The Top 10 Reasons to Consider William & Mary Law

by Jennifer Thurston

Where should you go to law school? It is a question that you might be pondering right now. It is a daunting choice; one with many different factors and considerations. Hopefully you will have the chance to visit all, if not most, of the law schools that you are thinking of attending. We, of course, believe that William & Mary is a fantastic choice for law school and would like to present our list (à la David Letterman) of the top ten reasons to choose William & Mary.

10. Williamsburg. It seems like there are a lot of misconceptions out there about our lovely city. No, it’s not a metropolis, but
it’s not a sleepy, boring town either. It is a vibrant city with
many shopping, dining, and recreation options. Additionally, it has a charm that you would be hard pressed to find elsewhere, an amazing blend of historic and modern with a twist of Southern hospitality. This is not just your fourth grade field trip – this is a wonderful place to live.

9. History. We talk a lot about history at W&M – and with good reason. We are the oldest law school in the United States. Think
about that. We represent the foundation of legal education in America. Whether you are a history buff or not, that is a pretty profound statement. Our students are inspired by the amazing roots of this institution.

8. Faculty. Our professors are not only renowned legal scholars, but they are fantastic teachers. They devote their lives to civil rights, tackle the tricky issues in health care reform, and are frequently asked for their opinions on timely legal issues. They also act (for the students’ amusement) and win dancing

7. Bar Passage. Our July 2010 Virginia bar passage rate (for
first time test takers) was 92.6%, the highest passage rate of the Virginia law schools. The state average was 79.8%. William
& Mary also enjoys high bar passage rates in other states as well, such as California and New York.

6. Competitive teams. Do you like to play…and win? Our
competitive teams work hard and it has paid off this year. The Moot Court team brought home many trophies this year, winning the International Criminal CourtMoot Court Competition at Pace Law School (and advancing to the Hague), the Charleston School of Law, National Moot Court Competition, the Regent 2011 National Constitutional Law Moot Court Competition, and the 21st Annual National First Amendment Moot Court Competition at Vanderbilt University in one month. Yes, in one month. Also, the National Trial Team has had wonderful success this year, securing a first place finish at the National Pretrial Competition hosted by Stetson Law School and earning many other awards in 2010.

5. Legal Skills. It is so important to develop practical skills while in law school. Many law schools have developed similar programs (imitation is the sincerest form of flattery), but we still think ours
is pretty special. It won the first national ABA Gambrell Award for Legal Professionalism in 1992 and was recently featured in a US News and World Report article as part of their “10 College Courses That Will Pay Off at Work.”

4. Citizen Lawyer. We have always believed that lawyers
should be actively engaged in their community. This ideal, first
articulated by Thomas Jefferson and George Wythe, is alive and well at the
school today. Here are just a few examples:

  • Three William & Mary Law students have won
    the Oliver White Hill Law Student Pro Bono Award from the Virginia State Bar,
    more than any other law school.
  • 74 members of the class of 2010 were recognized
    as W&M Community Servants, providing more than 3,400 hours of volunteer
    work (and no, we have no pro bono requirement. Our students do it because they
    want to).
  • The Public Service Fund (PSF) raises money to
    provide stipends to students with unpaid, public sector summer work. One of
    PSF’s biggest fundraisers, the PSF Auction, was held a couple of days ago on
    February 19 and raised $27,000 for this wonderful cause.

3. Career Services. I think it is fair to say that the legal market is not the same as it was 5-10 years ago. So, it is important to find a law school with a flexible and adapting career services office. The Office of Career Services (OCS) at W&M is a fantastic resource for students. With one-on-one counseling, creative uses of technology (like Skype interviews), and an experienced staff, OCS works hard to find the best opportunities for our students.

2. Community. There is really no way to convey the atmosphere of the Law School. I can’t link to any news stories about it or show it to you in some tangible way. But, it exists and it is a major reason why people choose to come to W&M. Come visit us and see it for yourself.

1. The Experience. In a world of law school rankings and
scholarship awards, many applicants simply choose their law school based on the aforementioned criteria. But, they are doing themselves a disservice. They may end up at a law school that is a terrible fit for them; this will probably affect their academic performance and, in turn, their career prospects after
graduation. However, for those who consider more than rankings and money, for those who consider how well they “fit” into a law school and who are interested in not only earning a JD, but also enjoying themselves along the way, they will choose the right law school for them. For some, William & Mary may not be
the best fit. But, for many of our admitted applicants, W&M could be the perfect place for them to learn, thrive, and succeed.

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