Making the Journey Together: Claire and Justin’s Story

zimmermanby Liesel Zimmerman, Class of 2018

Every year around Valentine’s Day, Get Wythe It shares the stories of students who are in love in law school, and that number is even higher than you may think. Statistically speaking, over 25% of William & Mary alumni end up marrying each other! While most meet their future spouses on one of William & Mary’s campuses, 2Ls Claire Hunter and Justin Lashley were already ahead of the curve when they applied. Having met in undergrad, they knew that the best way to tackle the struggles and triumphs of law school would be to do it together.

Justin and Claire first met during their sophomore year at Dartmouth College. At that time they knew each other as friendly acquaintances; it wasn’t until the fall of their senior year that they reconnected and started dating. Justin was the Treasurer of his fraternity, and Claire was the President of her sorority. In true fairy tale fashion, their organizations’ houses were right across the street from one another. As their undergraduate careers were ending, their story was just beginning.

JustinClaireAfter graduation, Justin and Claire worked in New York City for a year. Claire, originally from Australia, wanted to be closer to her family, so she and Justin then got jobs in Sydney. Justin was grateful for the opportunity to get to know Claire’s friends and family, and Claire enjoyed being home after years of studying in the United States. After about a year in Sydney, Claire and Justin decided that they wanted to go to law school. Rather than pursuing a long distance relationship, the couple applied to the same schools, planning to go together. Both were excited to find out they had been admitted to William & Mary. Though they loved city life, they knew they wanted to study law in a quieter, more close-knit community, which made William & Mary the perfect fit.

Justin and Claire came to the law school as a couple, but they are pursuing their individual interests, are involved in different clubs and organizations. They have formed groups of friends on their own, while sharing mutual friends as well. They enjoy having each other as a support system, being able to study together, and discuss all they are learning.

In March of 2015, after spending a nice day in Richmond, Justin proposed to Claire at College Landing Park, just down the road from the Law School. Many of their classmates and professors were surprised at the engagement, thinking these 1Ls had only known each other for a matter of months! But Justin and Claire’s story spanned several years and multiple continents. They are thrilled to share their futures with one another.

This summer, Claire and Justin will be returning to New York City for summer associate positions at large law firms. Though they’ll be in the big city, their firms are located only a block apart, allowing for lunch dates and shared commutes. With Justin’s family living about an hour outside of New York City, the pair plans to work in New York after graduating next year. In the future, they hope to return to Australia as well, to be close to Claire’s family. Wherever life takes them after William & Mary, Claire and Justin are excited to be making the journey together!

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From Paul’s Deli to New York City: Meredith and Matthew’s Story

satiraby John Satira, Class of 2017

In February of each year, we like to highlight some of the couples that have found love while at William & Mary Law School (you can find past stories here and here). This year, we are happy to showcase the love story of Meredith Hunt, J.D. ’14, and Matthew DeAtley, J.D. ‘13.

M&M DatingDepending on who you ask, you could get pretty different stories on how newlyweds Meredith Hunt and Matthew DeAtley first started their relationship. Meredith will say that she met second-year student Matthew at Paul’s Deli near the beginning of her first year at William & Mary Law School. Matthew, however, does not remember that interaction at all. The two do agree that, after first meeting each other (however it happened), they would often run into each other at the gym due to both sharing an enthusiasm for athletics and fitness. Meredith will then say that their first date was when she asked Matthew to go to the local coffee shop Aroma’s after he had been trying to ask her out for a year and a half. Matthew will claim the two’s first date was when he asked her to go to the DoG Street Pub.

Regardless as to how they first met or where they went on their first official date, Meredith and Matthew were able to make their relationship work after they started dating in early 2013. Matthew graduated in May of 2013 just as Meredith was preparing to start a summer associate position at the Simpson Thacher & Bartlett law firm in New York City. Matthew joined Meredith in New York City and studied for the bar exam there, and by the end of the summer, both returned to Virginia. Matthew began an associate position at Williams Mullen in Virginia Beach while Meredith returned to Williamsburg for her third-year as a law student. Throughout the year, Meredith would visit Matthew at his place in Norfolk each weekend.

M&M ProposalThe biggest change occurred in October of 2014. In one week, Matthew proposed to Meredith, the two moved into a new place in New York together, and both began new jobs at law firms in New York City. Meredith started as a first-year associate at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett focusing on mergers and acquisitions, while Matthew started a new job at Paul Hastings as an associate in its real estate group. With both working at large law firms, needless to say, the two’s engagement period was very busy, with most free time being devoted to wedding planning.

On January 2, 2016, the wedding day finally arrived. Meredith and Matthew were married in Meredith’s hometown of Palm Beach, Florida, in a large and well-attended ceremony. About thirty of the wedding guests were Meredith and Matthew’s former William & Mary Law School classmates. Now, as newlyweds, both Meredith and Matthew are happy to spend time with each other as a married couple, although the change that resulted from marriage is nothing compared to the week during which the two got engaged, moved to New York, and started new jobs.

We at William & Mary Law School wish Meredith and Matthew a happy and healthy marriage, and we are proud to have played a small part in bringing the two together!

M&M Wedding

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JD/MBA Information Session

kingby Garrett King, Class of 2018

On January 30, I attended an information session regarding William & Mary’s JD/MBA joint degree program. In this program, a student can earn both a Juris Doctor and Masters in Business Administration in four years. Usually it takes three years for a JD, and two years for a MBA. Therefore, you shorten the total time, and tuition, required to earn both degrees.

At the information sessions were representatives from both William & Mary’s Law School and the Mason School of Business. For current law students interested in the program, the curriculum is designed so that you take classes for the first two years at the law school, the third year at the business school, and the fourth year, a combination of courses from both schools.

There are many reasons why a student may pursue a joint degree. Some students attend law school to receive analytical training, but intend to work for a business after graduation. For these types of students, a JD/MBA program would strengthen a student’s job profile by giving him the business training necessary to succeed at a high level corporate position. It’s important to have strong reasons for getting a dual degree as there can be a downside to the joint degree for law students wanting to enter law practice. Our Office of Career Services staff is available to counsel students who are considering also pursuing a MBA.

Although this program would be a tremendous opportunity, this would mean being in school an extra year, which should be viewed as a large commitment. I am currently undecided about the program, but I have a year to decided whether to apply. Regardless of my decision, law students are allowed to take certain courses in the business school and apply those course credits towards obtaining a JD. These cross-listings encourage law students to take classes offered within various William & Mary graduate schools. This interdisciplinary approach would likely be beneficial for a student simply to observe how other graduate schools operate on a daily basis.

Over the next few weeks I will probably talk to current students within the JD/MBA program to seek their advice. Moreover, the Dean of Admissions for the MBA program offered to let me observe a class lecture. I will likely take advantage of this offer. If you have any additional questions about this program you can either email me, or look up information online regarding the JD/MBA dual degree program.

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Martin Luther King Jr., and Civil Disobedience: A Talk by Dean Douglas

zimmermanby Liesel Zimmerman, Class of 2018

On Tuesday, January 19th, students and staff had the privilege of hearing Dean Davison Douglas, Dean of the Law School, speak on the legal implications of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” Dean Douglas has an extensive background in Constitutional History and Civil Rights Law, especially concerning race in America. Knowing of Dean Douglas’ expertise in this area, I was grateful to have the opportunity to attend the event and learn about the legal implications of King’s nonviolent forms of protest.

Dean Douglas set the scene by explaining that in the spring of 1963, Birmingham, Alabama was the site of the Birmingham Campaign, one of the most influential movements of the Civil Rights Era. In continuation of the peaceful marches and sit-ins that were occurring, King sought a parade permit to lawfully march down the city streets. Birmingham enjoined the demonstration by issuing an injunction. King was warned that if he disobeyed the court order, he would forfeit his right to dispute the merits of the injunction. Still, King and a formidable crowd of protestors walked along the sidewalks. They did not wave signs, and they did not chant. They simply walked, and when police arrived to stop the protest, the crowds were viciously attacked with fire hoses and police dogs. King was arrested at two o’clock on that Good Friday, as a Christ-like figure being punished for taking a stand.

MLK1While in his dark, desolate cell, King found out about a letter that eight white clergymen wrote attacking him. In response, King penned his famous “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” Dean Douglas explained that the theme of the piece was “Why we can’t wait,” wherein King described that for the oppressed African American population, “wait” really meant “never.” African Americans would never get the rights they deserved if they continued to passively wait for them. For this reason, King had developed his practices of nonviolent civil disobedience.

As Dean Douglas conveyed, Dr. King believed that there were specific criteria to be adhered to for civil disobedience to be effective. First, one who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, so as to make a bold statement. Second, a person must break that law lovingly. Following Gandhi’s nonviolent system of civil disobedience, King believed the cause was best furthered when the protestors showed respect to their oppressors. Third, when one breaks an unjust law, they must be willing to accept the consequences. This aspect shows dignity, and it binds together the three criteria into one powerful message.

MLK2Dean Douglas translated King’s philosophy of civil disobedience to modern day examples. He discussed the armed ranchers in Oregon, who are still in the midst of a standoff over rights to grazing lands. He also discussed the actions of Edward Snowden, the government intelligence employee who disclosed classified government information to the public. In both instances, Dean Douglas explained that the examples fell short of King’s standard by not satisfying all three requirements. The armed ranchers have not been practicing loving peaceful protests, and Snowden has fled the country and refused to accept the consequences of his actions.

Dr. King’s appeal of the injunction went all the way to the Supreme Court, where it was decided against him in a 5-4 decision. Even so, King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” and his courageous efforts of civil disobedience ultimately led to victory for many of the goals of the Civil Rights Movement. Dean Douglas’s talk was a compelling tribute to Dr. King and his fight for just laws through peaceful protest.

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Lunch Options

kingby Garrett King, Class of 2018

Let’s talk about something extremely important: lunch at the Law School’s café. The café is called Zime (I don’t know the story behind the name), and they serve breakfast, lunch, and coffee. Lots of coffee.

Originally, I came into law school thinking that I was simply going to bring lunch everyday and eat while I studied, but after I discovered the BBQ chicken salad at Zime, I changed my mind! I now buy lunch virtually everyday. While many students do bring their lunch, the café’s food is great and relatively inexpensive. For lunch, the café also serves custom sandwiches, sushi, and other types of salads. Additionally, they have pastries and deserts available all day.

While I am a loyal lunch customer, their breakfast is even better. They have various breakfast sandwiches including my favorite: an egg white bagel with cheese and sausage.

zimeIn addition to the food menu, the café also serves various drinks including hot coffee, iced coffee, and tea. For the coffee, they have a wide variety of flavors and never run out. Although many people buy cups at the school, I bring my own coffee cup and refill it for a little more than a dollar. For refills, it is the same price regardless of the mug’s size. Also, ask for a punch card at the cash register, and with every 10 coffees you purchase, you get one free.

Although the food at the café is great, if you prefer to bring your own meals into schools, that’s perfectly fine too. Adjacent to the café is a room with two giant refrigerators and five microwaves. Before I started buying my lunch, I would leave my meals in the refrigerator all day, in an unlabeled container, and nobody would touch it. This just shows that if you do want to bring your own food, you don’t have to worry about another student possibly snatching your lunch.

Additionally, for those who stay late at night and still need caffeine, the Law School has vending machines near the refrigerators that offer Starbucks iced coffee, Gatorade, and other energy drinks. All of these options cost around one dollar, and if you don’t have money in your wallet, you can use your Dining Dollars of the Law School’s ATM located within the café.

While I understand that this post seems a little silly, in reality, the café is a major part of my day. Having a convenient place where I can buy food and drinks without leaving the building allows me to be more efficient as a law student. Although I hope everyone does choose to attend William & Mary, no matter what law school you attend, please ask current students about their dining options within the law building. I promise that it will make a difference in daily law experience.

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The Student Division of the Institute of Bill of Rights Law

by Kate Lennon, Class of 2017lennon

The Student Division of the Institute of Bill of Rights Law, or IBRL:SD as it is commonly referred by students and faculty, serves as a chance for students to get involved in topics surrounding the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. We host a number of social and academic programs throughout the year that allow for learning and conversation on a variety of Con Law issues. Some of the programs hosted by IBRL:SD include Constitutional Conversations, the Scholarly Lunch Series, and the annual Edmund Randolph Award for Excellence in Oral Advocacy, otherwise referred to as “the Silver Tongue Award.”

Constitutional Conversations is community-based education project that facilitates law students going into the community to educate citizens about their civic rights and duties in hopes of inspiring them to be active participants in the democratic process. Constitutional Conversations includes different sessions for students and adults, both of which are taught by law students. The best part about Constitutional Conversations is that you can play a key role as a first-year law student without too much time commitment!

The Scholarly Lunch Series is also another way for a first-year student to get involved. Throughout the semester, IBRL:SD brings in speakers who are involved in Constitutional Law issues. In the 2014-15 academic year, we had various speakers including: Attorney General Mark Herring, Tim Bostic and Tony London (the Plaintiffs in Bostic v. Shaefer, the case that legalized same-sex marriage in Virginia), and Former Texas Solicitor General Jonathan Mitchell. Throughout the year, law students, and sometimes the public, are able to attend these events, which most times include free food (alway a bonus for the busy law student). For these events, we look to our members, especially first-year students, to help set-up and make the events run smoothly!

As part of the Bushrod T. Washington Moot Court Tournament, held for law students to compete for membership on William & Mary’s Moot Court Team, IBRL:SD gives out the Silver Tongue Advocacy Award. The 2015 Silver Tongue Award Recipient was Tom Goldstein, noted appellate advocate and co-founder of SCOTUSblog. It was a real treat to have him come to our law school to speak. Keep an eye out for the naming of next year’s recipient!

This is just a summary of some of the programs IBRL:SD is involved with. Overall, IBRL:SD is a great organization because it allows students to get involved, and to see and hear about the topics they are interested in. Whether it is a long debated issue or a new legal dilemma, our organization encourages students to learn, get involved, and enjoy their passion for Constitutional Law. If you are interested in Con Law issues — even if just for your personal interest rather than your career choice — I encourage you to attend a few of our events!

This post is a part of a series featuring William & Mary Law School’s student organizations. All post are written by student leaders. To read more student organization blog posts, click here

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My Life as a 2L

Student blogger and 3L student, Abby Snider, put together a video that reflected on her second year at William & Mary Law School.

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Wolf Law Library

kingby Garrett King, Class of 2018

If you can imagine this, I spend most of my time in the library. The building was renovated a few years ago, so even though William & Mary may be the oldest law school in the country, the library is very modern. The library consists of 3 main sections: (1) the hang out/leisure area, (2) the study tables, and (3) the study carrels.

The hand out/leisure area consists main of chairs and small tables to eat food or drink coffee. Many people come here simply to read emails or relax when they have free time, but not enough to start studying. The library also provides newspapers and magazines for those who simply want to get away from a computer screen.

4619414744_4a972dc265_mAdditionally, the library has a separate section with several long tables that are used for studying. These tables, like in other libraries, are in an open room with outlets and lamps throughout the table. For those who like studying with people, this is your place. This section of the library is in a room with panoramic windows that allow you to look outside at the scenery. Plus, these rooms have a ton of natural light, which is always preferable when studying.

Finally, the library also offers dozens of library carrels. While you might think that carrels are standard to all libraries, trust me these are not. Each carrel is big enough to hold two people, and their stuff. Plus they have two outlets and an upper portion to store books or school materials. I spend a majority of my time in this section because I like the “closed feeling” that a carrel provides, as opposed to the open concept at the study tables.

4619413954_00becf28ed_mWhile these are the three main sections of the library, there are also additional features worth highlighting. At night, I really like using a white board to memorize material/simply write it down to understand it. So I usually reserve a group study room. Each student has access to a website that allows you to reserve a separate group study room in increments of four hours per day. These rooms hold anywhere from 6-10 people, and are typically used by TAs during office hours. Although the rooms are technically for group studying, many individuals, including myself, reserve them just for solo studying. These rooms give me a change of scenery after spending all day sitting at a carrel.

In addition to these academically related features, the library also has a student lounge with a ping-pong table and pool table available 24/7. Although many people think that law school academics are competitive, they haven’t played ping-pong with a group of law students. My friends get really competitive with playing, but ultimately, the games are all in good fun because they give us a chance to relax and take a break from school. With finals upon us, this room not only helps us unwind, but also allows us to be more efficient studiers by allowing us to recharge ourselves during the final leg of this law school grind.

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The De-Stress Funfest

satiraby John Satira, Class of 2017

While the month of December normally brings about holiday cheer, we here at William & Mary Law School have to get though our finals before we can truly be joyful. Finals are a necessary part of law school education, and while they are important, it can be tough to manage the stress that comes along with them. Finals can be especially stressful in law school, and that is because in many classes the entire grade is based off of the final exam. As a second-year student, I’ve survived finals twice before, but it can still feel overwhelming sometimes.

1As I was preparing for finals, I was very happy to learn about the “De-Stress Funfest” that took place at the law school the week before finals on December 2nd. The event was sponsored by two student organizations: Lawyers Helping Lawyers and the Women’s Law Society. Both organizations and their student volunteers stocked the law school lobby with a variety of food, items, and activities meant to lighten the mood at the law school. Students could be seen chilling out with some coloring books, grabbing some free food and coffee, and even just lightening the mood by trying on some funny headwear that was 3available. Personally, I grabbed some food and spent some time doing a quick coloring page in between classes.

Lawyers Helping Lawyers did a great job establishing this event last semester, and I was happy to participate again this semester. The group is at work throughout the semester, though. Lawyers Helping Lawyers does much more than just help coordinate the De-Stress Funfest before finals. 2The group runs a variety of other events to help law students manage law school, including having a game night and meditation events. In a major event to promote wellness for attorneys, Lawyers Helping Lawyers even had a federal District Judge come in and speak about his battles with alcoholism. In fact, volunteers for the student organization offer their time to talk with any students that are feeling overwhelmed.

I absolutely cannot wait to wrap up my finals. But it has been great to know that the student community here is able to help me put this stressful time in perspective and even be able to enjoy the week.

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pembertonby Shevarma Pemberton, Class of 2018

Finals are over- yay! So let’s reflect on one of my favorite events of the year, Firmsgiving. Given the mounting stress level at that point in the semester due the anticipation of looming finals, Firmsgiving could not have come at a better time, courtesy of my fellow Section-mates.

food3In the spirit of the season, we decided to get together and break bread over our very own Thanksgiving meal. It was a great opportunity to take a step back, gain perspective, and enjoy each other before everyone went their separate ways for the break.  We set the date, selected our respective contributions to the festivities, and showed up for the lovely event. I elected to prepare the stuffing for the occasion, something that might not have been that well thought out. There is a lot of pressure surrounding the stuffing in a Thanksgiving meal, and there I was, attempting to make the dish for the first time. It felt like my law school experience—I stepped outside my comfort zone to do something I had not done before. And I have to say, like with all things I put my mind to, the stuffing turned out just fine. Interestingly enough, I found inspiration in that small victory.

The event was well attended and included all the members of my Section, as well as eager alums of the class. The menu included sweet corn pie, turkey, salad, home-made rolls, chips and dip, mashed potatoes, and the most delectable desserts imaginable (I was very disappointed that I was not able to immortalize the desserts in a picture). We all broke bread, relaxed, laughed, talked, and found a respite from the law school stresses. The alums were all too happy to give advice and provide incites that we are probably not too receptive to at this point, but I am sure in hindsight that it will be very clear—we are all going to be just fine.


I had a great time—we all did. And although this is not something we have expressly agreed to as yet, this could be the start of a Section tradition. That is definitely the position that I am advocating for.

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Looking Back on the First Semester’s Finals

willisby Blake Willis, Class of 2018

Wow, just like that December, and finals are already here and flying by. Its crazy to think that only a few short months ago, I was sitting in my first law school class, not totally sure of what I had gotten myself into, and now finals are done, and its certainly true what they say… Law school will change you.

Even within the first few months of being in law school, its clear that most students undergo a change. The environment that law school places students into provides a new lens to view the world through, and new tools to understand what they are looking at. The way you think has changed, the way you speak, read, argue and analyze have all changed and will continue to do so over the rest of your time in law school and afterwards (or so they say).

While its true that law school comes with a lot of stress, and even more work, its also true that it comes with a lot of fun as well. Being at a school like William & Mary offers a unique opportunity to really experience a lot. Its unique location offers easy access to a number of cities, such as Richmond and Washington, DC; its alumni network is second to none with alumni coming back what seems like every week to speak at an event, help with job searching, or teach a class; and its student community is a close-nit group, with a diverse background – every day, you will be challenged by them – and ultimately you will benefit from it, especially come finals time.

statuesBefore coming to law school, and before actually taking a law school final, I (like most, I think) had heard the horror stories of what they were like – long hypotheticals that don’t seem to have any sort of definite answer and writing until the very last second. While this is true in part, finals are not as bad as the stories make them seem. While they are certainly long, and can put your brain through a mental gauntlet, they are no more than what you have been prepared for all semester. The truth of the matter, at least at William & Mary, is that your professors WANT you to do well. They want to challenge you, but they also want to see you succeed.

Yes, law school exams are stressful, you will inevitably spend hours creating an outline, reviewing it, and using it to take old practice exams, preparing. But don’t stress too much—its important to remember that over stressing and over studying for a final are not good ways to prepare. Having some faith in your abilities as a student, and in the preparation that you have received throughout the semester will go a long way in helping to keep you sane, and in helping you to prepare effectively. Ultimately, every student had their own way of preparing for finals, and you will have to find out what works best for you; but no matter what that is – remember (like the rest of the semester) its important to keep some balance – take time for your self and relax. By the end of your first semester, you’ll see how much you’ve already accomplished.

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