Tony Balloon 02L
Undergraduate institution/major: University of Florida, Fisher School of Accounting
Major: Accounting with minor in economics
Current position/employer: Associate, McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP in Atlanta
Why did you decide to apply for a Woodruff Fellowship?
Why would one not apply? The financial incentive alone made it worthwhile to go through the application process. But there also is something nice about being potentially considered for a school’s top honor.
Was it a factor in you choosing Emory Law for your legal education?
Absolutely, although focusing on the financial aspect alone would have been shortsighted. With the Woodruff Fellowship comes outstanding nonfinancial benefits—instant friends among your classmates upon arrival, opportunities to interact with faculty both before you arrive as a first-year student and then during the years at Emory if not beyond.
What does being a Woodruff Scholar mean to you?
The late Professor Berman, the law schools first Woodruff professor, for whom I served as a research assistant and with whom I co-taught a class my third year, referred to Woodruffs as “joint heirs to a proud tradition.” Being a Woodruff Scholar means upholding, if not advancing, that tradition. There is an expectation, perhaps a burden in a good sense, of not only academic success but also of leadership, and this expectation does not, and should not, end at graduation, but continues as an alumni. Woodruff Scholars are forever bound to Emory Law—not out of obligation, but out out of duty and pride.
How has being a Woodruff Scholar shaped your law school and professional careers?
Many of the opportunities I had in law school came about directly or indirectly because I was a Woodruff Scholar. Meeting and working with Professor Berman, a 20th Century titan in legal thought, was an opportunity that arose from a lunch with “the Woodruff Professor.” In a more general sense, there was the desire to be academically successful and to contribute to the law school community. Working with fellow Woodruff Scholars on class gift campaigns, working with Professor Bederman on U.S. Supreme Court Cases, wanting a successful tenure on the Emory Law Journal, being an alumni member of the Young Law Alumni Counsel and now the Emory Law Journal Board of Advisers—While these opportunities are not directly a result of being a Woodruff Scholar, they are the manifestation of the expectation that a Woodruff be a contributor to the Emory community.
In terms of my professional career, the Woodruff provides the greatest gift for which a law school graduate can ask: FLEXIBILITY. With no law school loans, a Woodruff Scholar truly is free to pursue whatever interests him or her, whether it be a major law firm, public interest, academia or a non-law career.
What all went in to the application process for becoming a Woodruff Scholar? How hard was the process?
The process is what it is—a competition. There are the standard letters of recommendation, a nomination letter, etc. But the real fun is during Woodruff Weekend, where there is an interview and opportunity to learn about Emory and your potential future classmates and fellow Woodruff Scholars. The candidates are outstanding and the competition for a Woodruff is intense, but the process itself is not onerous—or at least looking back 11 years it seems that way. I am certain that I was quite nervous at the time.