by Brian Focarino, Class of 2015

Brian FocarinoLast week I sat on the front lawn of my house with members of my 1L firm as we constructed, nailed, stapled, taped, hammered, spray-painted, feathered, measured, and eventually finished a huge plywood W&M football stadium that served as our firm’s 1L Thanksgiving ‘Basket’ competition entry. We laughed and played loud music, and were probably negligent with a staple gun, as we enjoyed one last Indian summer day in Williamsburg.

Thank you, good fortune, for surrounding me with peers that last week alone contributed almost 4,200 food items (more than 20 per 1L) to benefit needy families in our area heading into this week of Thanksgiving.

Thank you for a fiercely competitive, often hilarious, reliably enjoyable 1L Thanksgiving ‘basket’ competition that’s not only consistent with the highest commitment of W&M law students to serve their new community and home, but also with the understanding that this legal education isn’t for us, but for others, and that to live up to our new role in the law, we too must give.

Thank you, professors, for teaching me more new and exciting and challenging concepts in the past three months than I could ever have expected just twelve short weeks ago. Thank you for teaching me, again, that verbs follow subjects but precede direct objects (you’d be surprised). You’re rousing to listen to, bizarrely accessible, and hysterical without meaning to be. You give implausible quantities of time and talent to those of just getting our feet wet.

I feel like a different student than I did three months ago. I write a different way and I think a different way. I can also navigate Lexis and Westlaw with only occasional, haltingly poor boolean searches. Thank you.

Thank you, fellow first years for bringing your A game to our class and to my life, and for forcing me to bring my own. Thank you for your penetrating insights, candid admissions of doubt, voracious love of memes, and expressions of shock and horror after you’ve been cold-called during Friday morning Torts class. We’re all in this together, and I didn’t expect to know that so many people would constantly be there with me and for me during this herculean effort.

Thank you for the late nights in the library and at bar reviews, the camaraderie, the nervous laughter, the lame law jokes we all get already, the re-tweets, the blow-offs of steam, and the fast friendships I don’t think any of us expected out of our first semester here. Thank you above all, William & Mary, for reminding me, each and every time I walk into the law library – full of free pizza – of the reason we’re doing what we’re doing here. And why this place has been doing it longer than any other of its kind in the country.

We’re here so that “justice and power [might] be brought together, so that whatever is just may be powerful, and whatever is powerful may be just.”* That’s a demanding commission, and our graduates have been toiling on the front lines for hundreds of years.

Thank you for three months preparing us to join their efforts.

Brian and his firm.

*From a passage by Blaise Pascall found on the stained glass in the Wolf Law Library.

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