How “GRF” Becomes a Verb – Life as a Graduate Research Fellow

by Lauren Bridenbaugh, Class of 2016

It is undeniable that cost is a significant factor in deciding what law school to attend. Between in-state versus out-of-state tuition, living expenses, and available financial aid, there are many factors to consider in determining what law school has the “best value” for you. Scholarships can play a substantial role in making the cost of a law school manageable. Luckily, a key program at William & Mary can put a serious dent in William & Mary’s already comparatively low cost.

Law LibraryThe Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRF) was part of my financial aid package when I was accepted to William & Mary. GRF’s are for out-of-state residents and gives the student in-state tuition and a stipend in exchange for working 8 hours per week. The type of work each 1L GRF receives varies but it typically consists of four hours per week in the law library and four hours per week working for an administrative office. For example, I work four hours per week for the Reference Desk in the library and four hours per week for the Admissions Office (part of my GRF is writing these blog posts for ya’ll). However, other students work for the Circulation Desk in the library, the Office of Career Services, and many others.

Depending on what office you are in, your experience varies but there are a myriad of benefits beyond the in-state tuition and stipend. GRF is listed on your resume as an honor which is obviously attractive to potential employers. It also gives you connections working with the administrators in your particular office and the law librarians. You often learn a lot about doing research in the library and where various books and journals are located. Furthermore, after your first year you have the opportunity to fulfill your GRF hours by working as a research assistant for a professor, working as a legal practice program fellow, or continuing to do library/administrative work.

If you have been offered a GRF, it is an offer worth considering. You make connections with faculty and staff, learn a lot about the operation of the law school and the law library, have the opportunity to work with professors, and impress prospective employers, all with relative ease!

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