1L Summer Work- DOJ in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Homicide Division

maherby Alex Maher, Class of 2019

Alex Maher is a current 2L from New Jersey. She is a member of the Moot Court Team, Environmental Law and Policy Review, a Themis representative, and Events Chair of the Women’s Law Society.

During my 1L summer I worked at the Department of Justice in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Homicide Division. I could not have imagined a better place to gain real insight into the legal field among true professionals. The attorneys in the homicide division are warriors, and they were so eager and willing to let me learn from them.

By week three I had already been handed research assignments, given a motion to draft on my own, allowed to sit in on witness interviews, asked to organize evidence for trial, observed three murder trials in part, and spent hours weeding through jail calls, testimony, and police interviews. In the weeks, following I attended two murder trials from start to finish, accompanied homicide detectives on a ride-along, visited the Baltimore Medical Examiner’s office, and visited a crime scene. In addition, the U.S. Attorney’s Office had a variety of programs for their summer interns that made the summer a lot of fun. We toured the Capital and the Library of Congress, had lunch with the U.S. Attorney, and attended a Q&A with the Attorney General.

I cannot recommend the Homicide Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office enough to anyone who, like myself, is interested in litigation and really sees themselves practicing in a courtroom. These attorneys are in court just about every week, constantly preparing for a hearing, motion, or trial. There was never a dull moment. And while working in homicide was a sobering experience at times, there was real fulfillment in knowing I was helping the victim’s loved ones find justice.

Externships- Solo Practitioner and Federal Magistrate Judge

alisonby Alison Schoettler, Class of 2018

My name is Alison Schoettler, and I am a rising 3L from Silver Spring, MD. I graduated from the College of William & Mary in 2011 with a B.A. in Sociology, and I spent four years working in the Washington, DC area after college. After working for a few years, I decided to go to law school. William & Mary was the natural choice for me, and I’ve enjoyed being back in Williamsburg. At the Law School, I am a Legal Practice Fellow and on the Executive Board of Law Review. I returned to Washington, DC for both summers, spending my 1L summer working for a federal agency and my 2L summer working for a law firm.

When I graduated from college, I knew I wanted to go to graduate school, but I was not quite sure what type of degree I wanted to pursue. After working for a few years, I realized I wanted to pursue a law degree, so I began exploring various law school programs. Because my decision to return to law school was driven in large part by my work experience after college, I knew I wanted to continue to explore the legal profession through externships during the school year. So, during my law school search, I looked for a school where I would be able to get not only classroom experience during the school year, but I would also get real-world experience. I was thrilled when I discovered William & Mary encouraged their students to enroll in externships during the semester and gain the type of experience I was looking for.

I enrolled for an externship the first semester I could, during fall of my 2L year. I spent the semester working for a small practitioner in the Williamsburg area. I enjoyed the experience so much; as a result, I decided to extern in my spring semester as well. I spent my spring working for a federal magistrate judge in Richmond. Both experiences exposed me to areas of law I had not yet had the opportunity to work in, and it provided me with the opportunity to grow my legal skills in a real-world environment. I consider these experiences among my favorite and most valuable in law school so far. I am so happy that William & Mary’s academic program enabled me to take advantage of these opportunities, and I highly encourage anyone who is considering externing to do so.

Externship with OneVirginia2021

williamsby Benjamin Williams, Class of 2018

My name is Ben Williams and I am a rising 3L from Hurricane, West Virginia. I attended Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana where I double-majored in International Relations and History with a minor in Latin American Studies. During the summer between my Sophomore and Junior years I worked as an intern in the United States Senate and House in Washington, D.C.  The following summer, I ran the summer internship program for Senator Jay Rockefeller. At William & Mary Law School, I am a Notes Editor on the Bill of Rights Journal, an executive board member of the Public Service Fund, and am a Co-Director of Constitutional Conversations, a public lecture series where law students affiliated with William & Mary’s Institute for Bill of Rights Law lead a discussion on a different topic in constitutional law. Outside of law school, I enjoy skiing, hiking, and traveling.

One of the great things about William & Mary is its proximity to both the Richmond and Hampton Roads metropolitan areas and their abundant externship opportunities. Taking advantage of this, I had an externship with OneVirginia2021 for the Fall 2016 and Spring 2017 semesters. OneVirginia2021 is a nonprofit organization which advocates for redistricting reform in Virginia. While I didn’t know much about Election Law prior to coming to William & Mary, I quickly found that the field lies at the intersection of two of my favorite things: law and politics.

onevirginiaOneVirginia2021 was founded in 2014 by a group of motivated citizens who were tired of the impacts of gerrymandering on the political process. Unlike most other organizations, OneVirginia2021 is transpartisan and maintains many supporters in both major parties, at the grassroots level and in the General Assembly in Richmond. They pursue three primary methods of advocacy: direct lobbying of the legislature through their 501(c)(4), legal advocacy through their legal team, and public education and awareness building through their 501(c)(3).

My externship was with OneVirginia2021’s 501(c)(3) and the legal team. During the fall, my work primarily focused on developing tools for the organization’s poll volunteers, who initiated conversations with voters on Election Day to raise awareness of the impact gerrymandering has on electoral competitiveness. I also helped to edit the organization’s amicus brief filed on behalf of petitioners in the Bethune-Hill racial gerrymandering case. During the spring, I helped with OneVirginia’s anti-gerrymandering lawsuit against Senate Democrats and House Republicans. I also helped draft summaries of individual legislators’ positions on gerrymandering, for distribution in their districts so voters will be better-informed when they go to the polls this November. My work helped to solidify my desire to work in Election Law post-graduation, and helped me make valuable connections that have already helped me begin down that path.

Externship- Supreme Court of Virginia in Richmond

meltonby Kameron Melton, Class of 2018

I am Kameron Melton, a 3L from Charlotte, North Carolina. I am starting my seventh year in Williamsburg in the fall, as I attended William & Mary for undergrad. During my 2L year, I externed twice a week at the Chief Staff Attorney’s Office of the Supreme Court of Virginia in Richmond.

Being able to extern for two full days throughout the semester is an invaluable experience I encourage everyone to take advantage of. Every day, I was writing briefs, reviewing trial records and appellate briefs from some of the Commonwealth’s best lawyers, and listening to oral arguments and questioning. I cannot express the value of having the privilege of working alongside amazing staff attorneys and justices of the Court. I gained so many new mentors in addition to improving my legal writing and analytical skills through my externship.

Despite being in Richmond twice a week, I was able to be an active member in the Black Law Students Association, serve as Community Service Chair of the Student Bar Association, as a member of the William and Mary Journal of Women & the Law, and to continue to participate in activities at my church.

Externships basically allow four additional opportunities to gain practical legal experience during law school. Employers are constantly stressing the importance of law students entering the field with more legal experience, and externships are a great way to gain the skills they request. I have been asked about my externship during every interview, and employers are always impressed that I was able to participate in such meaningful practical work during the school year. I am so thankful that the Law School encourages us to structure our schedules in a way that allows for externships.

International Law Engagement at William & Mary

zaleskiby James Zaleski, Class of 2019

When I was looking at law schools, I looked for schools that would provide opportunities to become engaged with international issues. International law has become an important vehicle for collaboration among states, international businesses, non-profits, and markets. In the era of globalization, it is important for law students to develop a global perspective. William & Mary Law School offers many opportunities for students to become engaged with these important issues.

In addition to the Law School’s diverse course offerings in international law, William & Mary also has many internationally-focused student organizations that bring practitioners to the Law School to speak about international issues. I recently had the opportunity to attend a lunch talk hosted by the Comparative Legal Student Scholars. This lunch speaker series featured Judge Katzmann, Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Judge Katzmann’s talk focused on immigration law and he spoke about the unmet legal needs of the immigrant poor. I also had the opportunity to attend a talk hosted by the Human Security Law Center which featured former U.S. Ambassador to Belize, Vinai Thummalapally, who spoke about U.S. trade policies.

William & Mary Law School’s Center for Comparative Legal Studies and Post-Conflict Peacebuilding also plays an important role in promoting international law engagement at the law school. The mission of the Center is to bridge the gap between resources available at academic institutions and the need for them in the international field. The Center offers law students a wide range of academic and field experiences all over the world. The Center maintains collaborative working relationships with many international organizations such as the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance at the Hague, Democracy for Development in Kosovo, and the Open Development Cambodia Initiative. William & Mary law students travel overseas each summer on behalf of the Center to intern with these organizations and contribute their talents, energy, and skills to important international projects.

ODC-LOGOThis summer, I will be interning with Open Development Cambodia (“ODC”) in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Cambodia has a tumultuous history and the country still faces enormous economic and political challenges in the national rebuilding process. Transparency and accountability are two important components of this national reconstruction. ODC’s mission is to provide the public with accurate information about Cambodia and its economic and social development. By collecting and analyzing environmental, social, and economic development data, ODC helps to facilitate research and communication between the public, private companies, and governments. As my first year of law school comes to an end, I look forward to applying my legal research and writing skills in the field and engaging with international law issues!

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Alumnae Share Advice at Law School’s Annual Leadership Conference

by David F. Morrill, Assistant Director of Law School Communications. Republished with permission from the Communications Office.

Career and Life

Julie Silverbrook ’12, Kristine Kippins ’05 and Robin Dusek ’98 talked with students about “Using the Lawyer’s Toolkit to Do Good Works.”

Cultivating mentors and champions. Developing essential soft skills. Building an authentic personal brand. These are just some of the things law students have to consider as they begin their careers.

And consider them they did, and more, at the Law School’s Fifth Annual Leadership Conference on Friday, January 27.

The day-long event—entitled  “Intentionality & Serendipity: Creating a Career and a Life”—saw 15 alumnae return to campus to share advice, strategies, and career wisdom with students and guests alike.

“It’s not a traditional conference where all day long you listen to a bunch of people speak,” said William & Mary Law Dean Davison M. Douglas during his welcome remarks. “This is a conference that is highly interactive.”

Panel discussions were held in one of the Law School’s large classrooms and the McGlothlin Courtroom. Attendees could learn strategies for becoming either a BigLaw partner, an entrepreneur, or an in-house counsel, and could delve into ways of using law skills to do good works and seek elected office.

Twelve breakout sessions also allowed alumnae and students to dig deeper into issues of common concern, and to learn from each other. Among the many questions addressed were “How Does a Newcomer Make Small Talk With Partners and Clients?” and “How are Summer Associates Really Judged?”

The lunchtime keynote address was provided by Amy Greer J.D. ’89. A partner at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, Greer discussed the intentionality and serendipity of “getting from here to there” in a career that has taken her from a big firm to her own firm to a regional firm to the government and then back to Big Law.

“You need to be sure what your skills are, you need to work hard, and you need to reap the benefits of that hard work,” Greer said.

Courtney Lynch ’03, Laura Jacobson ’11, and Brooke Rodgers ’05 held a panel session on “Becoming an Entrepreneur.”

As one of many students who attended the conference, Ana María Matías J.D. ’17 said she enjoyed getting to meet “incredibly talented, brave, and successful” William & Mary Law alums.

“It was reassuring to hear that although the legal arena is so expansive, staying true to yourself and your values will ultimately allow you to find the career path that’s right for you,” Matias said. “Hearing these inspiring women made me feel optimistic about my future.”

Kristin Hopkins J.D. ’18 was equally positive in her assessment.

“This year’s Leadership Conference was nothing less than exceptional!” Hopkins said. “Having the opportunity to be one on one with of the Law School’s most distinguished alumnae was not only inspiring, but also fruitful because I was able to get advice and make lasting connections with women who were in my shoes not too long ago.”

The conference is the fifth in a series of annual events that feature women in law. The first, “Women in Big Law,” was held in 2012 in conjunction with the 75th anniversary of the graduation of Virginia Mister, the first woman student at William & Mary Law School.

Subsequent conferences included “Lawyers in In-House Practice” in 2013, “Lawyers as Leaders” in 2014 and “Making Things Happen, Getting Things Done” in 2016.

The event was sponsored by William & Mary Law School, Office of the Dean, Office of Development & Alumni Affairs, Office of Career Services, William & Mary Business Law Review, William & Mary Journal of Women & the Law, Student Bar Association (SBA), Black Law Students Association (BLSA), Latino Law Students Association (LLSA), Public Service Fund (PSF), William & Mary Women’s Law Society, and the William & Mary National Trial Team.

“We are really grateful that 15 of our alumnae are with us today,” Dean Douglas said. “We’ve been doing this for five years, and what’s interesting is that each year we bring in a new group for the most part…. We have such a fantastic number of alumnae who are eager to participate.”

Read the original story here.

Preparing for the 1L Job Search

zaleskiby James Zaleski, Class of 2019

We are officially two months into the second semester, and the summer job search for the 1L class is well underway! While the 1L class is still busy as ever with our classes and the moot court competition, we also must make a commitment each week towards our job search. A summer legal internship is an invaluable opportunity for students to gain real legal experience, improve their legal research and writing skills, and explore different practice areas.

The Office of Career Services (OCS) has been a tremendous help during this ongoing process. Towards the end of the first semester, all 1Ls had individual meetings with their OCS Dean to discuss career interests and develop individualized action plans for securing summer internships. The OCS Deans have been very accessible and helpful in preparing 1Ls for the application and interview process. I have sent cover letters to OCS for review, and each time I received prompt and invaluable edits and feedback which I have incorporated into my applications. OCS also hosts different job workshops for 1Ls throughout the year. Shortly after returning from winter break, OCS hosted an important 1L Interviewing Skills Workshop where they discussed interview strategies, analyzed common mistakes, and detailed what employers value in an interview. As a part of this workshop, we had the opportunity to develop strategies for answering those tough interview questions and practice with our fellow classmates.

Directory Page TitleIn late January, OCS hosted a mandatory mock interview program for all 1Ls. Every first-year student was paired with a William & Mary Law School alumnus or alumna who played the part of an employer interviewing candidates for a summer internship. Approximately twenty minutes of the appointment was for mock interviewing and approximately ten minutes was discussion time for feedback. Students were paired up with an alumnus/alumna who is working in one of their desired practice areas. I am interested in securing employment in the national security field, and I had the privilege of interviewing with Michael Dick, Class of ’06, who currently works for the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of International Affairs. I appreciated the opportunity to practice my interviewing skills, receive good feedback, and gain some more insight into the Department of Justice. This event highlights the strong community that exists here at William & Mary Law School and the dedication our alumni have to the school and to the continued success of our students. I am confident in my job search, and I am grateful for the opportunity to have the support of so many people here at William & Mary Law School.

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2L Judicial Externship Experience

willisby Blake Willis, Class of 2018

One of the most valuable things you can accomplish while being in law school, is to take the opportunity to extern at least once (but hopefully more). Like an internship, an externship will provide you with the opportunity to work with and learn from a practicing professional and to gain insight into a particular field of law.

courthouseThis semester, I will be working for a Virginia Circuit Court Judge in Newport News, Virginia. While it is still very early in the semester, the experience has already been invaluable. Though I have already been assigned important and interesting research projects, I have also been able to sit in court, observing preliminary hearings and motions, as well as to witness part of several trials. Additionally, I have been able to sit with the Judge and one of his clerks, in chambers, and discuss with them different legal issues, policies and procedures. While often the conversations seem casual, it has been an incredible experience to listen to two practicing attorneys of different levels and to hear their input on important issues. As the semester progresses, I am sure my time working for a Judge will continue to prove valuable, interesting and fun.

While this experience is awesome, it is certainly not unique for any one student at William & Mary Law School. Each semester, dozens of students partake in externships of different levels around Virginia. No matter what your interest, there is almost certainly an opportunity out there waiting for you to learn, and the faculty and Office of Career Services at the Law School are always looking to help.

For more information about externships at William & Mary Law School, click here.

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1L Fall and the Office of Career Services

zaleskiby James Zaleski, Class of 2019

Since arriving at law school, every 1L has been asking himself or herself the same questions: (1) what kind of law do I aspire to practice? and (2) how am I going to secure a 1L summer job? The Office of Career Services (OCS) is here to help. OCS purposefully leaves 1Ls alone in August and September so that we can focus on our classes and adjust to law school without worrying about careers and interviews. With two months under our belts, we are now prepared to take on the additional responsibility of beginning our job search. Over the past month, we have had several productive sessions with OCS. We met as a large group for our first session, and each of us received a career planning manual. The manual includes a plethora of career information such as tools for assessing your ideal practice area, networking tips, and strategies for writing a cover letter just to name a few. One of the most useful items is a timeline for the 1L summer job search with specific steps we should take each month.

My second meeting with OCS was a valuable session on resume building. I attended this workshop with my small legal writing section (13 students), and we learned how to build a legal resume. OCS has a wealth of experience with legal employers and knows what distinguishes great law school resumes. The session included a variety of information including what type of resume layout legal employers preferred as well as how to emphasize the legal skills that employers are looking for in our past experiences. I gathered several useful strategies that I am currently incorporating into my resume as I prepare to enter the 1L summer job hunt. In addition to these periodic OCS sessions, every 1L sits down with their career advisor in OCS to touch base and to develop strategies for the 1L job search. I have my meeting next week, and I look forward to speaking with my career services dean about my career interests and job search.

OCS also does a great job of inviting practicing attorneys to the law school to serve on alumni panels. The purpose of these panels is to expose students to different practice areas and provide insight into the life of a practicing attorney. Many 1Ls, myself included, came to law school with an idea of an area of law they want to practice but are still interested in exploring different specialties. Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the career panel: Alumni Perspectives, Transactional Law Careers. The panelists included Bonnie Brown (W&M ’12), Ryan Kendrick (W&M ’09), and Kristen Welsh (W&M ’12). I enjoyed hearing their perspectives and learning about their work. Bonnie is a senior assistant city attorney for the city of Hampton, and it was fascinating to hear the work she does as a city attorney. I never realized the diversity of legal issues that arise in local government! Ryan is an associate at Williams Mullen in Norfolk, VA. I enjoyed listening to Ryan talk about his experience as a first-year associate and his insight into how the job changes as you acquire more experience and responsibility. Kristen is corporate counsel for CarMax in Richmond, VA. It was helpful to hear her compare her experiences as an associate at a large law firm with her new experiences as in-house counsel at a Fortune 500 company.

All three panelists were highly informative and approachable as they were all happy to answer individual questions after the panel. Transactional law is an unfamiliar practice area, but it is one I would like to research further as a possible career. As a 1L who is busy with writing assignments and case reading, it is always refreshing to hear from young attorneys who are practicing law and who were in law school just a few years ago. I look forward to working with OCS as I begin my summer job search and research legal practice areas.

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The Department of Justice Environment and Natural Resources Division

zimmermanby Liesel Zimmerman, Class of 2017

On October 4, 2016, the Office of Career Services, the Student Environmental & Animal Law Society, and the Virginia Coastal Policy Center hosted “Careers in Environmental Law and with the DOJ,” featuring attorneys from the Department of Justice Environment and Natural Resources Division. Students had the opportunity to hear from William & Mary Law School alumna Patricia McKenna, who serves as General Counsel for the Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD). The Deputy Section Chief of the ENRD Appellate Section, Andrew Mergen, also presented at the event.

The ENRD is comprised of 635 employees, including 451 attorneys. The Division operates primarily from its headquarters in Washington, D.C. but also has a number of field offices in locations such as San Francisco, Denver and Boston. ENRD attorneys represent the United States and various federal agencies; sometimes bringing affirmative cases against companies and municipalities, and sometimes defending the federal government against suit.

DOJ ENRDMs. McKenna and Mr. Mergen explained the diverse roles of each of the 10 specialized sections within the ENRD. For instance, in the Wildlife and Marine Resources Division, litigators defend cases brought under Federal Wildlife and Marine Species Conservation laws, including the Endangered Species Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and the Marine Mammal Protection Act. The lawyers in the Environmental Crimes Section work closely with United States Attorneys’ Offices to prosecute organizations and individuals who violate the federal laws that protect our country’s natural resources. The Environmental Enforcement Section handles the civil side of those cases, working extensively with Superfund, The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Clean Water Act. Attorneys assess the amount of damages that respondents’ actions have caused the environment, and they sue for damages accordingly. The Land Acquisition Section handles condemnation cases and proprietary matters. Of all the sections, the Land Acquisition Section takes the most cases to trial. The Law and Policy Section is responsible for coordinating the ENRD’s international work. They also review pending regulations and legislation. The Appellate Section handles appeals from every litigation division and prides itself on giving new attorneys practical experience arguing in the Federal Court of Appeals early on in their careers.

At the conclusion of the program, the attorneys provided insight into opportunities for interning and working at the ENRD. One of the most appealing aspects of their jobs is that they are always doing something different. In an evolving field like environmental law, every case presents its own interesting new challenges. Having Ms. McKenna and Mr. Mergen speak at the Law School provided an invaluable opportunity for students to gain an inside look at the workings of the ENRD.

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Opportunity to Attend the Local Government Attorney’s Conference

willisby Blake Willis, Class of 2018

A major part of law school is networking, and William & Mary certainly provides its share of opportunities for students to meet practitioners and learn from their experiences. One recent example is the opportunity to attend the Virginia Local Government Attorney’s Conference, which was held here in Williamsburg at the end of October. The three-day conference was held at the Kingsmill Resort, just miles from the Law School, on Oct. 28-30. Each year, the conference provides a scholarship for law students who are interested in working for or with local governments in Virginia to attend – and this year, four William & Mary Law students had the privilege of attending. The conference took place over the course of three days, and had sessions which covered a variety of topics ranging from property and rezoning, foster care, new case law, employment law, conflicts of interest, legislative actions, negotiations and parliamentary procedure, bonds and pro bono work. Each session was conducted by practicing attorneys in Virginia, both those who work for the state and those who work in private practice. Attending the conference allows students the chance to hear from real lawyers who work in these areas every day, and to gather valuable information about what the practice of law is really like. The Law School has a great reputation for its commitment to public service, and this conference is a great way to learn more about public service as an avenue to practice law.

In addition to the educational sessions, the conference holds multiple social events, including happy hours, and a dinner reception. As a student attendee, these events are a great time to go and network with attorneys from across the state with whom a common interest may be shared. Further, many of these attorneys are alumni of William & Mary Law School and are always happy to meet and talk with current students. In addition, they love to hear about the current state of the law school and of Williamsburg. While the conference is not always held in Williamsburg, students do attend every year, and it’s a great opportunity to learn, meet attorneys and network, and to have fun.

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