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!



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


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


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


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.

See William & Mary on the Road!

by Elizabeth Cavallari

forum-bannerFall recruitment season is upon us, and the admission staff is ready to hit the road. Deans Shealy and Shabsin join me in our excitement to meet potential applicants all over the county.

LSAC Forums and Forum Workshops are great opportunities to gain a tremendous amount of information about the law school application process, the legal profession, and individual law schools. Find us at the following locations:

Dean Shealy in Miami                   September 2

Dean Shealy in Houston               October 12

Dean Shealy in New York             October 18 & 19

Dean Cavallari in Boston              October 21

Dean Cavallari in Los Angeles      October 26

Dean Shabsin in Atlanta                November 2

William & Mary will also be represented at many other Law Fairs and Graduate & Professional School Programs on college campuses throughout the country. We are looking forward to seeing you soon and talking with you about William & Mary Law School!

What Makes an Application Stand Out?

by Elizabeth Cavallari

“What makes an application stand out?”  We hear this question a lot from prospective law students, and there are a lot of components to the answer.  At William & Mary there is no magic formula or benchmark that we expect all applicants to reach: we do a full-file review of all elements of your application (GPA, LSAT, work experience and extracurricular activities, letters of recommendation, and personal statement) so we can fully evaluate you as a candidate for admission.  Having said that, there are some traits that really mark potential applicants as people who will become successful law students and lawyers, and the way that these traits show up in applications can really vary!

Oral Communication

The ability to articulate yourself well and persuasively make your case will be important to your success as a student and as a practitioner after graduation.  How can you showcase your oral communication abilities in your application?  A number of activities, including participation in Mock Trial, leadership roles in campus organizations or Greek Life, employment projects, collegiate or recreational sports, and countless others can demonstrate your ability to be a persuasive speaker.  Additionally, oral communication is as much about speaking as it is listening.  Working with clients and co-workers requires listening critically, taking key information from conversations, and utilizing what you have learned.  Think about the experiences that have developed and honed those skills, and make sure that we see evidence of that in your application.

Written Communication

App processIt shouldn’t be a surprise that lawyers and law students have to write often and write well, so we expect a high level of writing proficency from our candidates:even though legal writing may seem a bit like a foreign language during your first weeks of law school, you still should have a strong foundation from which to build.  Prospective students still in school should take courses that develop your objective and persuasive writing.  Utilize your school’s writing center and other resources at your disposal.  For those in the work force, embrace opportunities to write in your job (beyond writing another quick email); volunteer for projects that require heavy writing and will stretch and challenge you.


Knowing how to utilize case law, statutes, administrative regulations, and other sources of binding and persuasive authority is instrumental in the legal profession.  What research experience do you have?  Your research background does not necessarily have to include research with a faculty member (particularly if you’re not passionate about the topic or subject).  Did a class spark an interest that led to an independent study or thesis?  Have you been driven to learn more about a topic than you learned in a lecture?  Have you started a new project at work that required you to critically examine previous efforts?  Make sure your application reflects the research you have done and indicates your ability to successfully transition those skills into the arena of legal research.

While we try to discern these three skills, this doesn’t mean that we ONLY look at those abilities while reviewing your application.  Make sure to highlight your abilities in oral communication, written communication, and research, but remember that these skills constitute just one piece of the puzzle.  William & Mary Law School would be boring if all of our students were cookie cutter!  We take shaping a diverse and interesting class seriously, and we want to get to know you through your application and see how you can help make it even better!

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!

Reprinted from 

Let’s Get Personal

by Faye Shealy

This is the first post in a series about the admission process. Stay tuned to read more about the W&M Law admission office’s thoughts on different parts of the process.

Although most application deadlines are still months away, the extraordinarily-organized among you have likely begun to craft personal statements. Our office fields a multitude of inquiries pertaining to the personal statement, so I thought I’d take a moment to address some of the most commonly-asked questions.

What should I write about?

Personal StatementYou! You! You! We will read your GPA and LSAT scores on the LSAC report; the personal statement is your chance to attach a personality to those numbers. We are looking to enroll a dynamic class of people with diverse backgrounds and perspectives. Everyone has a story, and we want to hear yours. Find a way to tell us who you are and what you care about. Convince us that you have something to add to our community. There is no single “right” way of constructing the personal statement. We leave you with an enormous amount of liberty to show us who you are (but do remember that you’re applying to a professional school).

Keep in mind that your extra-curricular and community activities and recommendations will be important parts of your application materials. Your personal statement should supplement – rather than repeat – your credentials. If you want to change the world, tell us why and how. If you want to write about a past experience, explain to us how it affected you. If you want to write about an issue of national or international importance, show us why you are so intrigued. Read your statement aloud before submitting it. Ask yourself if it’s sincere. Ask yourself if it’s you.  We read personal statements submitted with all applications, and we can easily separate essays with a clear voice from essays that are clearly canned.

How heavily do you weigh the personal statement in relation to the rest of the application?

We conduct a comprehensive review of your application and every aspect of the application is important. William & Mary is a small school. When we mail acceptance letters, we are not merely building a class. We are building a community. We pride ourselves on producing Citizen Lawyers and keep that mission in mind as we select each class.

Can a strong personal statement compensate for low numbers?

Yes.  Again, we review your application as a whole. Although your academic record and LSAT score are very important factors, each applicant should invest the time and thought necessary to produce essays that impress us.  If your numbers aren’t stellar, the personal statement is your chance to blow us away.

What is the proper length for a personal statement?

As long as it needs to be…and no longer.  We read thousands of personal statements each admission cycle. Your personal statement should be gripping – especially if you choose to write a long piece.

What about the optional essays?

If you have a genuine and specific interest in one of our programs, tell us! We want people who want to come to William & Mary, and we want to know what’s attracting applicants. You can also use an optional essay to tell us about an event in your life of which you are especially proud and couldn’t include in your personal statement.

 Is content more important than style?

No. Both content and style are very important. Most lawyers spend most of their days writing. Above all, the personal statement is a writing sample. It demonstrates your critical thinking skills and your capacity for creativity. It demonstrates your ability to organize information cogently and convincingly. The statement demonstrates your attention to detail. Finally, it gives us a glimpse into your character. All these qualities are important to the successful and ethical practice of law.

Any other advice?

Think and then write.  Set it aside for a day or two.  Return for a review prior to submission.  Note that spell checks do not match the name of a law school with your application submission…though we often do enjoy reading why an applicant really wants to go to Yale Law School or has always wanted to study in Boston.

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!