1L Diversity Opportunities

pembertonby Shevarma Pemberton, Class of 2018

The word “diversity” is thrown around a lot. But during my 1L year,  I felt the word take on new meaning, and I grew to appreciate what it represents even more. To put things in context, I think the discourse has made me more attuned to its importance in the legal profession. For one, the profession does not look enough like the population it serves. People feel comfortable when they can communicate with others they relate to. Diversity is not limited to race or ethnicity; it includes women—who are still largely underrepresented in the legal profession—and the LGBT community. But honestly, my law school experience thus far leaves me hopeful. Based on my experience exploring employment and scholarship opportunities, the future of the profession looks promising and will only get brighter.

The combined effort of the Admission Office and the Office of Career Services (OCS) here have been instrumental in highlighting many diversity opportunities. Both offices continue to ensure that students can cast the widest net possible to increase their chances of benefitting from these opportunities. Admissions circulates an email with scholarship opportunities, which is great, because it reduces the time that busy law students have to expend finding these opportunities on their own. I am very impressed at the number of diversity scholarship opportunities that I have gleaned from those emails. I do not have any good news as yet on that front, but I do for my summer employment this year!

I discovered several diversity opportunities through OCS. OCS also assisted with resume and cover letter drafting, interview preparation, and guidelines on follow ups—they essentially covered every step of the process to assist me in securing the job. I have to stress the importance of taking initiative and being proactive. While OCS has been a great resource in helping me seal the deal, I learned of the job opportunity by keeping myself apprised of the American Bar Association (ABA) news. The ABA is one organization that has been very active in its goal to improve the diversity of the legal profession. I applied for a position through the ABA Judicial Internship Opportunity Program (JIOP). JIOP is run in conjunction with several like initiatives, all aimed at producing effective, diverse attorneys to leave their mark on the profession. I am proud to say that I will be interning for a judge over the summer, and while I do not know what the future holds, I do know that I am excited and optimistic because my view of the horizon is very promising.

To learn more about our student bloggers, click here.

Admitted Students Weekend: Making the Right Choice

willisby Blake Willis, Class of 2018

Deciding on which law school you will attend can seem like a stressful choice, but as hard as it may sound, you should try to make it fun. It’s an exciting time in your life, and you should enjoy it as much as possible. While there are certainly many things that you will be considering, one of the most important steps that you can take in making your decision is visiting the schools that you are seriously considering. This will allow you to not only see the school, and its surrounding area, but it will also give you a chance to interact with the students, faculty, and community (and your potential classmates).

This month, William & Mary Law School hosted its annual Admitted Students Weekend. Over the course of the weekend, 174 admitted students and 115 guests visited the Law School, took tours, sat in on panel discussions with faculty and current students, met with admissions staff, learned about student organizations, and learned about the law school experience in Williamsburg.

12525189_1045653408833040_3964775838962883318_oWhile this can seem like a lot (and it is), it’s also an important experience in making your decision. It will undoubtedly give you a genuine feel as to what the law school is like. It’s also a lot of fun. Over the course of the weekend, the Law School is buzzing with activity between all of the visitors, student volunteers, and student activity groups. Admitted Students also have the opportunity to experience the Williamsburg community life on their own or with a host student on Friday night. This year, nearly 40 admitted students took advantage of this program, choosing to spend their Friday night exploring Williamsburg with a current law student.

Ultimately visiting the law school will help you to decide whether or not is the right fit for you, which is the most important part. If you would like to visit William & Mary but cannot visit on Admitted Students Weekend, there are plenty of other, smaller Admitted Students events that will take place on weekends throughout the spring. For more information please feel free to visit the Admissions Website.

To learn more about our student bloggers, click here.

Why W&M Law?

swinkby Austin Swink, Class of 2017

Over the past few weeks, as an Admissions Graduate Research Fellow, I have responded to questions from many admitted students via email and phone calls. One of the recurring questions that keeps coming up is, why did I choose William & Mary Law School?

I chose William & Mary over a number of other great law schools because of the chemistry this school has. I’ve told many admitted students that what I love about W&M Law is what’s in its DNA.

dwyerWe have great professors. They love to teach, and they are always willing to help you develop your understanding of the course material whether in class, office hours, or by appointment. I’ve had many a question answered by a professor in a concise email, and given how busy they are, the response time was reasonable and at times impressive.

We have great alumni, and they love to hear from current students when it comes time to look for internships, externships, and careers. If you look at the nation’s great law firms, government agencies, courts, and non-profits, you will not have to look much further to find our alumni doing great work and fulfilling the ideal of the “citizen-lawyer.”

Our journals are known widely for their scholarship, and they are likely to cover topics you care about. I have found that participation on a journal  at W&M Law is a rewarding experience that not only improves your research skills and methods, but improves your writing, helps develop your work ethic, and encourages you to be an organized professional.

Our town is known for its history. Williamsburg has so much to offer. Beyond Colonial Williamsburg, Historic Jamestown, Yorktown Battlefield, and Busch Gardens there are a seemingly endless number of historical markers and sites that will help you piece together the story of early America.

studentsOur school is a comfortable learning environment. Let’s face it, a large portion of law school is spent in the law school building and library. W&M Law has the comforts and environment that will help you to focus on your studies. Also, a new addition that is beginning construction is going to expand on that.

Our clinics provide great experiences. As a student involved in the Lewis B. Puller, Jr. Veterans Benefits Clinic, I can attest to this fact. Having the opportunity to work under the supervision of leading clinicians, with the ability to make a real-world impact in clients’ lives, is not something to overlook when evaluating a law school.  No matter which clinic interests you, it will be worth your time, and will develop your understanding of what it means to be an advocate.

Our competition teams compete to win. Whether it’s the Alternative Dispute Resolution Team, Trial Team, or Moot Court, these organizations travel to competitions focused on developing themselves as advocates, and doing so in a manner more professional and competent than the competition.

Lastly, our students enjoy their time here. We are a competitive and academically driven bunch, but we are friendly competitors. W&M Law has a reputation for being a place where students often collaborate in classes by sharing outlines and forming study groups in preparation for exams. We all want an A on the final, but we’re going to pursue that goal with an eye toward making friends and upholding that great W&M tradition, the Honor Code.

Given all these attributes, this is a truly great place to study law.

To learn more about our student bloggers, click here.

JD/MBA Information Session

kingby Garrett King, Class of 2018

On January 28, 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. With the joint-degree program, you shorten the total time, and tuition, required to earn both degrees.

At the information sessions were representatives from both William & Mary 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 could strengthen a student’s job profile by giving him the business training necessary to succeed at a 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 without being in the joint-degree program. 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.

To learn more about our student bloggers, click here.

2015-16 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!

borkMy name is Emily Bork, and I’m a 1L from Buffalo, New York. I attended Niagara University where I received my BA in Spanish with minors in Law and Jurisprudence, International Studies, and Latin American Studies. I spent my summers throughout college interning in the private legal sector and hope to gain experience in the public sector and government. One of the many things that attracted me to William & Mary is the DC Semester Externship Program and the opportunity to work and study in our nation’s capital. I am interested in learning more about immigration law and look forward to participating in the various international legal opportunities that William & Mary has to offer! [Read more…]

New Year, New Blog

Portrait of George Wythe, the College's - and the nation's - first law professor.

Portrait of George Wythe, the College’s – and the nation’s – first law professor.

You may have noticed that the Admission Blog has a new name– Get Wythe It!

We held a contest this past semester, asking students for new blog names, and we had over forty entries.

Here were the top ten blog names:

  1. The Seventeen Seventy-Nine
  2. Citizen’s Corner
  3. Rule 26(b): Discovering W&M Law
  4. A Lawyer and a Blog walked into a Bar…
  5. Raising the Bar
  6. Get Wythe It
  7. Citizen Bloggers
  8. The Griffin’s Nest
  9. Tribe Talk
  10. Marshall-Wythe Musings

After picking the top ten from all the entries, the Law School community voted and overwhelmingly selected Get Wythe It as the new name for the Admission Blog.

Two students, 3L Erin Barrett and 1 L Chris Generous, separately submitted Get Wythe It, so each were awarded a $25 Starbucks giftcard– the prize for the winning blog name.

Enjoy the new and improved Admission Blog name!

 

 

How to Find the Right Law School for You

by Rhianna Shabsin

How to Research Law Schools

One of the most important and most often overlooked steps in the application process is to research thoroughly the law schools you’re considering. Whether you’re just getting started in your law school search or are about to press “submit” on your applications, the right research can go a long way in ensuring you find a school that’s just right for you.

Getting Started: What to Consider In the Beginning

No two law schools are exactly alike, and the qualities that make one school perfect for one person may be the very things that make it the wrong choice for another. Here are some things to think about as you begin your law school research:

What are your career goals?

intl lawDo you want to work in public service? Land a job at a large firm? Work at a federal agency? The number and variety of jobs available to lawyers are vast, but different schools will have different programs available to meet your specific career goals. Look for things like clinical opportunities and externships, and take note of those places that have an active and engaged Career Services office. You may also want to consider the area of law you would like to practice in and look over each schools’ curricular offerings in that area. If you’re unsure what kind of law is for you, look for schools with well-rounded course offerings that will allow you to get a wide range of subjects under your belt before graduation.

Where do you want to practice relative to the school’s location?

Law schools are typically thought of as “national” or “regional.” National schools draw students from across the U.S., and they tend to have alumni in most states. These schools may have concentrations of alumni in specific areas of the country, but, generally speaking, their reach is nationwide. Alumni from regional law schools tend to be concentrated in one region, state, or even in one specific area of a state. Which type of school is right for you will depend on several factors, including the geographic region in which you want to practice after law school (if you know) and your financial situation and the relative costs of each school.

In what type of school environment will you thrive?

For the most part, law schools today are a far cry from the ultra-competitive environments portrayed in films like The Paper Chase and books like One L. But each law school has its own distinct personality, and the degree of collegiality will vary from one school to another. In addition, some schools will offer more interaction with and access to professors than others. Think about the type of environment that works best for you, and don’t be afraid to ask questions of admission offices and current students!

graduation

Resources

Now that you have an idea of some of the things to look for in a law school, it’s time to begin gathering that information. A great place to start is the LSAC website. It has information about law schools, preparing for the LSAT, and dates of law school fairs across the country. The resources on the LSAC site can help you as you work to narrow down the list of schools you’re interested in.

Next, look around on the websites of the various schools you’re considering. You’ve already thought about what you’re looking for in a law school – which schools offer the programs and environment that appeal to you? If you are still in undergrad, your school’s prelaw advisor is another great resource.

Finally, once you have your top schools narrowed down, consider attending a law fair or, if you’re able, visiting schools in person. Admission officers are happy to answer any questions, and most schools will set up a campus visit so you can get a firsthand look at daily life in law school. In fact, if you’d like to arrange a visit to William & Mary, we can do that for you right here!

This is a series written by the admission staff at William & Mary Law School about the admission and application process. The posts in this series will be published in no particular order and are not inclusive. The series is designed  to provide information and advice to our applicants as they apply to law schools!

W&M Law School Named a Best Value Law School

national juristThe October 2013 edition of The National Jurist ranks William & Mary Law School in the top ten of law schools that have the best value. The rankings were determined though data that reports average debt of 2012 graduates upon graduation, tuition, cost of living, two-year bar passage averages both nationally and in the state of Virginia, and employment percentages after graduation.

We are proud to be considered a best value law school by The National Jurist. To read the full article, click here.

W&M Law Super Lawyers

Super LawyersThe Super Lawyers list has been published, and 631 William & Mary Law School alumni have made the list. Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from all different practice areas. They are deemed Super Lawyers based on peer recognition and professional achievement.

Of particular note to the Admission Office are the Super Lawyers who also volunteer their time as Alumni Admission Ambassador. Our Alumni Ambassadors take time out of their busy lives, both professionally and personally, to speak to and to meet with prospective and admitted students. 73 W&M Super Lawyers are also Alumni Admission Ambassadors.

Congratulations to all of our William & Mary Super Lawyers!

Click here to see a full list of William & Mary Law School alumni who were named Super Lawyers.

Recommendations and Evaluations for Law School and for Life

by Faye Shealy

Recommendations and evaluations are an important part of William & Mary’s whole file review and are effective because they detail what makes the applicant stand out and because they paint individual pictures of each applicant. William & Mary Law School requires two recommendation letters or evaluations and welcomes more. Don’t underestimate the importance of these letters which may address your intellectual development, aptitude for independent thinking and research, analytical abilities, writing skills, leadership and/or creative qualities. After all, William & Mary Law School is an academic environment and a community that values each member. We read recommendations. Many are powerful components of our decisions. They provide insights that cannot be gleaned from transcripts and test scores alone.

Who to Ask? 

groveProspective law students are expected to make contact with and establish relationships with professors and others. Consider faculty members, administrators, internship/program supervisors, coaches, employers, and mentors. You will rely on them to write recommendation letters or prepare evaluations that will land you a place in the professional school of your choice and also for employment, organization memberships, and in life’s opportunities that are important to you.

You do not want to seek out your university’s most prestigious professor or your state senators unless they know you. Readers will recognize the writer’s passion for your future that is not conveyed in a letter that begins “even though I do not know this candidate, he/she is one of my constituents and I recommend them”. Find those who can comment specifically on who you are as a person and prospective law student and lawyer. We know your grandmother and other relatives love you and support you for admission…but no, the required letters/evaluations should be from non-family members.

How to Ask? 

killingerThere are good and bad ways of approaching those you want to help you gain admission, land the job, obtain that prestigious scholarship, or the nomination for that board position or become a member of the bench. Time your request. Don’t ask at the end of class with twenty others present or interrupt activities or make your approach in the parking lot. Be sure to make “the ask” well in advance of the due date. I suggest at least three weeks as a minimum.

Request an appointment, explaining that you’d like to discuss something important to you. Prepare to make the official ask and related explanation during the meeting. Specifically ask the individual if he or she would be able to write a meaningful and positive recommendation or evaluation for you by a certain date. Pay attention to their response including what they say and their demeanor. If you sense reluctance, pause, or hear words doubting they have information or time to do so, thank them and proceed to others on your list. Don’t spend your valuable time fretting over a “no”…that person may have personal problems or work issues that prevent them from saying “yes” even if they could and would write a glowing letter for you.

How to Help the Recommender Help You? 

robertsYou ask recommenders to do a favor – no one has to write recommendations or prepare evaluations for you and no one has more to gain from terrific letters/evaluations than you. Help your referees by providing all the necessary information with an organized presentation. A folder with all documents hand delivered during the meeting or attached to one follow-up email can be very helpful. Don’t assume what they do/don’t know about you. A cover sheet highlighting salient details, your resume, transcript(s), perhaps a copy of the paper you wrote for their class, admission essay, or written statement of career/professional goals on how this next step is relevant/important to you. Do not be modest. Your participation in competitive admission processes is one of the times that self-promotion is entirely appropriate and expected. Of great importance, include clear directions on how the recommendation/evaluation is to be submitted.

You, more than anyone, can influence the contents and effectiveness of the recommendation letters/evaluations. Make sure your references fully understand your goals and the importance placed in your request. Trust me, writing good recommendation letters takes serious thought and time. The more prepared you are when making the request, the easier their task will be and…the more effective the product should be. Make sure to provide your name as identified on your application (fine if they personalize with your nickname as long as official identification is a match with your application as submitted to the school), your telephone number and e-mail address, in case they need further information.

To Waive or Not to Waive Access? 

Many recommendation/evaluation forms (including those submitted though the LSAC’s CAS process) require you (the individual being recommended) to decide whether to waive or retain your rights to see your recommendation/evaluation. Many assume confidential letters tend to carry more weight with admission committees. Many writers prefer their letters be confidential. Do not infer that as negative. For example, the person writing the letter for you may be receiving the same request from your peers and friends and may fear what is written will be shared and compared. The letter writer or evaluator may have superior comments for you and associated reasons for the product not to be circulated for reasons very positive in your favor. Hopefully, you will identify individuals as your recommenders that you have full confidence in supporting you. That said, if you want access to what is submitted, exercise your option by not signing the waiver. FYI: Many individuals may provide you with a copy of their letter or evaluation, even if it is submitted to the school confidentially.

To Follow-Up or Not To Follow-Up? 

As the deadline for your application materials approaches, you need confirmation that your file is complete. William & Mary provides that communication through the on-line status checker and via email. Plan a follow-up with the recommender if the deadline approaches and you do not have confirmation that the recommendation or evaluation has been submitted.

thank youIMPORTANT: Be sure to send a thank you note or email message expressing your sincere appreciation for the support extended to help you progress along your professional school and career goals. This is a thoughtful gesture. This is also smart. You will need another such letter or assistance later from references that help you now. Speaking from over 30 years of experience writing letters and providing references for students, graduates and former employees, I always appreciate hearing the results of the process from the applicant. When I have written letters (now mostly for employment of our students/graduates), I am interested in the outcome and sincerely appreciate the individual sharing the outcome and their related excitement about what’s next in their career and life. I want William & Mary students and graduates to succeed. I want deserving employees to progress. I am delighted to help them and ecstatic in celebrating their successes.

What Next?

Check off this step in the application process. Hopefully, you have reason to proceed with confidence that each recommendation or evaluation submitted for you is exactly what you have earned and another reason to take pride in your hard work and accomplishments.

This is a series written by the admission staff at William & Mary Law School about the admission and application process. The posts in this series will be published in no particular order and are not inclusive. The series is designed  to provide information and advice to our applicants as they apply to law schools!

Meet Our Student Bloggers

The Admission Office is lucky a number of student bloggers, lending their writing talents to us by posting about their law school experiences throughout the year. Four are Graduate Research Fellows in the Admission Office, two are Public Service Admission Ambassadors, and others are active in various student organizations at William & Mary Law School.

Learn more about them below!

Liz Berry- Graduate Research Fellow

lizberryMy name is Liz Berry, and I am a member of the Class of 2016. I grew up in Westfield Center, Ohio and attended Otterbein University in Columbus, OH. My undergraduate degree is in History. At Otterbein, I was active in student government, I was a tour guide, and I served as my sorority’s president. Why am I attending law school? Studying law opens up so many wonderful opportunities. I’m not entirely sure yet what I want to do with my life, but I think that law school will help me to gain the necessary skills to succeed in so many different areas.

———————————————————————————

Graham Bryant- Criminal Law Society Treasurer

bryant

My name is Graham Bryant, and I’m a 1L from South Boston, Virginia. I attended William & Mary as an undergrad, where I earned a BA in English with a history minor. I graduated a year early in 2013 and, partly because I love Williamsburg and eventually want to live here, continued directly into William & Mary Law School. I developed a passion for service as an undergrad, and decided to pursue a law degree because a JD opens so many avenues for making a difference in your community. While I’m not certain exactly which legal field most interests me, the idea of becoming a local prosecutor is appealing.

———————————————————————————

 

Bridget Claycomb- Public Service Admission Ambassador

claycombMy name is Bridget Claycomb, and I am a current 1L. I am from Allyn, WA which is just a ferry ride away from Seattle and the University of Washington where I went to undergrad! (Go Huskies!) I graduated in 2011 and joined Teach for America. I taught K-6 special education for last two years for the Kansas City Public School District. I went into the experience wanting to advocate for children in special education and discovered that I wasn’t happy with how little I could advocate as their teacher. I decided a law degree would provide me with the tools I would need to address injustices that affected my students’ education. William & Mary stood out to me because of the Special Education Advocacy PELE Clinic.

———————————————————————————

Scott Krystiniak- Student Bar Association (SBA) 1L Representative

scottkrystiniakMy name is Scott Krystiniak, and I am from Ann Arbor, Michigan. I am a 2012 graduate of Adrian College (in southeast Michigan) and earned a B.A. in Philosophy and English. While at Adrian, I was a writing tutor and captain of the lacrosse team.I then coached lacrosse for Ann Arbor Public Schools and worked for Recreational Equipment Inc. Attending law school was a logical next step for fostering my interest in ethics while also garnering the unique opportunities a legal education offers. William & Mary Law School was an obvious choice because of the amicable intellectual community and the awesome history in our small, scenic town. While at William & Mary, I hope to learn more about healthcare law, antitrust law, and intellectual property.

———————————————————————————

Phillip Lecky- Black Law Student Association (BLSA) Community Service Committee

phillipleckyMy name is Phillip Lecky. I am a member of the Class of 2015, and my hometown is Woodbridge, VA. I attended the University of Virginia (UVA) where I obtained a B.A. in Economics and a minor in Foreign Affairs. At UVA, I was Evangelism Coordinator for OneWay Christian Fellowship, a peer advisor with the Office of African-American Affairs, and a volunteer with a community organization called Teens Give. I decided to attend law school because I wished to combine my interests in business and economic related affairs with the study of law. In addition, I hoped to leave a perpetual positive impact on those that I came in contact with and the world in general, and a profession in the law provides myriad opportunities for doing that.

———————————————————————————

Lindsay Sfekas- Graduate Research Fellow

lindseysfekas

My name is Lindsay Sfekas and I am a 1L.  I am from Ellicott City, MD, and I graduated from Bucknell University in 2011 with a Bachelor of Arts in English and Psychology. Immediately after college, I worked for a year as a behavioral counselor for kids with autism.  The following year, I worked as a Paralegal for a law firm in Ellicott City. I chose to come to law school because while working with kids with autism, I saw a lot of injustice toward the kids and their families, and I had very limited power to help.  I wanted a career where I could have the power to help give voice to people who could not advocate for themselves.  Law school seemed to fit those goals.

———————————————————————————

Liz Rademacher- Graduate Research Fellow

lizrademacherI’m Liz Rademacher (Class of 2016), and I originally from Newtown, Pennsylvania. I graduated from American University in 2013 with degrees in Law and Society and Psychology. While attending AU, I worked as an intern with several different non-profit organizations and government agencies, including the Human Rights Campaign, the American Bar Association’s Death Penalty Representation Project, and the Department of Homeland Security’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. My interests include constitutional law, civil rights law, and the intersection of gender and the law. My passion for public service has motivated me to pursue a career in law, and attending W&M has only strengthened my commitment to helping others.

———————————————————————————

Jenn Watson- Public Service Admission Ambassador

jennwatson

My name is Jenn Watson, and I am from Long Island, New York. I graduated with a BA in Linguistics from Yale University in 2003. After graduation, I was accepted by the University of Chicago’s Linguistics Department as a potential PhD candidate, but I became less interested in academia and more interested in public service and applied to the New York City Teaching Fellows. As a NYCTF member, I taught 5th grade in New York City for two years while obtaining an MS in Urban Education from Mercy College. After completing that program, I wanted to continue working for the public interest in law and came to William and Mary Law School in 2013 as a Public Service Admissions Ambassador.