Season’s Greetings

Holiday greetings to you from all of us at William & Mary Law School!

Law students have recently completed their exams and enjoying some much-deserved rest and relaxation over winter break.

Graham Bryant, a graduate of the College and second-year law student, has written about the annual Yule Log.  Students receive a spring of holly as they enter the courtyard.  The yule log is passed through the crowd and everyone touches it for good luck. Afterwards, students walk through the Wren Great Hall and throw their sprig of holly on the fire to throw away the worries of the past year.

Wherever you are this holiday season, we encourage you to throw a sprig and wish you a wonderful year in 2015!

Best Wishes and Happy Holidays!

PSF’s Halloween Party

wentworthby Christie Wentworth, Class of 2018

As I’m sure you have been warned, law school can be scary. This is not necessarily for the reasons you think, though! This past Halloween, the Law School transformed into a ghouly, eerie scene. Spider webs consumed tables, statutes transformed into the ghosts of their past, and witches cackled as they greeted innocent party-goers. Over three hundred students donned their finest—or bloodiest, or wittiest, or silliest—costumes for the Public Service Fund’s Annual Halloween Party. If there is anything law students take more seriously than academics, it might be Halloween costumes!

For the price of a ticket, students got to eat, drink, dance, and, most importantly, show off their creativity. The law school was filled with movie stars, cartoon characters, skeletons, farm animals, historical figures, vampires and the like. Students voted for their favorite costume in two categories—individual and group costume—and the winners in each received prizes for their creativity.

Best Group Costume: Seven Deadly Sins

Seven Deadly Sins

Best Individual Costume: Ricky Vaughn

Vaughn2

Vaughn

As with all PSF events, the proceeds from the Halloween Party will be used to support students pursuing unpaid summer internships. Thanks to generous donations from local retailers*, this year’s event raised over $3,400!

*Thank you to the following restaurants and retailers for their generous donations: Dominos, Z Pizza, Harris Teeter, Martin’s, Trader Joe’s, Firehouse, Qdoba, Brickhouse, Emily’s Donuts & Café, Sal’s, Papa Murphy’s.

Learn more about our Student Bloggers here.

Bone Marrow Drive Pie-Eating Contest

lennonby Kate Lennon, Class of 2017

On October 28th, the Law School yet again proved that it could come together for a good cause. The annual Bone Marrow Drive Pie-Eating Contest went into full effect during the lunch hour. The goal of the contest is to raise awareness and funding for bone marrow related illnesses. For this event, students could purchase entry for $5.00. Upon entry into the actual event you are given a piece of pie (I had strawberry!) and a seat to watch an entertaining show. The entertaining show is a pie-eating contest. Who are the contestants? Well none other than our very own students, professors, and faculty! There was a student contestant representing each class year along with the various professors and faculty.

Throughout the week prior to the event students, faculty and staff had the opportunity to donate money toward the cause of bone marrow related illnesses. For every two dollars a person donated they could bring a contestant’s time for pie eating up or down 5 seconds. The idea was to try and bring up the time for a person you wanted to win or bring down the time for a contestant you wanted to lose. The rules for the contest were simple. Whoever ate the most pie in their allotted time, without using their hands, won! It ended up being quite entertaining to watch as the professors’ and students’ faces became covered in the pie of their choice.

In the end, the 3L student won the contest overall. He was also the student who planned the entire event! Professor Griffin won the faculty portion of the contest, maintaining his dynasty as the reigning champion of the faculty pie-eating contest (bringing his trophy from last year to the competition with him). Here you see professor Griffin after finding out he had won:

griffin 1

Professor Griffin did not just win a trophy, however. He was also given the opportunity to pie all the students in the face with whip cream pies. Here you can see Professor Griffin pushing a pie into the face of the 1L contestant (who ironically received a trophy for eating the least amount of pie):

griffin 2

The whole event was great. It was a great way to take a break from studying, eat some delicious pie, as well as raise awareness and funding for bone marrow related illnesses. The entire event raised $2,565!! It was definitely a success and I can see why they do it every year!

Learn more about our Student Bloggers here.

BLSA Fruitvale Station Movie Night

phillip lby Phillip Lecky, Class of 2015

Goals of the Black Law Student Associations (BLSA) include furthering the academic, social, and professional needs and goals of black law students, and working together to foster a successful learning environment. BLSA recently held a movie night in light of numerous recent events that have sparked much discussion on race relations and showed the film, Fruitvale Station.

The film depicts the last day of Oscar Grant, played by Michael B. Jordan, before he was fatally shot by a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) police officer in the wee morning hours of New Year’s Day of 2009 in Oakland, California. The film was produced by Forrest Whittaker and raises sociopolitical awareness about the BART shooting event.

panelPrior to the movie, Professor Blakely of the undergraduate campus offered some thoughts on current race relations.  After the movie, panelists composed of law professors, an undergraduate professor, and current post-bachelor students discussed the implications of the movie as well as matters pertinent to race and to perspectives on race.  Topics that were discussed included current thoughts on the predisposition of black males to violence; the institutional factors that cause stress to black males; the coverage of black males in the media; the climate of Ferguson, Missouri from an eyewitness; the role of hip-hop in black culture and whether it has been good or bad; the effects on black women when incidents of violence happen to black women; and stop-and-frisk laws.  The evening was at times emotional, but nonetheless thought-provoking. It was a great event sponsored by BLSA, and attendees walked away with needed food for thought.

Learn more about our Student Bloggers here.

PSF Singer-Songwriter

wentworthby Christie Wentworth, Class of 2017

For most people, November is just another month. Maybe it’s the time to start Christmas shopping, the time to dig out the snow shovel (at least if you live in New York, where I’m from!), or the time to plan your Black Friday schedule.

For law students, however, November is more than “just another month”: it’s the month before finals. For us, it’s the time to start (or finish) applying to jobs, the time to submit a note for journal, or the time to start outlining, all while balancing extracurriculars, externships, and, hopefully, a little fun.

Everyone handles these pressures differently, but for many people playing or listening to music can be a great way to relieve stress. Thankfully, the Public Service Fund hosts a timely event that gives students an opportunity to do just that. On November 14, over sixty-five students attended “Singer Songwriter”, an event where thirteen groups and solo artists performed original music as well as cover songs. For some law students, this was their first chance to perform in public. For others, playing at local venues is nothing new!

Ray Bilter Bagpipes2L Chris Generous started off with the only nonmusical act of the night—an impressive and energetic breakdance performance that left us all thinking about how we should really get in shape. 1L Ray Bilter followed with a few tunes on the bagpipes, bringing in both traditional Scottish sounds as well as some Irish jigs. Other highlights of the night included The Right to Bare Arms’ rendition of “Wagon Wheel”, Christmas music on the fife, an oboe and French horn duet, Cameron Boster playing original music on the guitar, a creative rendition of “Cups”, The Learned Hand Bluegrass Band’s “House of the Rising Sun”, Treedust’s “The Mother We Share”, Law Cappella’s “Say Something”, Dan Ginnetty’s “Tiny Dancer”, Miram Strauss performing “Hallelujah”, and a grand finale by Sean Bevil with “Walking in Memphis”.

The Learned Hand Blugrass Band

Even audience members such as myself who could not quite rise to the talent of the performing artists were invited—and encouraged—to sing-along. I will most certainly be attending the event next year and look forward to seeing some members of the new 1L class perform!

Learn more about our Student Bloggers here.

My Introduction to Career Services as a 1L

satiraby John Satira, Class of 2017

Starting December 1st, first-year law students can begin applying for their first legal internships. Upon starting law school, I had no idea that the first of December was such a significant date for 1L students. Thankfully, William & Mary Law School’s Office of Career Services (OCS) offered plenty of guidance in helping me prepare for my summer internship search.

I was first introduced to OCS during orientation week in August. At that time, a summer internship was the last thing on my mind. OCS acknowledged that much of our first semester as law students would be spent adapting to the life of a law student. However, the office still encouraged us to use our free time to explore different career opportunities.

To start us off, OCS had each 1L take a career self-assessment test. If I learned anything from the self-assessment, it was that I had no idea what type of law I wanted to pursue. Therefore, I took OCS’s other advice, and I began contacting current attorneys to learn about their experiences. I began to reach out to some contacts I had made as an undergraduate student, and I had some great phone conversations with lawyers in a variety of fields. While I still do not know what exactly I want to do, I have been able to narrow down my areas of interest thanks to the advice of those who I had talked to.

The Office of Career Services Staff

The Office of Career Services Staff

After doing some exploration on my own, OCS began having advisor meetings with 1L students in late October. I cannot describe how truly helpful my OCS advisor meeting was. My advisor and I talked about long-term career prospects and how to begin the summer internship search. She was able to offer me advice on potential summer employers, geographic considerations, and helpful internship listing resources.

In October and November, OCS also gave resume and cover letter lectures to help us refine the manner in which we will present ourselves to employers. I learned a lot at the lectures; needless to say, my resume received a major overhaul! I also used to dread writing cover letters, but the lectures instructed me on how to break down a job description, analyze my own skill set, and write an appropriate cover letter. Now, I am not nearly as intimidated as I used to be.

As December 1st inches closer and closer, I am excited to begin the internship application process. It is time to put all my newly developed internship-search skills to the test!

Learn more about our Student Bloggers here.

First Annual Friendsgiving Celebration

brownby Cathy Brown, Class of 2017

Since Thanksgiving is approaching, I want to say how thankful I am for the sense of community at William & Mary Law School, and specifically within my “firm,” Section 13.

What, you might ask, is a firm?  In the weeks before the 1L class arrived on campus, the Law School sorted us into “firms,” or sections of approximately twelve students.  We have all of our 1L classes with our firms, with our Legal Practice class consisting solely of this small group of twelve.

As most pre-law students probably know, there’s an ugly rumor that law students are ruthless and will stop at nothing to sabotage their classmates in an effort to get a better grade.  With this in mind, I arrived at school with pretty low expectations for my firm-mates.  I was hoping we could at least reach a level of tolerance so maybe – just maybe – I wouldn’t have to watch my back every single minute of the semester.

Fortunately, I couldn’t have been more wrong about my firm, or about the William & Mary community in general.  Everyone here is incredibly nice and really wants me to succeed, and nobody shows this more than the other students in my firm.  My whole section has become friends, and we’ve formed a great support system for each other throughout the past few months.  We help each other get through the week, whether it’s by loaning a charger for a dying laptop, going for takeout when we simply don’t have energy to make dinner, or sharing funny links on Facebook as a study break.  Of course, we also meet up on weekends for dinner, drinks, or a trip to a local pumpkin patch.

This past weekend, however, was by far the most fun I’ve had with my firm.  Weeks ago, we began planning “Friendsgiving,” which, in case you couldn’t guess, is a Thanksgiving dinner with friends.  Since most of us are going home to our families for Thanksgiving itself, we wanted to have an early celebration as a group.  Although we’re all busy with schoolwork and prepping for finals, each of us took time out of our busy schedules to make something to share and to relax with our friends

Friendsgiving buffet

Friendsgiving buffet

One brave soul offered to host and cook a turkey big enough for eighteen people (our entire firm, plus significant others)!  The rest of us contributed side dishes and desserts, ranging from homemade sourdough bread to mashed potatoes, and honey-baked ham to cranberry stuffing.  Needless to say, we were all pretty stuffed by the end of the night!

My contribution: apple pie and pumpkin cream pies

My contribution: apple pie and pumpkin cream pies

Although all the food was delicious, my favorite part of Friendsgiving wasn’t the green bean casserole or cornbread.  Instead, it was the company.  I’m so grateful that my firm bonded so quickly to form a “law school family,” and I’m thankful that I can share my law school experience with all of these great people.

So, until next year (yes, we’ve already decided to make this an annual event!), Happy Friendsgiving!

Section 13, aka: The best firm at the Law School

Section 13, aka: The best firm at the Law School

Learn more about our Student Bloggers here.

Excursions to Waller Mill Park

satiraby John Satira, Class of 2017

For success in law school, I have learned that scheduling free time for myself is important. Without time to relax and have fun, I would absolutely drive myself crazy!

Personally, I find a lot of enjoyment in physical activity. Back home in western Pennsylvania, I regularly visited local parks to run, hike, and bike their trials. Since coming to Williamsburg, I became determined to keep that pastime in my life. Thankfully, I found a wonderful park located only about a ten-minute drive away from the law school: Waller Mill Park.

My first trip to Waller Mill Park was purely to explore. After paying for my parking pass ($2), I spotted the park’s 286-acre lake, the Waller Mill Reservoir. The docks had a variety of canoe and kayaks for visitors to rent, and there was even a fishing pier. Although I was intrigued, I was not dressed for a day on the water, so I passed on the opportunity to head onto the lake and headed toward the trails for hiking.

waller mill 1My first trail was the Bayberry Nature Trail. A little under a mile in length, I enjoyed the simplicity of the Bayberry Nature Trail, but I definitely had the time and energy to check out another trail. I then made the trek to the Lookout Tower Trail, which was much more challenging. The trail was almost three miles long with varying elevation. The trail gets its name because it contains a tower overlooking the Waller Mill Reservoir and that tower offers a spectacular view. The rest of the trail is also beautiful with plenty of scenery to enjoy. Upon completing the Lookout Tower Trail, I headed home, very happy with my first Waller Mill Park experience.

My subsequent trips to Waller Mill Park have been for runs on the bike trail. Nicely tucked into the wooded forest, the bike trail is a two-mile, asphalt trail that is perfect for running wallermill 2and biking. Two miles is on the shorter side for a bike trail, but the scenery is beautiful, so I did not mind doubling back on the trail to up my mileage. On warmer days, the shade from the trees above the bike trail can make any run more enjoyable.

Before the weather gets too cold, my next trips to Waller Mill Park will involve some of the other activities available. First on the list is kayaking. Visitors can rent a kayak or canoe for $5 per hour, and I cannot wait to explore that giant lake. Also, if my family ever visits with our dog, I will definitely be going to the dog park that is available!

There are plenty of other aspects of the park that I have not yet been able to explore (including a disc golf course). Want to learn more about Waller Mill Park? You can check out its website here.

Learn more about our Student Bloggers here.

Gum J.D. ’16 Recounts Summer Experience in Iraq

Kaylee-Gum

 by Leslie McCullough

Reposted from the William & Mary Law School News, Originally Posted on  October 27, 2014

The primary purpose of an internship is to offer students real-world experience. Few opportunities achieve that goal as profoundly as Kaylee Gum’s summer 2014 internship working to enhance the delivery of legal aid to the Iraqi people.

“It was a very interesting time to be in Iraq,” says Gum, a second-year law student at William & Mary. “As Iraqis look into the next steps for their country, it was interesting to hear local opinions and learn how people perceive the politics, economy, and future of their country.”

Growing up in a military family, Gum spent several years of her childhood abroad, living in Germany and Italy. She enlisted in the Air Force ROTC program and graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2013 with a degree in Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies, then continued directly to law school.

“William & Mary had great credentials and I knew I’d be happy here,” says Gum, who is a second lieutenant and reservist on an Air Force JAG educational delay. “I liked that the school offered lots of international law classes and that there is a lot to do outside the classroom to enjoy a well-rounded experience. Everything I heard was positive and it has all proven to be true.”

Last spring, when Professor Christie Warren, director of the Program in Comparative Legal Studies and Post-Conflict Peacebuilding, posted a selection of international internships, Gum applied to go Iraq, the only Middle Eastern country on the list.

“Almost 100 students have participated in international internships since the program began in 2002, but this is the first time anyone has gone to Iraq,” says Warren. “Kaylee’s experience was definitely unique, and she was the perfect match for the opportunity.”

Gum_Iraq_475x265For 12 weeks, Gum worked with two senior legal advisors in the Iraq Access to Justice Program, part of the United States Agency for International Development’s five-year effort to improve access to justice for vulnerable and disadvantaged people in that country.

“I worked on legal aid development within Iraq,” says Gum. “One of my primary projects was to conduct comparative research on legal aid systems in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and the United States. I drafted a document of best practices for delivery of legal aid in an ethical way.”

Her recommendations were provided to an Iraqi organization whose mission is to assist in the on-going development and sustainability of legal aid in the country. She also developed an assessment tool for legal aid clinics to ensure that those best practices are followed. Another part of her responsibilities included teaching the legal aid clinic staff how to write grants to fund their programs.

“I learned a lot about legal aid in general,” says Gum. “It was interesting to see both sides of the process. I had the opportunity to see how vulnerable groups can receive legal assistance and I got to see the inside working of the clinic. It was a perspective I wouldn’t get in the United States.”

Gum’s supervisors were thrilled with her accomplishments.

“Kaylee is thoughtful and analytical, and provided valuable input and feedback,” says Wilson Myers, deputy director of the Iraq Access to Justice Program. “In meetings with civil society, government, and international partners, Kaylee demonstrated professionalism and preparation and an impressive ability to communicate with stakeholders in both Arabic and English.”

The unrest that took place all summer in Iraq made Gum’s internship particularly challenging. She spent the first half of the summer living in Baghdad. During the second half, she was moved to Erbil, a city in Iraq’s northern Kurdish region. Baghdad was no longer safe, and concern mounted when Mosul and surrounding cities in the north fell to ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria). After careful assessment of the developing situation, and in consultation with her supervisors at the Law School and in Iraq, Gum made the decision to stay in the country to complete her internship.

“She handled herself impeccably in a very challenging environment,” says Warren. “Her experience is one of the best examples of why the Comparative Legal Studies and Post-Conflict Peacebuilding Program is so important and useful for the Law School. She benefited and the project benefited.”

“I never really feared for my personal safety and I never felt threatened,” says Gum of her summer experience. “I am very grateful for the opportunity and the contributions that made this experience possible.”

Gum’s internship was supported by a gift from Lois Critchfield, a donor who shares Gum’s interest in the Middle East.

“I’ve been involved with the College for more than 10 years, trying to help students focused on Middle East studies,” says Critchfield. “My long-time interest in the region goes back before Saddam Hussein. I had a career in the CIA, stationed in Jordan, and I made many visits to the embassy in Iraq. Iraq is a wonderful country, and I’m thrilled to be able to help students, like Kaylee, who are interested in helping the Middle East.”

Next summer, Gum will complete a required internship with the Air Force JAG Corps. After graduation, she will serve four years with the Air Force.

“I’d like to go back to the Middle East,” she says. “Ultimately, I want to work in international law.”

Read more about it: Kaylee Gum and other W&M law students who worked at projects around the globe in summer 2014 blogged about their experiences at law.wm.edu/voicesfromthefield. You can go directly to Kaylee’s blog here.

Another View- Supreme Court Preview 2014

brownby Cathy Brown, Class of 2017

In late September, the Institute of Bill of Rights Law at William & Mary Law School hosted its 27th Annual Supreme Court Preview.  This two-day event brought many esteemed legal scholars, journalists, judges, and attorneys to campus to examine the highest court in the land’s docket in its new term, which began in early October.  To my excitement, law students were invited and encouraged to attend as well.

To some, the prospect of attending a series of legal discussions on a Friday evening and Saturday sounds unappealing (especially because, as students, we spend quite a lot of time thinking about the law anyway!).  However, I’m a legal nerd.  In college, I decided to subscribe to not one, but two email bulletins about the Supreme Court of the United States.  Through these updates, I’m notified from October until June whenever the Court so much as sneezes, and certainly whenever the justices grant certiorari to a new case or release an opinion.  I was therefore intrigued by what the Supreme Court Preview would have to offer.

Supreme Court Preview 1The Preview began with a Moot Court demonstration of a case that will go before the Supreme Court this term.  Although many of the intricacies of the case went over my head (I am only a couple months into my law school education, after all!), it was still really interesting to watch seasoned professionals – who have both argued before the Court – deliver compelling oral arguments in one of the lecture halls where I go for class every week.  It was also entertaining to see some of my professors pretending to be the Supreme Court justices presiding over the case and interrupting the attorneys’ arguments to ask a barrage of nuanced questions.

As I already mentioned, I didn’t understand everything that was said at the Supreme Court Preview.  I really shouldn’t be surprised about this; after all, I only have a B.A. in Government and half a semester of law school under my belt, whereas the professions attending the event have dedicated their lives to the legal profession and are preeminent members of the field.  Still, it was inspiring to be sitting among them for a few hours in the same room where I routinely struggle to understand my doctrinal coursework.   Before classes began, members of the law school administration reminded all the incoming 1Ls that our membership in the legal community begins in law school, not with passing the bar exam or arguing our first case.  My experience with the Supreme Court Preview proved this to be true and reminded me that I’m one of many professionals who are eagerly anticipating what the Court has up its sleeve for this new term.

Learn more about our Student Bloggers here.

Supreme Court Preview 2014

liz berryby Liz Berry, Class of 2016

The Institute of Bill of Rights Law held the 27th Annual Supreme Court Preview last month to discuss the upcoming term. The Preview features the people most knowledgeable about the Supreme Court—reporters, scholars, former Solicitor Generals, attorneys who argue in front of the Court, and even judges. It is, to sound slightly nerdy, the star-studded SCOTUS event of the season. As I’m in the Supreme Court Seminar class this semester, I actually had the opportunity to listen and ask questions of two participants– Judge Jeffrey Sutton, 6th Circuit, and Jeff Fisher, mastermind of Riley and co-director of Stanford Law’s Supreme Court Litigation Clinic– before the Preview. It was an incredible experience, as both spoke about topics and cases they were clearly passionate, and very knowledgeable, about.

On Friday, the Institute kicked the Preview off with a moot on the DC and 4th Circuit split over the ACA (a preemptive moot, as the Court has not yet granted certiorari). Andrew J. Pincus and Michael A. Scodro, both of whom have literally argued dozens of times in front of the Court, did an absolutely fantastic job advocating for both sides. Ultimately, the moot Court– with justices ranging from the New York Times Supreme Court reporter Adam Liptak to W&M Professor Allison Orr Larsen, recent star of The Colbert Report –ended in a 5-4 split in favor of the government. While the preview was a great forecast of how the Court might decide, it will be interesting to see if the Court actually grants certiorari.

Supreme Court Preview 2Saturday featured a series of presentations. Panelists spoke on different areas of the law the Court is sure to face this term—civil rights, business, First Amendment, and criminal law. It was truly fascinating to hear the preeminent scholars discuss what the Court will see this season. Some of them (especially in the business section) were actually discussing cases they were going to be arguing this term. Without giving away any of their Court strategy, they were very open about the many facets of the case and what it could mean in the future. Overall, the Preview was highly thought-provoking. All that’s left to do now is see how the Court decides the issues this term.

Learn more about our Student Bloggers here.

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