UK Rosenberg Law’s Rachele Yohe Celebrates Longtime Dream
Growing up in Lexington, Kentucky, Rachele Yohe watched Law & Order, Blue Bloods, and NCIS, and dreamed about becoming a lawyer.
None of her relatives were lawyers. But when they asked 7-year-old Rachele what career she wanted when she became an adult, she told them about her goal. She told everyone who would listen.
A self-described “total nerd,” Rachele not only admired TV lawyers but also read about influential American lawyers in the history books from her personal collection.
“I’ve never been a quiet person. I’ve always been willing to step out and argue for what I believed in,” Rachele said. “It sounds very cliché to say it, but I think being a lawyer was always my calling.”
She took Advanced Placement classes at Lafayette High School and, as an undergraduate at University of Kentucky, Rachele majored in political science and philosophy with the law in mind. Even with a double major, Rachele graduated in three years.
“I couldn’t wait to get to law school, to be honest with you. I was so excited,” Rachele said.
Rachele started law school at 20 years old and discovered, during an event for admitted students, that she was the youngest person in her class. Her youthful age didn’t stop her from becoming the 2019-2020 Moot Court Board president – and leading the team to nationals for the first time in decades – and publishing an article online for the Kentucky Law Journal.
Law may have been her calling, but Rachele did not know which law school she would attend even as an undergraduate at UK. After her sister enrolled at Northern Kentucky University for undergraduate studies, Rachele considered heading there for law school.
One tour swayed her to stay in Wildcat blue. She met the Admissions staff, talked to law professors and attended a mock class.
“I really loved all the people at UK. That is what drew me to the school,” Rachele said. “From that tour on, I was sure I wanted to be at UK.”
Rachele has no regrets.
“If you asked me who my favorite professor was, I’d probably be able to narrow it down to four,” Rachele said, laughing. “It is the most welcoming environment I’ve ever been in. Everyone is really invested in each other. There is a lot of camaraderie between the students.”
Rachele and her classmates started law school in temporary locations as the UK College of Law—which recently became the UK J. David Rosenberg College of Law—was gutted and transformed into the modern, collaborative space that opened in August 2019.
“Bringing all of us together and having our own space really kind of solidified how perfect it all was,” Rachele said.
She recalled the beautiful building during a phone interview from her home just hours before taking her last final exam. UK and UK Rosenberg Law transitioned to online learning as the coronavirus outbreak changed lives everywhere.
“It was definitely an unexpected process. My biggest disappointment came from all the activities that were ultimately canceled,” Rachele said, noting the Moot Court Board banquet and, of course, graduation.
She appreciated the fun, virtual activities planned by the Student Bar Association, the phone calls from faculty and staff, and the work faculty did to transition classes to an online format.
In the unexpected turn of events, Rachele was looking forward to a small, family cookout to mark the completion of law school.
“When I finish my exam today, it’s going to be a little bittersweet,” she said.
For almost two years, Rachele has worked for Bullock & Coffman, LLP, in downtown Lexington.
“It’s a smaller firm, but we do a lot of big law things. We have a lot of big litigation and it’s one of those law firms where I get to do just about everything,” she said.
Rachele plans to take a break from work this summer to focus on passing the bar exam before deciding on the next steps in her career.
After having a plan for most of her life, Rachele said she’s OK with a bit of mystery now.
“Most of my life I’ve had really clear set goals on what I wanted to do. I wanted to go to law school, I wanted to practice X,” she said, adding that UK Rosenberg Law made her consider areas of the law she never dreamed about as a kid watching legal dramas. “But I like that for the first time, I’m going to have the degree and I’m really open to doing just about anything and seeing where it all takes me.”
In high school, Rachele was into politics. Before law school, she wanted to be a criminal law prosecutor. Now, she finds it all interesting, something she attributes to her professors at UK Rosenberg Law.
“Maybe I’m a little sentimental, but it always felt very much like family,” Rachele said. “I loved going to school all the time. Yes, it was a lot of work and we would tease each other … but I wouldn’t have chosen to go anywhere else.”
By Shawntaye Hopkins
May 19, 2020