Experiences and Opportunities in Election Law

shanaShanna Reulbach is a 3L from Rochester, New York.  She double majored in political science and history at the State University of New York at Geneseo, graduating in 2010.  Shanna is a Graduate Research Fellow and the senior articles editor of the Law Review.

I am a 3L at William & Mary, and I have had the wonderful experience of being a Graduate Research Fellow (GRF) for all three years.  As a college student, I majored in political science and history and ran an organization dedicated to campaign finance reform.  I was interested in elections, and William & Mary stood out to me during the law school application process because it sponsored election law fellows through its GRF program.  I applied for the Election Law Fellowship and had the great fortune of becoming one of two GRFs to the Election Law Program.

The Election Law GRF position afforded me incredible research opportunities in the field I was passionate about starting on my first day as a 1L.  Professor Rebecca Green, co-director of the Election Law Program, had me maintain a blog page on campaign finance on the Election Law Society’s website, assist in researching one of her academic articles, and participate in the planning of election-related moot court events that gained national attention.  All of these projects were very interesting and enjoyable, and they helped me develop research and writing skills early on in my law school career.  Furthermore, the skills and subject-matter expertise I developed have helped prepare me for job interviews and summer internships.

Another great benefit of GRFing is that it enables students to form a relationship with a professor outside of the classroom.  Professor Green has been a fantastic mentor during my three years and provided invaluable help in securing both of my summer internships—at the Brennan Center for Justice and the Virginia State Board of Elections.  Being familiar with my personality and work product, she was able to make phone calls and write recommendation letters for these positions and for clerkships.  And when opportunities for extracurricular projects have come up, Professor Green has generously offered to allow me to participate.  Through her efforts, I am currently researching and drafting a report on election delays for the American Bar Association and providing research support to the recently created Presidential Commission on Election Administration.  These are tasks I never dreamed law students would be tackling when I came to William & Mary, but I am so grateful that the GRF program is in place to enable students to learn beyond the classroom.

GRF was a big part of why I decided to come to William & Mary, and now I also view it as one of my most rewarding law school experiences.  The tuition reduction and living stipend made law school more affordable, and I do not think I could have gotten such in-depth familiarity with the field of election law at any other institution.  I have enjoyed my time as a GRF and believe that what I have learned, and the relationships I have established with the GRF community, will continue to be of value years beyond graduation.