Elle Woods & Riley Vann

Elle Woods and Riley Vann…one is me, and one is not, but the lines are blurred more than ever before! Legally Blonde was released on July 13, 2001, when I was 7 and gearing up for second grade. I don’t know when I saw the film (not immediately, that’s for sure…thank you VCR & overprotective parents) but I bet it contributed to my early judicial ambitions. *SIDE NOTE: If it’s been a while since you saw this gem, the top ten moments of Legally Blonde can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xUNJS_-RTCs*

When I announced I wanted to go to law school, around fifth grade, my parents were thrilled. I had previously expressed dreams of becoming a gymnastics coach/author (?), or oceanographer – as lucrative as those sounded, health benefits sounded better. They gave me a copy of the United States Constitution to get me rolling and, as they say, the rest is history!

HAHAHAHA, JUST KIDDING. I got about three pages in before reviving the oceanography dream. I was TWELVE, and the document was everything Elle Wood’s parents thought about lawyers:


…can you tell I am none of the above? No? oh, okay.

But gradually over the next fifteen years, the idea returned. It was a thought when I entered the Air Force Academy, and bolstered by a fascinating law class during my sophomore year. Then I got a job that worked routinely with the military justice system and the Academy’s lawyers, whom I greatly respected and admired. After graduation, I was exposed to more aspects of military law, including the laws governing nuclear weapons and planning (I KNOW) and real court proceedings. Everything reinforced my conviction that becoming an Air Force Judge Advocate would be a wonderful fit. Finally, after an incredible amount of studying, support, and applications, I’m about to enter my first year at Harvard Law. But before we take off (it’s getting close now!), let’s do a little comparison between me and the real Elle:


  • Blonde. OBVIOUSLY.
  • Big ole smiles (have heard ‘Smiley Riley’ approximately 1 million times)
  • ALWAYS CALLED LAST IN CLASS because “Vann” and “Woods” are at the end of the alphabet (if you’re a last name starting with “S” or below…you get it)
  • Can handle anything (whitey-tighty contests, nuclear weapons, it’s all the same)
  • “Useless” college majors (but you won’t catch spelling mistakes on this blog, no SIR!)
  • Big fans of pink. BIG fans.
  • 4.0 GPAs in college (I mean, in my major…uh)
  • My middle name is Elizabeth, which is close to Elle? I don’t know, I’m reaching here
  • The grandest of them all…HARVARD LAW!!!

So while I would NEVER claim to be Elle Woods, I’ve been told there’s some overlap (Reese Witherspoon – I’ve never been so honored in my whole life. And I shook hands with President Obama once – just saying.) Not everything is the same, though…

Elle Woods & Riley Vann: Key Differences

  • THE AIR FORCE! This is easily the biggest difference between us…I’m an active duty Air Force officer, which will result in a slightly different law school experience and a WAY different post-HLS life.
  • I am from the great state of Illinois, not California.However, I spent a year in California for training so I got a taste of that sunshine life.
  • Elle is a total fashionista...I tend to just copy instagram influencers. But I have a great appreciation for her skills and wish I knew more about fashion!
  • Delta Nu (not real, but a sorority nonetheless) vs Delta Tau Deuce (not a sorority at all – it’s a military squadron at the Air Force Academy. In fact, it was the one that housed me for two years!)
  • BRUISERRRRR. I don’t have a dog yet and it is very upsetting. I’m trying to get a french bulldog after the first year in law school (so if you have any expertise with frenchies, hit me up!!!)
  • Also, Warner. While part of my decision to pick Harvard was based on my husband Ben (more about this in a later post) I’m not interested in finding a honey while at HLS!
My “Warner.” He gets this face a lot.

That’s just the tip of the iceburg, but there’s one thing we ABSOLUTELY share – and that’s the desire to crush Harvard Law School. Here’s hoping I can do it with as much grace (and hair volume) as Elle Woods!