For The Record

It’s not the first rodeo for Bob Gehringer, L’97. He is back at Richmond Law 24 years after graduation for what he calls a “refresher” year. Gehringer actually didn’t spend much time working in law after graduation. Not long after earning his J.D., he went to medical school and became a critical care physician. He’s on campus taking classes again with an eye on yet another career change.

What made you decide on the dual paths of law and medicine?
My plan since I was a little boy was to be a doctor. I started down that path beginning as an undergraduate at Hampden-Sydney College. I majored in cell and molecular biology and modern languages with a French focus. I ended up winning a scholarship to study linguistics and language in Europe. When I got back, I got a temporary job with a circuit court judge, and I just became fascinated by it. I knew after a few months that I would love to go to law school.

One small regret I had was leaving the science behind. But it turns out that at the time, Richmond had a dual-degree program with the department of biology. After my first year of purely law courses, I split my remaining time between the science center and the law school. I was like a kid in a candy store. But I still had that draw to be a physician.

What’s different this time around?
Sometimes, when I’m in class or I walk through the building, it’s almost as if I forget that it was 20 years ago. But it’s much expanded now. The faculty has expanded; the course offerings have expanded; the opportunities for students have really expanded. The career development office is much more proactive.

Has anything stayed the same?
One thing that hasn’t changed is the personal investment that the faculty have. Their doors are always open. They want to get to know you. They want to help you achieve your goals. And there’s a personal touch here, which really appeals to me.

But the more things have changed, the more they stayed the same. I take civil procedure with professor Clark Williams. I took it before, and I’m sitting in the same room in the same seat, looking at the same professor. When I was here before, I never walked through those doors without feeling a sense of privilege and awe that you’re entering a legacy, not just a school. And I still feel that it’s a special place.