It’s Law Week at William & Mary Law School


At William & Mary, Law Week is the first introduction that 1L students have to legal practice. The curriculum was designed to ensure that William & Mary Law students are learning about the foundational components for successful lawyering outside of the necessary coursework like Constitutional Law or Civil Procedure. Legal writing, analysis, professionalism, and networking are all vital to being a successful lawyer, as well as a successful law student! Truthfully, it can be a lot of information to take in. Dean Douglas says it best: This week, information can come at you like water out of a fire hose. We do our best to balance the week with fun socials, scavenger hunts, and plenty of ice cream.

Before their first day, the class is divided into small sections of 12 – 14 students that work with an assigned upperclass fellow and a faculty member who specializes in the field of legal writing; this way, there is a more hands-on and personalized approach to the first year of law school, and Law Week.

To give you an idea of what Law Week looks like this year, here’s a quick run-down of a few events.

Monday, Opening Ceremony in Kimball Theateropening ceremony

This is the first time that the incoming class is gathered together, not as individuals from across the country, or even as aspiring lawyers, but as a community. This year we welcomed students from across the country and around the world in the historic Kimball Theater as new citizen lawyers who will take on the rigors of law school together, challenging and supporting each other along the way.

Dean Douglas opens the morning by welcoming the class and highlighting a few of the fun facts that we’ve learned through the admission process (make sure to read last week’s post to find out some of our favorites!). He then introduces the Chair of the Honor Council who welcomes the students into the law school community by administering the Honor Code. At William & Mary, the Honor Code is one of the oldest and most revered traditions, and we ensure that every student who joins our community understands the importance of thecharge, “I pledge, on my honor, not to lie, cheat, or steal.”

Following the Honor Pledge, the Director of the Legal Practice Program addresses the class, followed by the keynote speaker. This year, we had the pleasure of hearing from Barbara Johnson, J.D. ’84. As an alumna, the former chair of the William & Mary Law School Foundation, and a current member of the Board of Visitors, Ms. Johnson’s ties to the William & Mary community remain strong, and her practice in Washington, D.C., is a testimony to her diligence in the preservation of civil and human rights.

Tuesday, Introduction to the Legal Profession

It’s Day 2, and we hit the ground running! Tuesday is dedicated to introducing students to the idea of lawyering skills and the expectations of their day-to-day life as a lawyer. From the first introduction to the U.S. legal system, to learning how to correctly and effectively read, analyze, and brief cases, it can be a whirlwind. Students also get a preview of the simulations they will complete in their Lawyering Skills courses taken during the first three semesters. Practicing attorneys, who serve as adjunct faculty members within the law school, teach these courses to emphasize the direct application of information to real-world scenarios so that students can receive immediate feedback on their individual approaches.

Wednesday, Your Career Starts Now

It’s never too early to start considering the best career path, and the Office of Career Services makes sure to reinforce that idea with new students. Day 3 is in full swing with presentation and alumni panels for students to network and get personal testimonies on the importance of internships, externships, and early job searches. OCS ensures that students understand that taking advantage of connections, staying open-minded, and utilizing the services provided by the office early and often is the most advantageous way of securing summer and post-grad positions.

Thursday, Criminal Law Classes

One question that comes up a lot for new students tends to be, “How bad is a cold-call really?” Day 4 starts off answering that question with the first law class of the year, and it’s a good one! For the first time, students will engaged with their professors and classmates in the academic experience. As nerve-wracking as the first class may be, it’s always a highlight of law week. We make sure to follow it up with a scavenger hunt across main campus so that students have an opportunity to explore the historic grounds as well as burn off any of the nerves that may have built up over the course of the morning!

Friday, Ice Cream & Student Activities Fair lawcappella

We end Law Week on a high note, and we have found that ice cream makes for the best way to end a long, and sometimes overwhelming, first week. Being involved in law school is an important part of the experience, so we make sure to highlight our many student organizations during the Student Activities Fair. This gives everyone an opportunity to meet current students, learn more about different organizations, and see the many ways that they may be able to apply their talents and interests to the law school community. Between journals, competition teams, special interest groups, intramural teams, musical and theatrical groups, and honor societies, there is something for everyone who is interested in joining!

Law Week is always an exciting time of year for everyone within the William & Mary Law School community – we could not be more excited to welcome the Class of 2021 to Williamsburg and see how the rest of the 2018 – 2019 academic year turns out!