She Came, She Saw, She Came Back, and She Keeps Coming Back

by Faye Shealy

Twenty-three years ago Cressondra Conyers stopped by William & Mary Law School for an application. She was an eighth grade English teacher in Williamsburg at the time. She returned for the Black Law Students Association Law Day and quickly knew William & Mary Law School was the place she should be for the next three important years. She received her J.D. from William & Mary Law School in 1992. For the next  eleven years she was a Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney in Newport News where she prosecuted all types of cases, specializing in child physical and sexual abuse cases. In 2003, she became the Chief Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney for the City of Williamsburg and the County of James City. In May 2012, Ms. Conyers was appointed Judge of the Juvenile & Domestic Relations Court in the Ninth Judicial Circuit of Virginia.

Judge Conyers is actively involved in teaching various aspects of law and does so as an Adjunct Professor here at the Law School. She serves on the faculty of the National District Attorney’s Association National Advocacy Center. She is a frequent lecturer for the Department of Criminal Justice Services and serves as an instructor for Child First. She also gives interviewing skills training to prosecutors, social workers, and law enforcement officers across the state. In May of 2010, Judge Conyers was honored as one of Virginia Lawyers Media “Influential Women of Virginia,” which recognized women who have made notable contributions to their chosen professions. She is active in her community and has served on a number of boards including the Historic Triangle Substance Abuse Coalition and the Williamsburg Community Health Foundation.

Judge Conyers retuned to the Law School on Saturday, November 10, as the Keynote Speaker for the BLSA 25th Annual Law Day as she has done previously. She keeps on coming and keeps inspiring the next generation of law students.

Judge Conyers speaks at BLSA Law Day.

Law Alumni Help Students Chart Their Career Paths

by Elizabeth Cavallari

Alumni play an important role at William & Mary Law School.  They are resources about law school life for admitted students, they serve as a contact for 1L students through the Co-Counsel Program, and they are a tremendous asset to our students during the job search process.  There are over 7,000 William & Mary Law School alumni that live and work in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and 39 other countries.  Most feel strong connections to the law school and want to help students in similar ways that they were helped by other alumni during their time in law school.

Read many stories of how law alumni are helping students chart their career paths.

An Education in Client-Centered Law Practice

by Elizabeth Cavallari

Here at William & Mary, we pride ourselves on teaching our students practical aspects of a legal education. Recently, one of our 1995 graduates, John Crouch, wrote a reflection piece in the Virginia State Bar Magazine that emphasized his experience at William & Mary Law School.

John Crouch JD'95He says, “Attending William & Mary Law School was, of course, an exciting, formative time. I had gone to an Ivy League college, studying many things that weren’t directly relevant to everyday life, with people who I would not be dealing with in the future. But starting with Legal Skills “boot camp” in the first week, we all started learning how to use our college educations to study real people and their problems and the tools that the law offers to solve those problems.

I was in the company of a critical mass of future lawyers who largely would be practicing in the same circles I would probably be in — Virginia and the D.C. area — so we were acutely aware that we were already building our lifelong reputations for integrity, collegiality, creativity and practical intelligence, or lack thereof. Collegiality was a very real, warm, fraternal feeling and practice, not just a slogan — we knew that the achievements of each student and alumnus helped improve the reputation of our Law School as a whole, and thus increased the prestige and pride that each of us would draw from our William & Mary law degree. Knowing first-hand how hard everyone had to work for that degree, I can’t help having some respect and empathy for anyone else who has one.”

Crouch is a partner at Crouch & Crouch, PLLC in Arlington, Virginia, and the assistant editor of the Virginia State Bar’s Family Law News. He is a Fellow of the International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and past chair of the Northern Virginia Collaborative Professionals, the Arlington County Bar Association Family Law Section, the American Bar Association Child Custody Committee, and the American Bar Association Child Representation Standards Committee. Crouch serves on the Advisory Group of Smart Marriages: The Coalition for Marriage, Family and Couples Education.

Read his article entitled “An Education in Client-Centered Law Practice,” which was featured in the February edition of the Virginia State Bar Magazine.

Something Old Has Someone New

by Faye Shealy

President Taylor Reveley announced today that former United States Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates (’65) has agreed to serve as the 24th Chancellor of the College of William & Mary.  President Reveley stated that “Secretary Gates is the first alumnus to serve as Cancellor in the modern era.  He is also one of the most distinguished Americans of our time and a stalwart member of the William & Mary family.  Bob Gates has been an exemplar of selfless service to his country and lifelong commitment to his alma mater.  As Chancellor, he will succeed another magnificent American who is also a cherished member of our community.  Retired U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor will complete her term as the Chancellor of William & Mary at Charter Day 2012.”  Gates, who is the first defense secretary in United States history to serve under presidents from both political parties, led the defense department before retiring earlier this summer.  President Barack Obama expressed his gratitude to and confidence in Secretary Gates this morning.

Welcome Chancellor Gates!  We love it when our alumni return home and are happy with your new role at the College!

Judge Smith to Speak at Convocation

by Faye Shealy

Judge Smith

The new academic year has begun.  Opening Convocation, held Friday, August 26, is a signature event in the academic life of the College with the purpose of setting forth a vision for the year ahead and welcoming the newest students to the William & Mary community.  All members of the College are invited to celebrate the opening of William & Mary’s 318th year and, as dictated by tradition, be welcomed by the ringing of the Wren Chapel Bell.

This year’s keynote speaker is the Honorable Rebecca Beach Smith (B.A. ’71, J.D. ’79).  Judge Smith was appointed as a United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Virginia in 1989 by President George H.W. Bush.  Prior to joining the bench, Judge Smith worked in civil litigation with Wilcox & Savage, P.C. in Norfolk.  William & Mary students and alumni are known as “sons and daughters of the College,” and we are particularly proud of this member of the family and grateful that she will be inspiring future generations of sons and daughters on Friday.

W&M Leaders & Lawmakers

by Guest Blogger Laura Jacobson


Laura Jacobson, 3L

On February 11th , the 3Ls at William & Mary Law School celebrated the wrapping up of our time here at the annual Hundred Nights party, an event hosted by the Alumni Department to mark our hundred nights left of law school. We spent the evening laughing and catching up, enjoying the complimentary appetizers and drinks (one thing I will definitely miss about law school!), as a photo slideshow looped in the background commemorating the times we spent outside the library in our three years here.

Momentarily content in all the festivities, I considered Dean Douglas’s words from earlier in the evening. He commented on what our class has accomplished in the last two and a half years. He kept it short, to not interrupt the DJ for too long, but there was a lot he could have said. In keeping with tradition, our National Trial and Moot Court teams have had a string of victories this year. One of the most notable successes belongs to a three-person W&M Moot Court team which won the International Criminal Court Moot Court Competition held at Pace Law School. This win sends the team to The Hague to compete in the final round of the worldwide competition, the finals of which will be held in the International Criminal Court courtroom with actual ICC judges presiding.

The Moot Court team success is only one example of what I’ve seen of the commitment to excellence espoused by my classes and the two below ours. Every week it seems the student body is receiving e-mails from the Dean congratulating one or another of our competitive teams on a recent success. And this competence is not limited only to teams who compete. Our school’s chapter of the Black Law Students Association, recently recognized as the Mid-Atlantic Regional Chapter of the Year, is evidence that W&M law students are leaders in service as well.

Eric Cantor, J.D. '88

Eric Cantor, J.D. ’88

When I think about the legacy my classmates and I are walking in, I realize these traits of our class shouldn’t be surprising. At W&M’s Charter Day on February 4, the College honored a law school grad who celebrated his Hundred Nights more than several years back. Rep. Eric Cantor, J.D. ‘88, was recognized that day for his leadership in legislative service, and surely his path to House majority leader today was nurtured by W&M Law School’s focus on striving toward the citizen-lawyer ideal. Other more recent W&M law graduates have taken a similar course. Lincoln Willis, J.D. ’06, recently began service in the Delaware House of Representatives, and Matt Gaetz, J.D. ’07, was elected to the Florida House of Representatives in April 2010.

On the Monday after the Hundred Nights celebration, it’s back to work as usual; after all, there is much to accomplish in the next 90-plus days. As my classmates and I put the finishing touches on our W&M Law School experience, competing in final tournaments, preparing last journal articles for publication, and organizing a few more service projects, the road ahead is both daunting and thrilling. The Class of 2011 has a lot to live up to, but we’re daily showing that we are up to the challenge.

Matchmaker, Matchmaker

by Faye Shealy

I have blogged for Valentine’s Day in the past and here it comes again.  I keep enjoying the fun and loving stories of how our students meet and develop friendships.  In many cases they find their life’s mate while learning the law.  I remember fondly two late summer admits who are now Mr. and Mrs. Edward Nickel.  Here is their William & Mary Law School admission story.

the nickels

“Nora and I met our first year of law school, but did not begin dating until our second year. During our courtship phase, we spoke about our bumpy paths to William & Mary Law School. I told Nora that Dean Shealy called me as I crossed into South Carolina, traveling to Miami for law school, and offered me admission off the wait list. I told Nora how I immediately turned around and drove to Williamsburg to accept. Nora screamed, “You’re the Florida guy?!?” Nora then told me how she had moved into her apartment in Northern Virginia and was ready to start classes up there when she was contacted by the Law School and offered admission off the wait list. Nora stated that she was unsure about the move, but was inspired by the story Dean Shealy told her about a student who turned around on the highway on the way to Florida and accepted admission the day before. As it turns out, fate truly brought us together at William & Mary! Coming to W&M Law School is one of the best decisions we ever made.  We found each other, made lifelong friendships and received an incredible education.  Who knew fate could be so sweet?”

Virginia is for Lovers (and Lawyers!): Part I

by Faye Shealy

William & Mary Law attracts all kinds of students from many different backgrounds, geographic regions, educational experiences and more. Students are encouraged to take time to get to know their peers inside and outside of the classroom. Many of your fellow students will be working with you in the future…maybe even as opposing counsel!  The networks you create here, the bonds you cement, the friendships you foster ­ – all of these are integral parts of your total William & Mary experience.

One of the little known fun facts in the William & Mary Admission Office is our role as matchmakers. Some students decide to become partners ­ for life!  We take pleasure in introducing the following…

alumni couple

Theo and Melissa Lu (’05)

alumni couple

William Lamberth (’04) and Lauren Lamberth (’05)

alumni couple

Owen Wilson (’91) and Angela Bishop Wilson (’90)

alumni couple

Judge Clark and Kit Daugherty (’85)

Stay tuned for our post next week in which Dean Thurston talks about finding love in Williamsburg (with wedding pictures to boot)!

Happy Valentine’s Day!