel as part of the Taglit-Birthright Israel program, created to send young Jewish adults to Israel as a gift to strengthen ties among Jews. “We traveled around with the Israeli defense force,” says Laycob. “It made me understand what the country goes through. Soldiers between eighteen and twenty-one were being sent to Gaza and happy to do it for the love of their country.”
Laycob’s brother, now a corporate lawyer in St. Louis, is excited to see his little sister become a lawyer. “My parents thought he’d be the litigator,” Laycob says proudly. n