1L Tour of Colonial Williamsburg

satiraby John Satira, Class of 2017

I have always considered myself a history buff. I loved going to museums as a child, I enjoyed history classes in high school, and I majored in history in college. In a decision that surprised absolutely no one, I accepted an offer to join one of the most historical law schools in the country: the Marshall-Wythe School of Law. However, during the first few weeks of classes, I was so busy adjusting to life as a law student that I did not have the opportunity to explore and learn about historic Colonial Williamsburg on my own.

Thankfully, William & Mary offered a guided tour for law students to experience the vast history of the Williamsburg community. The event, sponsored specifically for 1L students by the George Wythe Society of Citizen Lawyers, involved an informational stroll around Colonial Williamsburg followed by a reception in the Sir Christopher Wren Building on the William & Mary campus. As if my love of history was not enough to encourage me to attend, Dean Davison Douglas himself was joining the 1L students, so I knew that it would be a worthwhile excursion.

04The event’s attendees were divided into different groups, and we were each led through Colonial Williamsburg by a very energetic and knowledge tour guide. Our tour guide was not alone in guiding the tour, as we met a few colonial reenactors who shared information as well! Some of my favorite informational tidbits include:

  • In colonial times, twice-convicted criminals would not only spend time in the stocks, where their neck and hands would be locked between two planks of wood, but their earlobes would also be nailed to the planks. Ouch!
  • During the Civil War, a Williamsburg citizen with no military rank regularly ordered soldiers to protect the town at all costs. But she was not concerned with her own safety; instead, she believed that Williamsburg was essential in founding the United States and that it must be protected at all costs.
  • Grave robbers that were caught digging in a Colonial Williamsburg cemetery in search of a Masonic treasure map were a partial inspiration for the Nicholas Cage movie National Treasure.

06The tour ended with a presentation by the George Wythe Society featuring Dean Douglas in the Wren Building, and nice reception followed. There was plenty of food and drink for all attendees. During this time, I was able to meet some more of classmates, and I also talked with 2L and 3L students from the George Wythe Society, who really piqued my interest in getting involved with the group.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my evening on the George Wythe Society Tour. I was finally exposed to the great history of Williamsburg, I got to interact with my fellow 1L classmates, and had a great dinner. What more could you ask for?

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BLSA Talent Show

by Philip Lecky, Class of 2015, and Christie Wentworth, Class of 2017

On Thursday, September 18, 2014, the Black Law Students Association hosted a talent show at the Williamsburg Regional Library. It was an opportunity for BLSA to start off the year by showing our visibility and prominence as an organization, and to bring people of diverse backgrounds together. The description of the event promised that the judges would not be “anywhere near as cruel and terrible as Simon,” but even if Simon Cowell had attended this talent show I don’t think he would have found much to criticize.

IMG_1860The Law School community, the undergraduate community, and the greater Williamsburg community were all intricately involved in making the talent show a grand success. Talents such as drummers, musicians, dancers, and spoken word artists graced the stage to exhibit their respective abilities. After each performance, the “not-so-cruel” judges—2L Brett Tensfeldt, 2L Shaina Salman, and Professor Griffin—provided their insightful and humorous commentary for the audience’s enjoyment.

With the diversity and quality of talent, the judges had their work cut off for them in eventually picking a spoken word artist to take the grand prize. After some deliberation, thIMG_1823e judges dubbed Greg Marinelli the winner. Greg, who had brought the audience to tears with his powerful spoken word performance, was both a well-deserving and humble victor.

In all, the night was a success for BLSA, the performers, and the students that had the opportunity to attend. President Matt Kemelek says BLSA intended for this event to serve several main purposes: to promote unity within the Law School, to establish a bond with the undergraduate community, to raise funds for BLSA’s community service objectives, and to help support travel expenses for group members to represent W&M BLSA at Regional and National Conventions.

IMG_1836Job well done to BLSA, the performers, the judges, and the audience for an event that is sure to be remembered for a long time!

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Constitutional Law Star Speaks in Annual Cutler Lecture

graham bryantby Graham Bryant, Class of 2016

William & Mary Law is no stranger to a variety of illustrious speakers on all aspects of the law. From the annual Supreme Court Preview to myriad guest lecturers the various student organizations bring in each year, students at William & Mary often find themselves faced with the difficult decision of with which speaker to spend their lunch hour on a given day.

Among the most distinguished of William & Mary’s speakers are those called upon to address the faculty and students during the law school’s annual endowed lectures. And Kenji Yoshino, the Chief Justice Earl Warren Professor of Constitutional Law at New York University School of Law, did not disappoint when he presented a talk entitled “Constitutional Factfinding: The Case of Same-Sex Marriage” during the 2014 Cutler Lecture on September 23.

Yoshino, a leading advocate for marriage equality and an anti-discrimination law scholar, was originally invited to deliver last year’s Cutler Lecture, but an unexpected snow storm that closed the university meant that Yoshino had no one to address—despite having already arrived in Williamsburg.

Thanks to the foresight of scheduling the 2014 lecture during a warm September, the Harvard, Oxford, and Yale Law graduate (who is also a Rhodes Scholar), presented his views on the distinction between law and fact as it relates to the immediate constitutional and social question of same-sex marriage.

10629287_755608304504220_3172313010524199479_oOn the surface, law and fact appear plainly different, Yoshino observed. Law is articulated by courts according to controlling precedent and subject to de novo review on appeal. Facts are discovered by a fact-finder—judge or jury, depending on the case—and are reviewed on appeal with clear error deference.

But two types of facts are addressed by courts, according to Yoshino—and this is where the law/fact distinction begins to blur. Courts make findings of adjudicative facts—the “whodunit” facts of a case, such as the fact that Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, the Prop 8 plaintiffs in California, were denied a marriage license.

In addition, courts can also make findings of legislative facts—the broad social facts not particular to a given case. For example, a court could determine that marriage is, at its core, about procreation.

The catch, according to Yoshino, is that both legislative and adjudicative facts are facts found by the court and subject to clear error review, even though only adjective facts are typically determined through the adversarial process of a trial. Legislative facts, on the other hand, are typically found by judge via non-adversarial means, such as the judge’s own research or amicus briefs.

The solution, Yoshino concluded, to the legislative fact problem is to step away from the pure distinction between law and fact, and to instead view the two on a continuum. Likewise, Yoshino argued that legislative facts should be established through adversarial testing, like a trial, and be subject to a new standard of review between clear error and de novo.

Intrigued? Good. Confused? That’s to be expected. At this point, it’s okay not to understand the fine points of the doctrines Professor Yoshino covered in his lecture. I’m a second-year law student, and I still didn’t follow his argument completely.

For a prospective student at William & Mary Law, the important take-away from this overview of the 2014 Cutler Lecture is that William & Mary allows students to engage directly with some of the top scholars on bleeding-edge issues in the law.

Even if you aren’t interest in a particular area of the law yet, speakers like Yoshino will help you explore new issues and begin to develop your views on them. And if you disagree with a speaker, that’s even better—William & Mary is a place where enlightening and respectful debate is encouraged among faculty, students, and visiting speakers.

The James Goold Cutler Lectureship was established in 1927 by James Goold Culter of Rochester, New York, to provide an annual lecture at William & Mary, the nation’s oldest law school, by “an outstanding authority on the Constitution of the United States.”

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Williamsburg Farmers Market

keefeby T.J. Keefe, Class of 2017

Whether you’re interested in stocking-up for the week’s meals, or just want an interesting stroll downtown, the Williamsburg Farmers Market is definitely worth a visit. Every Saturday morning, an impressive variety of vendors assemble in the city’s historic core. Arriving from all corners of Virginia, bakers, butchers, farmers, and other artisans bring their goods to town. Beginning at 9:00 AM, locals can stroll rows of tents in pursuit of everything from fresh fish to handmade soap. If you’re there early enough, you’ll likely catch live music and cooking demonstrations on Duke of Gloucester Street.

farmers market

I’ve been to the Farmers Market a number of times now and have had the chance to sample a few new foods. In addition to great chocolate milk, the Old Church Creamery offers small-batch yogurt that is worth a try. For a more adventurous dairy-fan, the Everona stand sells sheep’s milk cheeses that are sure to impress. If you’re more of a produce person, AgriBerry, Amy’s, and Zamora Produce all offer excellent seasonal fruits and vegetables. For protein, there’s a stand that sells local poultry, lamb and pork, and even one that sells bison steaks. No visit is complete without dessert, and King-of-Pops has that covered.  This gourmet-popsicle stand offers cold treats with flavors, including lemon basil and raspberry mint. All that variety makes for a very enjoyably experience. So, next time you’re up early on a Saturday, check out the Williamsburg Farmers Market.

Tomatoes

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William & Mary Law Takes on The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge!

lennonby Kate Lennon, Class of 2017

What do law students do for fun you ask? Well dump buckets of ice water on their professors’ heads of course. William & Mary Law School professors took on the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge by challenging the students to match their donation of $500. In return, the students would be able to dump the buckets on the professors. The Law School Community ended up raising more than $1,000 for the cause! On August 28th, the ceremonial dumping occurred!

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has become a nationwide phenomenon in order to raise awareness for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Dean Douglas wore a Lou Gehrig Yankees shirt in honor of the professional baseball player who suffered from and brought awareness to the disease. Dean Douglas also took part in the event by getting a bucket of ice water dumped on his head as well! Needless to say, being a spectator to the event was great! It looked a little something like this…

ice bucket

Even as a 1L, two of the professors that partook in the event were professors for my current classes! It was amusing to watch. Little events like this instantly bring a sense of comfort from feeling that you are part of a community. I think you know you’re in the right place when you feel that sense of comfort. It was a great experience for my first couple weeks of law school!

If you want to check out the dumping for yourself, watch the video below!

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PSF Cornhole Tournament

wentworthby Christie Wentworth, Class of 2017

Sun, chili, and high-stakes competition. What more could you ask for on a Saturday afternoon? On September 6, the Law School’s Public Service Fund hosted its annual Cornhole Tournament and added a new spin to “spice” it up: a Chili Cookoff. What is even better about this event is that, like all PSF initiatives, the proceeds will help fund public service internships.

Cornhole 3Forty-five teams* participated in the tournament, which was structured in a single elimination bracket that left no room for mercy. The participants tossed with everything they had, and the championship game came down to one single, nerve-wracking point. Ultimately, The Finger That Bites came out on top. Kang He and Andy Iammarino (both current 3Ls) of the championship team—who also placed second in last year’s tournament—not only earned the honor of being this year’s champions, but they also received a $100 gift card to Paul’s Deli. How did this team have such strong showings two years in a row? According to victor Kang He, it all comes down to three basic principles: focus, follow-through, and fun. This team legacy will be graduating in the spring, though, so get ready. Next year’s crown is up for the taking!

Notwithstanding the intensity of the Cornhole tournament, the other competition of the day, the Chili Cookoff, may have been even more hotly contested! Students had the opportunity to try six different chilies and then vote on their favorite. In a demonstration of how close this battle really was, two teams tied for second with fifteen votes each. 1L Steve Mikulic’s “Mexi-Can” chili, however, came out strong with twenty-four votes. When asked about his secret ingredient, Steve reminded aspiring chefs that “not all spices cook the same”; chili enthusiasts should remember that spices have specific cooking times and temperatures. If you prefer to leave the cooking to people like Steve, however, just come out and try some yourself at next year’s event!

Cornhole 2 Cornhole 1

Look out for more posts about PSF’s events. In October they will be hosting a softball tournament and a Halloween party!

*Team names included: The A-Maize-ing Team, We So Corny, I Believe That We Won’t Win, 1L of a Couple, LawN Order, Shuck Dynasty, Corn To Be Wild, Torts Illustrated, and many more. Prepare to join in on the corniness yourself next fall as part of the W&M Law Class of 2018!

Click here to learn more about PSF through an interview with last year’s Business Manager, Liz Heron

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1L’s Experience During Law Week

greenby Kelly Green, Class of 2017

The first week of law school is like trying to go from sitting still to a full sprint. During Law Week, the law school faculty, staff, and current students did an excellent job facilitating this transition via poignant lectures and, of course, multiple free lunches.

douglasSitting in the Kimball Theatre in Colonial Williamsburg, listening to Dean Douglas deliver his opening speech, which focused on the rich history of the law school as well as the diversity of the class, was an experience that I will remember for the rest of my life. However, I believe the less formal events may end up having the most impact on my future here. Whether it was casual conversations that I had during the ice-cream social with professors or connections that I made throughout the week with my fellow classmates, I now feel a sense of comfort that I know will be needed during my next two years here in Williamsburg.

IMG_0096All in all, Law Week is difficult to describe. It’s tough to put in words the feeling that I got when Dean Douglas handed me my Class of 2017 hat (a tradition here). I can’t begin to describe how nervous and excited I was to participate in my first Torts class with Professor Rajec. What I can say is that I now understand the necessity for Law Week because it helped me feel prepared to take the steps needed to become both a graduate from William and Mary Law School and a successful lawyer.

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Colonial Williamsburg Collegiate Pass

brownby Cathy Brown, Class of 2017

I like being a tourist.  This past summer, I had the chance to drive through sixteen states and a Canadian province on two separate road trips, taking lots of pictures and visiting numerous sites – and gift shops! – along the way.  I was excited to learn, during Law Week, about a special deal that Colonial Williamsburg offers to William & Mary students.  This gem is called a Collegiate Pass and lets me tour the entire historic area for free.  Yes, you read that right.  I can tour and explore dozens of colonial buildings and local art museums as many times as I want, and I don’t have to pay a cent.  With my Collegiate Pass, I can also get bargain admission on special Colonial Williamsburg events, like ghost tours and concerts.  In addition, I can get reduced-price tickets for my parents and friends when they come for a visit.  All I needed to do to get this offer was walk to the Lumber House Ticket Office and present my W&M ID card.

British flags line the street in Colonial Williamsburg.  As the woman who gave me my pass explained, “You’re not in the U.S. anymore.  It hasn’t been created yet!”

British flags line the street in Colonial Williamsburg. As the woman who gave me my pass explained, “You’re not in the U.S. anymore. It hasn’t been created yet!”

In addition to all the historic sites, downtown Williamsburg is also known for its numerous shops and restaurants.  The Collegiate Pass has me covered there too.  As part of my pass, I received a coupon book containing a bunch of good deals for businesses in Merchants Square – including a coupon to the William & Mary bookstore and a BOGO offer on coffee from Blackbird Bakery.  (I may or may not be planning to drink both coffees myself.  Don’t judge.)

Governor’s Palace in Colonial Williamsburg

Governor’s Palace in Colonial Williamsburg

Everyone knows that law school is a rigorous academic environment.  To maintain a healthy and happy life, it’s imperative to take some breaks and pamper yourself from time to time.  Going on “vacation” to a popular tourist destination that’s within walking distance sounds to me like the perfect way to forget about school for a couple of hours.  Especially if it’s free.

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2014-15 Student Bloggers

The Admission Office is lucky to have a number of student bloggers lending their writing talents to us by posting about their law school experiences throughout the year. 

Learn more about them below!

liz berryLiz Berry, Class of 2016

My name is Liz Berry, and I am a 2L from Westfield Center, Ohio. I came to William and Mary directly after graduating from Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio. With a double major in History and Political Science and a Pre-law minor, I was certain I wanted to attend law school. I spent my 1L summer at the Ohio Attorney General, Education Division. At the law school, I’m a member of the William and Mary Law Review, part of the Honor Council, a Student Admissions Ambassador, and a Graduate Fellow. I’m interested in civil litigation and regulatory work. [Read more...]

William & Mary Law School Wins 2014 Legal Food Frenzy

Governor Terry McAuliffe (left) and Attorney General Mark Herring (right) stand with representatives from the William & Mary VBA Student Council at a reception in July. The school collected 4,961 pounds of food for those in need during the eighth annual Legal Food Frenzy.Photo courtesy of the Virginia Bar Association

Governor Terry McAuliffe (left) and Attorney General Mark Herring (right) stand with representatives from the William & Mary VBA Student Council (l to r; Phil Harvey, Graham Bryant, and Sue Buyrn) at a reception in July. The school collected 4,961 pounds of food for those in need during the eighth annual Legal Food Frenzy.
Photo courtesy of the Virginia Bar Association

Congrats to William & Mary Law School’s chapter of the Virginia Bar Association! Due to their hard work, William & Mary took home the Attorney’s General Cup after collecting nearly 5,000 pounds of food during the eighth annual Legal Food Frenzy.

The Virginia Attorney General’s office, the Young Lawyers Division of the Virginia Bar Association (VBA), and the Federation of Virginia Food Banks partner for the Food Frenzy to see who in Virginia’s legal community can collect the most food for food banks  during two weeks in April.

William & Mary Law School won the law school division, with other categories including law firms and government and public service legal agencies. This year, over 1.4 million pounds were raised.

For the full news story, written by student blogger, Graham Bryant, click here.

See the other award winners on the Federation of Virginia Food Banks’ website.

New Additions to the Law School

This past semester, William & Mary Law School received a gift of bronze two busts – one of John Marshall and one of George Wythe.  For many years, these busts belonged to the Federal Bar Association in Washington, D.C.  (In fact, at least one of the two busts was a gift from the Law School to the Federal Bar Association.)

The Federal Bar Association decided that it no longer wished to display the two busts and put them up for auction so that they might find a more congenial home.  One of our alumni in Washington, D.C., bought them at auction and gave them to the Law School – along with the marble pedestals on which they are displayed.  They are a great addition to the Law School Lobby and are featured prominently when you enter the building.

In person, the heads of both Marshall and Wythe appear worn. It is rumored that decades of passers-by have given them a pat on the head – perhaps for good luck!

George Wythe

George Wythe

John Marshall

John Marshall

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