The 1L George Wythe Society of Citizen Lawyers Tour

pembertonby Shevarma Pemberton, Class of 2018

When I first moved to Williamsburg, I thought a tour would be a great way to delve into the Williamsburg history and community life. On September 8, 2015, I finally got a taste when participated in the 1L George Wythe Citizen Lawyers Tour event. This event brought the tour to me, and I could not have been more excited. It was nice to see a sizeable group of students who were also interested. The group was split between two tour guides, and then we were off!

Fortunately for me, we began the tour at 6:30pm when it was still light out George Wythe Lessonbut not that warm. I was completely unprepared to tour in the hot Williamsburg summer weather, as I happened to be wearing black from top to bottom. But all black in the Williamsburg summer heat did not seem to be a challenge for everybody.

The tour began, quite fittingly, with the George Wythe House. There, we were treated to a bit of history about the first American law professor and the first professor at William & Mary Law School. This treat was especially delightful because it was brought to us by a gentleman in colonial garb. He graciously agreed to take a selfie with me!Selfie

The next stop was the St. George Tucker House. There, we learned about another public servant who left his mark as a William & Mary law professor, and who also became a judge in Virginia.

The tour group then proceeded to the courthouse where many were brought to justice by pillory. I also learned a fun fact. I was aware that, as a law student, I would soon have to take and pass the bar in order to be admitted to the practice of law. What I did not know, was the origins of the term. What I learned on this tour was that the idea originated from the fact that, in colonial times, only lawyers could be Court House“called to the bar”—a physical bar in the courtroom. Today, our “call to the bar” is a written exam that inducts us into the practice of law and permits us to practice in the courts.

Our next stop on the tour was the Bruton Parish Episcopal Church, which was built in the eighteenth century, and I believe still stands on much of that centuries-old structure—Churchdown to the glass in the windows. It was the first Anglican church in this country.

The tour ended at the Wren Building, which is the oldest college building in the country. There, we were treated to some food and drinks, but I think the best treat of all was a speech from our beloved Dean Douglas. The biggest takeaway from his speech was that our legal education is a tool box, and that we need to start thinking about what we want to do with that tool box. I was definitely inspired to look inward. I have already drawn from that idea in making decisions about my approach to the law school process.

All in all, I noted a lot of “oldest” and “first” in my tour. There is definitely a lot of history here and the tour served to whet my appetite for more of what Colonial Williamsburg has to offer. It was also a great opportunity to break away from the studies and enjoy a relaxing walk while making new connections and expanding on old ones. The George Wythe Citizen Lawyers organization and the Alumni Affairs Office did an amazing job putting this event together!

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