Summer Work Experience at Maryland Office of the Attorney General

by Sami Alsawaf, Class of 201alsawaf7

When I first started law school, I was very interested in health care and health insurance. I spent my 1L summer at the National Women’s Law Center in DC, and for my 2L summer, I wanted to see a different side of insurance. This summer I worked at the Maryland Office of the Attorney General in the Insurance Fraud Division.

As luck would have it, it was one of the best job experiences I ever had. I knew going in that trials are nothing like you see on TV, but personally, I found real trials more exciting than what you find on ABC on Thursday night. Trying to follow the prosecutor’s line of questioning to see where he would end up; watching the defense attorney discredit a witness in subtle questions—every move is calculated to achieve a certain result. Every day I learned something new—not just about insurance, but about criminal law, the criminal justice system, and trial tips and strategies. I learned how to think outside the box. What is the best evidence to support a specific element of the crime? How can you show that someone acted negligently, if there was no one around to see the act? Thinking critically and trying to get inside the mind of a jury is essential to winning a case.

In between working and watching trials, I also had the chance to explore downtown Baltimore some. I lived just blocks away from the Inner Harbor, where I would spend my Sunday mornings running along the water front. The city has a culture all to its own, and each neighborhood has a unique vibe. There were plenty of top-notch restaurants and great places to shop. There were always events happening as well—art festivals, concerts, block parties. I am thinking about going back to Baltimore full time, and after my summer, I know it is a great place to live.

I am excited to finish my final year of law school, but I will miss working at the Office of the Attorney General. The people who work in criminal law love what they do, and it shows. The passion and the fire to ensure that justice is served is infectious, and it made me want to work to work to serve justice too. The people in my office were welcoming, instructive, and went out of their way to make sure I had a great experience and learned about criminal justice. Because of the way my office took me under their wing, I am now considering a career in criminal law. Justice—it’s right in the name of the criminal justice system. I have always wanted to work to make sure everyone has a fair chance, and this summer opened my eyes to a way to achieve just that.

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Summer Internship with People Against Suffering Oppression and Poverty

maryby Mary Pickard, Class of 2018

Mary Pickard is a 2L at William & Mary Law School from Detroit, Michigan. Mary graduated from Spelman College majoring in Political Science with a minor in Spanish.  While attending Spelman, Mary interned with the 6th Circuit Court in Oakland County Michigan and served as a Congressional intern for Congressman John Dingell of Michigan.  During her undergraduate studies, Mary served two terms as a member of the Spelman Student Government Association as Secretary of Academic Affairs and President junior and senior year, respectively.  Additionally, Mary was a member of Phi Alpha Delta pre-law society, Pi Sigma Alpha, a Women of Excellence Scholar, and graduated Phi Beta Kappa.  While at William & Mary, Mary has been able to explore her passion for corporate, international, and human rights law.  

Entering law school and quickly beginning the job application process can be an overwhelming experience; however, with the assistance of the Office of Career Services (OCS), searching for an internship became much less daunting.  When I began school, I knew I wanted to work within the international sector, whether domestically or abroad.  I have been interested in international law for several years and understood that in order to work in any international sector, international experience was essential.  I explained these goals to my OCS dean, and she was extremely receptive and helpful with writing cover letters, interview preparation, and informing me about various job opportunities.  As I continued my job search, I was excited to learn about the internship opportunities through Professor Warren’s Center for Comparative Legal Studies and Post-Conflict Peacebuilding, which would afford me the opportunity to work abroad while broadening my legal training.

passopThis summer, I am a legal intern with PASSOP, People Against Suffering Oppression and Poverty, a non-profit organization that works to defend, protect, and ensure the rights of all refugees, asylum seekers, and immigrants in South Africa. The range of services PASSOP offers to its clients is incomparable, and because it is a smaller office, I have been able to gain experience in each legal service we provide.  Although writing appeals for asylum seekers and refugees who have been denied refuge in South Africa is the crux of our work, in the time that I have been in Cape Town, I have participated in settlement negotiations, assisted in drafting contractual agreements, met with the Department of Labour for South Africa, contested appeal decisions from the Department of Home Affairs, and handled a variety of employment and housing discrimination cases on behalf of the government and private employers.  The work at PASSOP is endless and a truly remarkable experience as it allows me to practice the skills from a variety of courses including Legal Practice, Property, and Contracts. Additionally, I am able to study and interpret the South African Constitution, the South African Refugee Act of 1998, and the recent High Court decision affecting the status of current and future refugee permit holders.

Moreover, while in Cape Town I have the chance to meet and bond with other outstanding law students.  My friends and I love exploring Cape Town and discovering all of its beauty.  From the vibrant and welcoming people to the variety of delicious cuisines and natural wonders such as Table and Lion’s Head Mountain, Cape Town has afforded me the opportunity to expand my horizons as a scholar as well as an individual.

Overall, working at PASSOP and in Cape Town has been an enlightening experience, and I am thrilled that I was able to work for an organization that works so diligently and passionately for others. One of the best parts of working with PASSOP has been the level of responsibility I was entrusted with since the attorneys assigned me several ongoing cases in addition to daily appeals from the moment I began.  Ultimately, I felt prepared for the tasks assigned, and I am confident that the instruction at William & Mary assisted heavily in my preparation.


Summer Experience: IP Boutique in DC

kaseyby Kasey Koballa, Class of 2018

Kasey Koballa (Class of 2018) is originally from Wilmington, North Carolina.  She graduated from North Carolina State University with a degree in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.  While attending NCSU, Kasey played on the varsity soccer team and worked as a research assistant in an engineering lab specializing in genetically-engineered microorganisms and biomass derivatives.  Prior to entering law school, she worked as a legal intern for a solo practitioner over the summer.  As a 2L, Kasey will be working on the staff of William & Mary Business Law Review and as a board member of the Student Intellectual Property Society.  Her interests include patent law, trademark law, trade secret law, and copyright law. 

With the help of William & Mary Law School’s Office of Career Services (OCS), after preparing various cover letters and resumes, connecting with alumni, and undergoing mock interviews, I was well prepared when December 1st approached, and I could start applying for 1L summer jobs.   I came into law school with a strong desire to study patent law.  Going into my first law school job search, I had high aspirations of working at a firm in Washington, DC to gain experience in intellectual property law.  Little did I know, OCS would help make this goal very attainable.

This summer, I have been working as a Summer Associate at Rothwell, Figg, Ernst & Manbeck, an intellectual property boutique firm, in Washington, DC.  The firm specializes in various areas of intellectual property law, including patent prosecution and litigation and trademark, trade secret, and copyright law – all of which I have been able to gain experience in this summer.  Working in a boutique allowed me to interact with various associates and partners on a daily basis, which I have thoroughly enjoyed.  There was never anyone around the office that I didn’t recognize.  Further, the smaller environment allowed me to gain hands-on experience in various areas.  I was able to attend a Federal Circuit hearing, attend a deposition, draft responses to office actions, and various legal tasks which I did not expect to be assigned with only having one year of law school under my belt.  On top of enjoying the legal work, as a Summer Associate, I was able to experience the work-life balance that accompanies working in a law firm.

The firm paired each Summer Associate with a Partner Mentor and an Associate Buddy to ease the transition into the program and provide an outlet for any questions that may arise.  In addition to monitoring my workload and bearing great advice, my Associate Buddy scheduled lunches throughout the summer to give me an opportunity to see DC and get to know other attorneys at the firm.  Having spent no more than two days in the city before and coming from a small town, this was very helpful in transitioning into DC life.  Outside of the work environment, the firm hosted various social events during the twelve-week program allowing us Summer Associates to enjoy our time in the city even more.  These events consisted of going bowling and attending a National’s game, a few happy hours, and a wine tasting.

I have gained much more than I anticipated during my work this summer.  Not only have I sharpened my legal writing and analytical skills, but I have also made many connections with attorneys and law students who are passionate about intellectual property law.  The skills I have attained and strengthened this summer will be helpful as I enter my second year of law school, the 2L job search, and my fall externship at William & Mary’s Technology Transfer Office where I plan to further harness my passion for patent law.

Summer Work with DocuSign

Vignaliby Emma Vignali, Class of 2018

Emma Vignali is a rising 2L, originally from historic Old Town Alexandria, Virginia. She graduated from Auburn University (War Eagle!) with degrees in Finance and Psychology. While at Auburn, Emma developed an interest in finance and corporate governance. She spent time in Washington, D.C., interning for Senator Mark R. Warner, who serves on the Senate Committee on Finance. She then went on to intern in the office of the Chief Operating Officer for one of the largest law firms in the world. Now at William & Mary Law School, Emma serves as Secretary for the Women’s Law Society, and is a member of the William & Mary Law Review. She hopes to either practice corporate law or work in-house after graduation.

As the first semester of my 1L year quickly drew to a close, the thought of finding a summer internship weighed heavily on me. When I began law school, I hoped to eventually work in-house at a large company. However, my first semester of law school provided no substantial clarity on my future calling.  Criminal Law with Professor Combs surprisingly sparked an interest that I felt compelled to pursue. How could I be interested in two so drastically different practice areas? While confused about my future, I decided the best way to ease my mind was to spend my 1L summer immersed in one of these areas.

I began my summer internship search by implementing the first piece of advice given in law school: using my already established connections. The 1L internship search tends to be daunting, especially as students realize the number of law students across the country who are all vying for the same positions.  By reaching out to a close family friend, I solidified an interview with in-house counsel in Seattle. I was so excited to receive the position with DocuSign, Inc., as the opportunity to work in-house is a unique experience for a first year law student. I left for Seattle feeling confident that my summer would help me solidify my initial desire to work in-house.

docusignLife does not get much better than it does working in the legal department at DocuSign. On the first day, I was assigned a mentor to lead me through my ten-week journey at the company. My mentor consistently provided direct feedback on my work and became an amazing resource for career advice. It was incredible to have such close contact with a practicing attorney, especially one who truly cared about my progress throughout my internship.

I was also lucky enough to receive an abundance of interesting projects, spanning a number of practice areas and overseen by a range of attorneys. I was tasked with creating a teaching document for the company on open source licensing. Without a tech background, I found myself intimidated by the new terminology and vast amounts of information. However, receiving a project outside of my comfort zone turned into the ultimate learning experience, as I realized the research and writing skills I honed at William & Mary could lead me to be successful at anything I set my mind to. Yet, my favorite project at DocuSign was drafting a lead generation addendum to be attached to an already existing contract. The concepts taught by Professor Oman in my Contracts class became invaluable for my first contract drafting experience. Drafting an addendum from scratch was something I never imagined doing this summer, but resulted in a budding interest for transactional work.

I also found time to fit in a bit of fun in the beautiful state of Washington. DocuSign offers a bi-weekly happy hour for all employees, which became a great opportunity to get to know the attorneys outside of the office. The interns would also often take lunch breaks just a few feet away at the famous Pike Place Market. On weekends, I hiked the surrounding mountains, flew on sea planes, and even went whale watching!

As nervous as I was just a few months ago, I leave Seattle feeling sure of my goals for the future. The scenic landscape of Washington and the state’s wonderfully generous and friendly people have truly impacted me. I can now say with certainty that I plan to take the bar in Washington after graduation.  But even more relieving is the clarity I have gained on my future area of practice; I plan to pursue corporate transactional law after graduation. My internship at DocuSign allowed me to explore a field I had not previously considered, even if just briefly, and I am excited to potentially incorporate transactional work into my practice after graduation. However, that does not mean I have to dismiss my growing interest in criminal law. My hope is to eventually work at a firm where I can incorporate areas of criminal practice into my pro bono work. My summer experience in Seattle has been fun, enlightening, and completely invaluable. I am excited to return to William & Mary for my second year, where I can put the skills I learned this summer into practice.

Networking and Summer Work After 1L Year

robert jonesby Robbie Jones, Class of 2018

My name is Robbie Jones, and I am a rising 2L. I am from DeLand, Florida (just outside Orlando).  Before coming to William & Mary, I attended Stetson University in Florida where I received my B.A. in Political Science in 2014.  While an undergrad, I worked for my local Congressman and interned with a state circuit court judge. I came to William & Mary because I felt the strong sense of community when I visited the school.  At William & Mary, I am on Law Review and the Moot Court team.  I am also an Academic Success Program TA.  Some of my favorite non-law school activities are sports, traveling, and spending time with friends and family.

The summer job search can be an exciting, yet daunting activity for a 1L.  After all, I had just barely figured out how to adequately prepare for classes, and it was time for me to start thinking about what I wanted to do during the summer.  Of course, the Office of Career Services (OCS) was giving us all the help and advice we needed, but it was still a big decision to think about.  I knew I wanted to try to work for a federal judge if possible, so I figured the best place to start would be looking for William & Mary alumni who were judges.  Fortunately, I found Judge Gregory Presnell, a United States District Judge, located in Orlando who is also an undergrad alum from William & Mary.   I reached out to the judge, interviewed during winter break and was hired before I headed back for school!

The lesson I learned through all of this is the importance of just reaching out to people already in the profession.  When I reached out to Judge Presnell, he agreed to meet with me without knowing my grades, involvement at school, or really anything.  I saw firsthand the greatness of the W&M alumni network.  As important as credentials are, I’ve learned that this is a profession where connections matter.  All it took was sending an email to a federal judge (and the W&M connection!) to realize my summer job goal.

Now that I’m working, I have learned so much.  Judge Presnell gives me hands-on experience and treats me just like one of his law clerks. I have written court orders, given my input on pending issues, and observed almost every type of court proceeding in existence.  Judge Presnell will definitely be a mentor of mine long after my internship is finished.   Having a first-year summer job in a place that allows you to see the practical side of the legal profession is a priceless experience. I am so thankful to William & Mary for providing me with such great opportunities thus far!

Douglas E. Brown ’71, J.D. ’74: Actively Engaged in Helping the Next Generation

Brown_475x265Blog post reproduced with permission of the Communications Office

A loyal and proud alumnus, Doug Brown spends significant time in retirement actively involved with the William & Mary community. Like many alums, Brown feels grateful and happy to give his time and resources to the alma mater that gave him so much.

A scroll through Brown’s LinkedIn profile reveals a successful career and an impressive list of volunteer appointments, most of which are with William & Mary.

“I owe a lot to William & Mary and I want to give back,” says Brown. “Having the College on my resumé made a huge difference in my career.”

Originally from Marion, Indiana, Brown received his bachelor’s degree in sociology from William & Mary in 1971.

“I grew up in the Midwest and I wanted to broaden my horizons,” he says. “William & Mary was the best choice. I liked the campus, the academic programs, and, of course, the basketball scholarship the College offered me.”

After Brown graduated, he immediately continued his studies at the Law School, where he also received a scholarship and was a member of the William & Mary Law Review and Phi Alpha Delta.

“I knew I wanted to be a lawyer and I was already in the academic routine,” says Brown. “I applied to another law school but I chose William & Mary Law and never regretted it.”

After graduation, he worked for Shanley & Fisher, a large insurance defense firm in New Jersey, where he handled medical malpractice and product liability insurance defense litigation. In 1977, Brown began his nearly 33-year career with the General Motors Legal Staff in Detroit.

“Being a corporate lawyer fit me quite nicely,” he says. “But if you had told me when I started at W&M Law about the wide variety of matters I would handle as a corporate lawyer, I would have had trouble believing it.”

During his GM career, Brown managed product litigation cases, certain regulatory matters, and also negotiated and drafted product responsibility agreements with several of GM’s international business partners. He also traveled world-wide, and spoke about U.S. product liability litigation to numerous GM business units, and also companies doing business with GM, in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, South Korea, and Sweden.

“I started my volunteer work before I retired because I wanted to stay busy,” he recalls. “William & Mary has meant so much to me that it was an obvious choice when I wanted to give back.”

Brown was recently elected Vice President of the Law School Foundation, following a term as Secretary/Treasurer. He chairs the Foundation’s Development Committee and is a member of the Law School’s Campaign Steering Committee. He also has been active in the Law School’s Alumni Ambassador and Co- Counsel Mentoring programs, and has co-chaired several of his Law School and undergraduate reunion gift committees. Brown served seven years on William & Mary’s Annual Giving Board of Directors, chaired the Board for two years, and is a Class Ambassador for his undergraduate class.

“I love being part of the William & Mary community and working as a liaison for William & Mary in Michigan,” says Brown, who has served as the College’s Alumni Admissions Network representative for southeastern Michigan. “Today’s students are exceptionally smart and well-qualified.”

Brown believes that having William & Mary on his resumé twice, for undergraduate and law degrees, has been enormously valuable in his career.

“There is tremendous name recognition and prestige that comes with the William & Mary name, especially in the Midwest,” he says. “I’m very thankful for the scholarships and other opportunities William & Mary gave me.”

A generous contributor to the College and Law School, Brown took his support to another level by establishing The Douglas E. and Escha J. Brown Law Scholarship Endowment.

“The scholarship is available to any student with financial need who maintains good academic standing,” says Brown. “I wanted to keep the requirements as flexible as possible.” The scholarship was fully funded in 2014.

“This past fall I had the pleasure of meeting Ethan Smith (’18), the first recipient of the scholarship,” he says. “Attending William & Mary on a scholarship changed my life and I look forward to doing the same for others.”

Making Things Happen, Getting Things Done — 4th Annual Leadership Conference

hopkinsby Kristin Hopkins, Class of 2018

This past March, William & Mary Law School hosted the 4th Annual Leadership Conference. This year’s theme was “Making Things Happen, Getting Things Done,” and over 40 of our most distinguished alumnae shared their stories and advice to law students and professors. As a student shadow, I had the opportunity to host an alumna throughout the day, attend different  sessions, and attend a lunch with all the presenters.

My favorite session, Closing A Big Deal, featured female lawyers from Washington, D.C., New York City, and Delaware. They spoke most what it meant to them to “close a big deal.” Their responses ranged anywhere from getting exactly what their client wanted to just finishing a case they had been working on for months! This was also my favorite session because, as corporate women, they also talked a lot about their family life and how you don’t have to choose between your career and raising your children. As a budding female attorney, this was very assuring as I plan to enter the legal field.

leadershipconference_03Throughout the day, I had the opportunity to speak with many alumnae who are working, or have worked, in the particular legal field I am interested in, and I even set up some meetings with them during the summer!

All in all, the Leadership Conference was an excellent day, not just for the networking opportunities, but to gain inspiration and advice from lawyers who were in my position not too long ago. I highly encourage all William & Mary Law students to take advantage of the conference next year!

Read the news story here.

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.

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Citizen Lawyer 2.0 Seminar

newtonby Dakota Newton, Class of 2018

Law school is mostly about books. There are books of cases, books of regulations, books of statutes, and books that you should have finished reading already. But being a lawyer is about more than just knowing what is in those books. It is about building relationships of trust with colleagues and clients and having the professional skills to cultivate those relationships. Fortunately, William & Mary Law recognizes this and strives to help law students develop the professional skills necessary to become the best lawyers possible.

On February 27th, I had the chance to attend W&M Law’s Citizen Lawyer 2.0 Seminar. Subtitled “the professional success initiative”, the purpose of the seminar was to help law students be better lawyers through enhanced communication skills, a growth mindset, and adaptability to evolving industry conditions. To that end, the school invited several high-end speakers from New York and Washington, D.C. firms to come and teach us the secrets to succeeding in the legal industry. I would like to share some highlights from my two favorite presentations.

Jay Sullivan, the managing partner of professional communications firm Exec|Comm, shared a number of ways in which law students can improve their communication skills. The first tip is to always focus on the client. There is a fine balance between being the legal hero who solves the client’s needs and being the person that they can trust and share those needs with. Remembering to orient yourself properly with a “what can I do to help you?” attitude enables lawyers to maintain that balance. When we focus on the client, rather than our own expertise, the ego stays under control and our clients feel heard and important. The next tip is to know your strengths and weaknesses as a communicator. Recognizing what you naturally excel at and what needs work creates a platform from which you can set goals and make plans to put yourself into situations which will improve your weaknesses. You will never be able to learn the things that “you don’t know you don’t know”, so start now, be honest, and put yourself in situations which stretch your capabilities.

Milana Hogan from Sullivan & Cromwell LLP taught us about the importance of grit and a growth mindset. We have all heard about the power of positive thinking before, but this was fresh. Instead of simply telling us that attitude is altitude, Milana presented evidence from research that she has conducted which found a statistically significant correlation between leadership capacity and the belief that a person can improve their intelligence and talent over time. In fact, belief in the ability to grow mentally is the most reliable indicator of success for lawyers. Not LSAT scores, not GPA, and not internships. So the next time you see a poster telling you to believe in yourself, take it seriously! It just might be what gets you into your dream job one day.

To sum it up, remember to put the client first, and never stop stretching yourself or believing that you can achieve the professional success that you dream of.

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Interviews galore at the Government & Public Interest Interview Program

borkby Emily Bork, Class of 2018

Interview season is officially under way for the 1L class! Freshly geared with helpful feedback from our mock interviews with W&M alumni last month, my fellow 1Ls and I have been busy with applying and meeting with potential employers for prospective summer internships that are now just a few short months away.

Our interview skills were put to the test at the Government & Public Interest Interview Program, also known as GPIIP, at the University of Richmond. This is one of the largest interview programs for law students in the area who hope to work for public interest agencies this summer. Dozens of employers from public defenders to local city and county attorneys’ offices to legal aid service organizations interviewed with applicants. GPIIP was truly a full day of interviewing, speed-dating style, at its finest! Law students from William & Mary, the University of Richmond, and Washington & Lee, gathered at a large conference center on the University of Richmond’s campus ready and energized to secure an internship for the summer.

Although there was some nervous chatter in the lobby before students went in to the conference center to meet with their designated potential employers for their interviews, it was very exciting to see and hear from fellow law students in the Virginia area. I was encouraged by the large number of students who, like myself, hope to be involved with public interest work this summer.

Lauren and I after a great morning full of interviews!

Lauren and I after a great morning full of interviews!

I went to GPIIP with my friend, Lauren, who thankfully offered to drive (I am the first to admit that my driving skills are not the greatest!). I was more than happy to serve as the navigator as we made our way to Richmond. Although we had to get up pretty earlier in the morning as my first interview was at 9am, it was great to take the short, hour or so ride to Richmond. After our interviews were wrapped up by about noon, we decided to celebrate and grab lunch at a café to re-charge and relax. From our lunch de-briefing, it seemed like we both remembered all that our Office of Career Services had taught us and had pretty successful interviews!

We got back on the road (but not before grabbing a quick cup of coffee) and headed home to Williamsburg. Not only was GPIIP personally rewarding and a meaningful interview experience, but it was a great opportunity to explore Richmond for the day and see another part of Virginia. All in all, it was an awesome way to spend a Friday!

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Mark Epley- General Counsel to Paul Ryan

newtonby Dakota Newton, Class of 2018

Williamsburg may be a small town, but William & Mary Law has no difficulty attracting excellent guest speakers. This is one of my favorite aspects of law school and on Thursday, January 28th, we had the privilege of hearing from Mr. Mark Epley.

Mr. Epley currently works on the Hill as the General Counsel to Mr. Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House. He handles a wide variety of tasks for the Speaker and his daily agenda includes tasks such as briefing the Speaker on current legal issues, organizing strategy meetings, and negotiating with the staff of other Representatives to build support for proposed legislation. A busy schedule to be sure, but an immensely rewarding one as Mr. Epley gets to experience the political process at the highest level. As you can imagine, Mr. Epley worked very hard during his career to get to where he is now and he was kind enough to share some advice on achieving success. I would like to pass along two pieces of that advice.

Mark-EpleyThe first piece of advice was to stay properly oriented. Lawyers often lead a privileged lifestyle, but we exist to serve the needs of our clients. When Mr. Epley was being sworn in as a new lawyer after passing the bar exam a Justice from the Virginia Supreme Court told him that the law was a unique profession because lawyers carry the burdens of their clients. Our job is to help in times of need. So long as you can remember to orient yourself towards the client then you will develop relationships of trust and achieve true success as a lawyer.

The second piece of advice was to always remain a student. We spend three years in law school, but it takes a lifetime to obtain a legal education. It will be tempting to turn off after graduation and focus on just gaining practical experience in our chosen practice field, but that is a waste of an opportunity. Mr. Epley related a story about one of his first jobs in private practice where he had a supervising partner who was an expert in legal ethics. Even though the cases they worked together did not deal with legal ethics, Mr. Epley took the opportunity to learn what he could about that subject. That knowledge came in handy later when he found a very desirable job with a federal agency that listed knowledge of legal ethics as a requirement. If Mr. Epley had not remained a student after law school then he would never had gotten that job and would not be in the job he is in today. So always remain a student, you never know when the knowledge you pick up will come in handy.

So stay oriented and never stop learning. Success is there for the taking so long as you are willing to do the necessary work!

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