Summer Experiences: Law Firm in Silicon Valley

focarinoBrian Focarino is originally from Fairfax Station, Virginia. He earned his B.A. from William & Mary with majors in government and linguistics, and his M.Sc. in linguistics from the University of Edinburgh. As a 3L, Brian will be a member of the W&M Appellate & Supreme Court Clinic and serve as Executive Editor of the Law School’s Business Law Review.

I’m spending my 2L summer in Silicon Valley as a summer associate at Cooley, a firm headquartered in Palo Alto, CA. At Cooley, my work focuses on trademark, copyright and advertising litigation, intellectual property litigation and general business litigation, in addition to pro bono matters. I’ve worked on a host of litigation projects for the world’s most exciting established and emerging companies. In six weeks, I’ve written memos on the copyright implications of viral memes, trademark issues with new mobile “apps,” unique questions relating to shareholder derivative suits, and private and public company securities litigation. I’ve attended court and client meetings, and completed training in topics such as the lifecycle of companies and the anatomy of an initial public offering.

Cooler still, I’ve had meaningful exposure to pro bono work, participating in a legal aid clinic in rural Marin County, California, a housing clinic in San Francisco, and contributing to an affirmative application for political asylum on behalf of one of Cooley’s pro bono clients. Outside the office, I’ve spent time on Monterey Bay with all of the firm’s summer associates from across the country, attended countless events and mixers hosted by the firm, met brilliant lawyers, and made some incredible friends.

I’ve been thinking all summer about how cool it is that America’s oldest law school prepares its students to practice all kinds of law, for all kinds of clients, in all kinds of environments, all over the world. Because of that, jumping between Colonial Williamsburg and Silicon Valley couldn’t be easier. I’m having an eye-opening summer, and I owe it to William & Mary for helping prepare me to make the most of it.

Here are Brian’s other posts: Halfway Through BBQ, Thanks, and Meet a Member of the Class of 2015!

A Recent Grad Looks Back

by Laura Vlieg, Class of 2014

Laura Vlieg graduated from W&M Law School this May with the class of 2014. Prior to law school she attended Loyola University Chicago completing majors in Political Science and International Studies, and then worked for a year with an aviation law firm in Washington, DC. This August, she will be starting a position with Obadal, Filler, MacLeod & Klein in Alexandria, VA. 

GraduationPicWell, three years have passed, and I am now the proud owner of a very fancy piece of paper conferring my J.D., and a pretty cool hat to boot.

My time at William & Mary Law was both challenging and rewarding, and I think I will always look back with a little bit of nostalgia, and a lot of relief that I not only survived law school, but thrived. My successes were due largely in part to the wonderful people and the support offered here at W&M, and I will always be happy that I chose such a supportive environment to spend these past three academically intense years.

I am now in the thick of studying for the bar exam, and there are certainly days where my fellow graduates and I throw up our hands and say “Why am I doing this to myself?!” However, I quickly remember the reason when I look ahead to August, when I will be starting my new job in the DC area. I came into law school hoping to work toward a career in aviation law, even though I knew it would be difficult to break into such a niche field in a tough economy. I can happily report that come August, I will be starting a job with a small firm in Alexandria, VA specializing in regulatory work in the field of aviation.

In addition to giving me a solid education and opportunities that helped me lock down my dream job, W&M enabled me to have some fun along the way as well. In my time here I was able to sing alongside some fellow recreational musicians in Law Cappella; teach eager middle and high schoolers about the Constitution through both Constitutional Conversations and the Constitutional Literacy programs; perform primary source research on constitutional history and documents for a nonprofit called ConSource for academic credit (yes, I consider that very fun); and of course participate in myriad social events hosted by student groups such as Barrister’s Ball, the PSF Auction, and so many others.

As I look back fondly on my time here at W&M, I hope you are looking forward to an equally rewarding three years!

Read Laura’s first semester reflection and her experience as a Graduate Research Fellow.

Summer Experiences: Law Firms in WV & NH

sheaBrian Shea is originally from Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. He received his B.A. from Dartmouth College in Government with a minor in Spanish. At William & Mary, Brian is the Editor-in-Chief of the William & Mary Business Law Review and a member of the Law School Honor Council. 

After working at a law firm in New York City for two years before law school, I knew that the law firm environment was where I wanted to end up. I took advantage of the law school’s on-campus interview program during the winter of my 1L year, and landed a summer associateship at Steptoe & Johnson in Bridgeport, West Virginia. At Steptoe I gained exposure to a variety of corporate and business litigation matters, the majority of which stemmed from West Virginia’s booming coal and natural gas industries. I have always been interested in the legal and compliance concerns of the energy sector, given the robust regulatory regime that governs it and the often contentious political climate that surrounds it. Steptoe afforded me exposure to a range of issues relevant to its energy clients, everything from eminent domain and lease disputes to bankruptcy and antitrust.

This summer I am working at McLane Law Firm, a mid-sized firm in Manchester, New Hampshire, close to my family and geographically where I hope to settle. Unlike larger firms, McLane hires associates into just two practice tracks–corporate and litigation. My focus has been primarily corporate, and after six weeks, I have already been staffed on several M&A transactions, as well as securities, tax, and corporate governance matters. By working at McLane, I hope to emerge with a more robust corporate skill set than I might at a larger firm with specialized, discrete practice areas. The most personally impactful aspect of my summer, however, has been the opportunity to work with several of McLane’s pro bono clients, helping them to navigate complex issues of personal bankruptcy and post-divorce asset distribution. It is particularly rewarding to know that my legal training can have a meaningful and positive impact on individuals living in the state where I grew up. My summer has certainly helped to fortify my sense of what it means to be a Citizen Lawyer.

I look forward to returning to William & Mary in the fall to build upon my practical business acumen as an extern at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, and by participating in the law school’s Federal Tax Clinic.

Summer Experiences: House Judiciary Committee

lukishTom Lukish is originally from Richmond, Virginia.  Choosing to remain in the Commonwealth for his undergraduate studies, Tom graduated from Virginia Tech in 2013 with a B.A. in Political Science.  In his second year at the Law School, Tom will be joining the staff of the William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal, as well as serving on the Board of William & Mary’s chapter of the Virginia Bar Association.

One of the many wonderful things about William & Mary is the incredible Office of Career Services (OCS).  In the first meeting with my counselor, Dean George Podolin, the two of us discussed my hobbies, interests, career goals, and a number of things in between.  Upon learning of my desire to become involved with the federal government, Dean Podolin suggested that I do two things: research a variety of avenues to our nation’s capital, and reach out to individuals in government whom I have met over the years.  Very fortunately, I applied to and was offered a position with the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary.

The House Judiciary Committee passes a high number of bills each year, and it has been an absolute pleasure to assist counsel, staff, and Members of the Committee in their effort.  Addressing a variety of areas of the law, the Committee regularly holds hearings and drafts legislation relating to the U.S. Constitution, crime, homeland security, immigration, and intellectual property.

Thus far, my experience with the Committee has been nothing short of spectacular.  Placed within the Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security, I have been able to use the writing, communication, and research training I gained at W&M to help Congress address one of the nation’s most pertinent issues.

One of the more thrilling aspects of this position is that each day presents something new.  No day is identical to the last for many offices on Capitol Hill, and while subcommittees remain consistent in terms of their overarching focus, the same is true for Members and staff of the House Judiciary Committee.  The myriad of current events and challenges facing this country, in combination with the inherent excitement that accompanies the Hill, has made for an unforgettable experience.  I could not be more appreciative of the opportunity to use my legal education to enter the world of American politics and public service.

Very thankful for what OCS and the entire W&M Law community has helped me with thus far, I hope that my experience in Washington will encourage other students interested in government to look into the plethora of opportunities that exist in D.C.  It is a tremendous feeling working in a way that serves the country as a whole, and I look forward to hopefully working in or around government in the future.

Summer Experiences: Law Clerk at Ohio Attorney General

liz berryLiz Berry is originally from Westfield Center, Ohio. She earned her B.A. from Otterbein University, double majoring in History and Political Science. She is spending her 1L summer at the Ohio Attorney General, Education Division.

Since I’m sure everyone reading this blog post has been diligently following me since I began my writing career for the Admissions Office last autumn, you may consider this an addendum to “May the Internships be Ever in Your Favor.” Because I really lucked out and landed a great one.

I’m spending my summer as a law clerk with the Ohio Attorney General. And in case you’re like my friends and asking “how’s it feel to put people in jail?” let me just clarify by stating that I’m working in the Education Division. And really, truly, honestly, I promise. We do not put people in jail. Or at least we haven’t in the seven weeks I’ve been working.

My section represents the 30+ public colleges and universities in the state of Ohio, as well as the Ohio Department of Education. We deal with lawsuits by or against the colleges, can be used by the colleges as general counsel if so desired, and we also litigate teaching licensing and child nutrition hearings. My mentor and I joke that the section is more like a litigation firm than anything else. And luckily for me, that means there’s plenty of substantive legal work to do.

So what have I been up to this summer? Plenty of research and memo assignments on general legal topics…having a working knowledge of Civ Pro and Contracts has definitely come in handy. I’ve had the opportunity to work on two briefs for administrative hearings and also write my own (supervised) motion to dismiss! Needless to say, it was really exciting that they trusted me enough to draft work with the AG’s name on it. The program has also provided plenty of out-of-the-office experiences. I’ve been able to attend several court sessions (our section was actually involved in a three week federal jury trial where I was put on the stand! (only to read a deposition but it still counts)), administrative hearings, and even sit in on a settlement. The law clerks have met the AG, judges, court clerks, and been able to attend resume and writing workshops. It’s been a busy summer, and I’m almost disappointed that there are only four weeks left. Still, I’m excited to get back to W&M to see what opportunities 2L year will bring!

Public Service Fellowships, Summer 2014

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William & Mary Law School awarded $335,395 – the most ever awarded by the Law School – to 109 students for public service fellowships during Summer 2014.  Students will assist 98 organizations in 16 states, the District of Columbia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Cote d’Ivoire, Indonesia, Iraq, Italy, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Lithuania, Morocco, The Netherlands, South Africa, and Spain.

A-007Arts

  • Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts (New York, NY)

Aviation and Maritime Commerce

  • U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Division, Torts Branch, Aviation and Admiralty Section (Washington, DC)

Child Advocacy and Protection

  • Legal Aid Justice Center, Just Children Program (Richmond, VA)
  • Legal Aid Society, Juvenile Rights Practice (New York, NY)
  • Partnership for Children’s Rights (New York, NY)

 Civil Legal Aid

  • Bet Tzedek Summer for Justice Program (Los Angeles, CA)
  • Community Legal Services (Philadelphia, PA)
  • Legal Aid of North Carolina (Greenville, NC)
  • Legal Aid Society of Eastern Virginia (Norfolk, VA)
  • Legal Aid Society of Eastern Virginia (Williamsburg, VA) (2)
  • Texas Appleseed (Austin, TX)

Civil Rights and Civil Liberties

  • American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia Foundation, LGBT Civil Rights Summer (Richmond, VA)
  • National Center for Lesbian Rights (Washington, DC)
  • New York Attorney General, Civil Rights Bureau (New York, NY)
  • U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Appellate Section (Washington, DC)
  • U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Disability Rights Section (Washington, DC)
  • U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section (Washington, DC)

Comparative Constitutional Law

  • Conreason Project (Madrid, Spain)

Diplomacy

  • U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs (Washington, DC)

Election

  • Fair Vote (Takoma Park, MD)
  • Federal Election Commission (Washington, DC)
  • National Conference of State Legislatures, Campaign Finance Legal Department (Denver, CO)
  • National Conference of State Legislatures, Campaign Finance Legal Department, Candidates and Campaigns Legal Department (Denver, CO)

Environmental

  • Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (Tallahassee, FL)
  • U.S. Department of Justice, Environmental and Natural Resources Division, Environmental Defense Section (Washington, DC)
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Enforcement and Compliance (Washington, DC) (2)
  • Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bangladesh Ceracean Diversity Project (Sonadanga, Bangladesh)

Federal Government: U.S. Supreme Court Litigation

  • U.S. Department of Justice, Office of the Solicitor General (Washington, DC)

Financial and Business Regulation

  • U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Division of Corporation Finance (Washington, DC)
  • U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Division of Enforcement (Washington, DC) (2)

Health Care

  • Legal Information Network for Cancer (Richmond, VA) (2)
  • Legal Services of Southern Piedmont, Family Support and Healthcare Division (Charlotte, NC)

Immigration

  • Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition, Detained Children’s Program (Washington, DC)

Indigent Criminal Defense:  Federal

  • Federal Public Defender, Eastern District of Virginia (Norfolk, VA)

IMG_2469Indigent Criminal Defense:  State and Local

  • Charlottesville Public Defender (Charlottesville, VA)
  • Fredericksburg Public Defender (Fredericksburg, VA)
  • Hampton Public Defender (Hampton, VA)
  • Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy (Newport, KY)
  • Monroe County Public Defender (Rochester, NY)
  • Norfolk Public Defender (Norfolk, VA) (2)
  • Public Defender of Metropolitan Nashville & Davidson County (Nashville, TN)
  • Richmond Public Defender (Richmond, VA)
  • Schuylkill County Public Defender (Pottsville, PA)
  • New Hampshire Public Defender (Concord, NH)
  • Virginia Capital Representation Resource Center (Charlottesville, VA)

International Human Rights

  • Iran Human Rights Documentation Center (New Haven, CT)

Judiciary

  • Alexandria Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court (Alexandria, VA)
  • Hampton Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court (Hampton, VA)
  • The Honorable David G. Larimer. Western District of New York (Rochester, NY)
  • The Honorable David J. Novak, Eastern District of Virginia (Richmond, VA)
  • The Honorable Sarah Ellis, Northern District of Illinois (Chicago, IL)

Labor and Employment

National Labor Relations Board (Baltimore, MD)

  • North Carolina Department of Justice, Attorney General’s Office, Labor Section (Raleigh, NC)
  • U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (Chicago, IL)

Military Justice

  • U.S. Coast Guard, Office of Maritime and International Law (Washington, DC)
  • U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General Corps, Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals (Washington, DC)

Post Conflict Peacebuilding/Rule of Law (funded by William & Mary Law School’s Program in Comparative Legal Studies and Post-Conflict Peacebuilding)

  • American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative, Morocco (Rabat, Morocco)
  • Beijing Children’s Legal Aid Research Center (Beijing, China)
  • Center for Legal Aid and Regional Development (Pristina, Kosovo)
  • Center for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, Transitional Justice (Cape Town, South Africa)
  • Democracy for Development (Pristina, Kosovo)
  • East West Management Institute (Baku, Azerbaijan)
  • East West Management Institute (Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan)
  • East West Management Institute (Phnom Penh, Cambodia) (2)
  • International Bridges to Justice (Phnom Penh, Cambodia) (2)
  • International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (The Hague, Netherlands)
  • International Law Development Organization (Rome, Italy)
  • International Center for Transitional Justice (New York, NY)
  • International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (The Hague, Netherlands)
  • Law Institute of Lithuania (Vilnius, Lithuania)
  • National Center for State Courts, International Programs Division (Arlington, VA)
  • People Against Suffering, Poverty and Oppression (Cape Town, South Africa)
  • PUSAKO Center for Constitutional Studies (Padang, Indonesia)
  • Tetra Tech DPK Access to Justice Program (Baghdad, Iraq)
  • Tetra Tech DPK Justice Sector Support Program (Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire)
  • United States Institute of Peace (Washington, DC)

Prosecution: Federal

  • U.S. Attorney, District of Columbia (Washington, DC) (2)
  • U.S. Attorney, District of Nebraska, (Omaha, NE)
  • U.S. Attorney, Eastern District of Virginia (Newport News, VA)
  • U.S. Attorney, Eastern District of Virginia, (Norfolk, VA)
  • U.S. Attorney, Southern District of West Virginia, (Beckley, WV)
  • U.S. Department of Justice, Criminal Division, Fraud Section (Washington, DC)

BushrodMootCourt2014 (58)Prosecution: State and Local

  • Baltimore City State’s Attorney (Baltimore, MD)
  • Colonial Heights Commonwealth’s Attorney (Colonial Heights, VA)
  • Hampton Commonwealth’s Attorney (Hampton, VA) (2)
  • Harris County District Attorney, Human Trafficking and Juvenile Justice Division (Houston, TX)
  • Louisa County Commonwealth’s Attorney (Louisa, VA)
  • Nassau County District Attorney (Mineola, NY)
  • New Kent County Commonwealth’s Attorney (New Kent, VA)
  • Norfolk Commonwealth’s Attorney (Norfolk, VA) (2)
  • Prince George’s County State’s Attorney, Domestic Violence Unit (Upper Marlboro, MD)
  • Shelby County Attorney General (Memphis, TN)
  • State’s Attorney, Ninth Judicial Circuit, Homicide Division (Orlando, FL)
  • Virginia Attorney General, Public Safety and Enforcement Division, Computer Crime Section (Richmond, VA)

Research Compliance

  • George Mason University, Office of Research Integrity and Assurance (Fairfax, VA)

State and Local Government: Civil

  • Maryland Attorney General, Department of Human Resources (Baltimore, MD)
  • Nassau County Attorney (Mineola, NY) (2)
  • Spotsylvania County Attorney (Spotsylvania, VA)

A Day in the Life of a 1L

by Liz Rademacher, Class of 2016

Now that I’ve finished the first half of my first year of law school at William & Mary, I feel like I’ve started to settle into a routine. My schedule’s a bit different each day, but here’s a glimpse into a random Thursday in the life of a 1L:

7:00 a.m. My alarm clock goes off. Time to wake up!

7:09 a.m. Okay, so I hit the snooze button just once. Waking up for real now! Time for me to shower, eat breakfast, and pack up my things for the day before I make the ten-minute commute to the law school for my first class this morning.

8:30 a.m. Time for Legal Practice! My Legal Practice class meets three times a week, twice with a legal writing professor and once with an adjunct professor who teaches my class other legal skills. Some weeks, we’ll have lectures with the law school librarians instead of meeting for class. Today my class is reviewing the basics of persuasive legal writing. I have class with my Legal Practice firm, which has only 13 other people in it.

10:00 a.m. Now I need to go to Contracts, my largest class. We’re learning about which kinds of promises are legally enforceable in a contract today (it’s more exciting than it sounds).

11:30 a.m. Time for Property, where we’re learning about adverse possession. Just a little over an hour until I’m done with all my classes for the day!

12:45 p.m. All finished with classes and now my favorite part of the day, lunch hour, is finally here. The law school purposefully doesn’t schedule classes during this time of the day to give students a chance to go to events or meetings and to eat lunch. Today, I’m going to a panel of guest speakers the Office of Career Services has organized to hear about legal careers within local, state, and federal government offices. Like most events that OCS plans during this time of day, there’s free pizza!

2:00 p.m. Time to hit the books. After the OCS event ends, I grab a snack from Greenberry’s, the law school café, and head to the law library with some of my friends. We grab a table in the sunny reading room on the first floor with a view out the window of some trees. I unpack my books, queue up my favorite study music playlist, and cozy into a reading for my Constitutional Law class.

4:30 p.m. After finishing up my reading and taking some notes, I head to a Public Service Fund meeting. I’m on the general board of PSF, so I help to plan events and fundraisers throughout the year. This meeting is about PSF’s annual fundraiser auction, which helps to raise money for students who work in unpaid public service internships over the summer. We meet for about an hour to talk about food, entertainment, and decorations for the big night.

5:30 p.m. I head home where my roommate and I like to unwind after a long day by eating dinner together. I warm up a bowl of soup as we chat about our days, and then we watch an episode of Scrubs before hitting the books again.

7:00 p.m. More reading.

9:00 p.m. I take a quick break and call my mom to say hi before I start to write a cover letter for a summer internship. Tomorrow I’ll bring it into OCS to ask one of the career services deans to review it for me—they give awesome feedback!

9:30 p.m. Done with work for the day. I surf the web for a bit and send a few emails before shutting down my laptop and curling up in bed with a good book.

11:00 p.m. Bedtime!

And there you have it—a day in the life of a 1L.

Learn more about our Student Bloggers here.

Mock Interviews– Connecting 1Ls with Alumni

by Liz Berry, Class of 2016

It’s interview season for 1L’s and the pressure is on. For 1L’s straight out of undergrad (like yours truly) interviews with potential legal employers are a whole new world. And frankly, slightly daunting. I’m fairly certain in my first interview, I forgot my first name. I believe the interview went something like: You want to know my name and why I wanted to go to law school? Um, those are very good questions. Let me get back to you on that…

And what’s the best way to overcome interview jitters (and remember your name)? Practice, practice, practice. I’ve found that the more interviews I’ve done over the past month or so, the more confident I’ve become. The Office of Career Services had been so helpful in prepping for interviews. I’ve worked with my Dean about how to answer certain questions and, best of all, OCS set up an entire Mock Interview Day. W&M Law alumni from various legal fields were invited to campus on Friday morning, and any 1L who signed up had a “mock” but very real feeling interview with someone in a field they were interested in.

My interview was with an Assistant Attorney General of Virginia (which was perfect, since I’m interning with the Ohio Attorney General this summer. Good work matching us up, OCS).  And while this time I didn’t forget my first name, my interviewer asked some hard questions for which I was slightly unprepared. And honestly, I think that was the best thing that could have happened. I learned how to think on my toes, and the feedback I received after the interview ended gave me a better idea of ways to answer when I’m unprepared. My interviewer spent at least fifteen minutes giving me advice on how to give better answers, and how to better present myself in the future. (Sorry to the person who was interviewing after me…I was so caught up in chatting with my interviewer we may have blown past the 30 minute mark. But really, doesn’t that just show how much our alumni are willing to help? Love it.)

Overall, I think the practice interview was a very valuable experience. Interviews can only get easier from here on out…or at least I’ll be more comfortable with them. And that’s all I can ask for.

Learn more about our Student Bloggers here.

Career Services Public Sector Employment Panel

by Jenn Watson, Class of 2016

On January 13th, the Office of Career Services had a panel discussion on Government and Public Sector Lawyering. It was a great opportunity to get an idea of the broad range of public sector jobs available, and the panel talked frankly about everything from grades and resumes to their personal experiences with the government shutdown.

Sharon E. Pandak BA '75, JD '78

Sharon E. Pandak, BA ’75, JD ’78

The panel moderator was Sharon Pandak, a W&M Law alumna who has served as a county attorney and is currently with Greehan, Taves, Pandak & Stoner, PLLC in Woodbridge, VA. On the panel were Robin Edwards, another W&M Law alumna who works as a patent attorney for NASA, Gilbert Earle Teal, a W&M Law alumnus who works for the Defense Contract Management Agency, Major Nora Rule and Captain Alan Serrano, U.S. Air Force Judge Advocates, and Lesa Yeatts, the Senior Deputy City Attorney of Hampton, Virginia.

All of the panel members were enthusiastic about public sector work, and spoke in particular about the wide range of opportunities available even within their individual fields. Robin Edwards noted that although her particular position required a technical background, and that she had been an engineering major as an undergrad, NASA has a variety of lawyers on staff who have different qualifications and work in various fields. Alan Serrano spoke about his experiences as a JAG on an air force base, and how he has been exposed to many different areas of law as they come up for the airmen serving on the base where he works. Nora Rule agreed, and even added that she had done research for cases in areas such as Environmental Law, which might seem unexpected. Lesa Yeatts added that her experiences as a city attorney were similar, and that municipal jobs generally involve a broad range of law. One of the positives she cited was the ability to actually affect law on the municipal level by drafting and proposing statutes and regulations.

The panel was also asked about the benefits and downsides to working for the government, particularly as regarded the recent government shutdown. The majority of the panel were federal employees, and hence had been directly affected. All of them had been without pay at the time, although they had subsequently received back pay. Robin Edwards added that she had also been affected by the shutdowns in 1995-1996. In general though, the panel was positive about their experiences working for the government and noted advantages like salary predictability, benefits, and job security as being compelling reasons to consider a career in the public sector.

As might be expected, the panel received many questions asking them what they consider from the perspective of recruiters and hirers for their respective industries. Although some of them mentioned basics, like well-formatted and carefully proofread resumes, others spoke about specific experiences with candidates and what made them stand out. Sharon Pandak told an anecdote about a time when her county wasn’t hiring, but a recent law school graduate was so enthusiastic about working there she volunteered her time, and when a position came up months later, she was hired because they knew that her work was outstanding and they were already comfortable working with her.

Learn more about our Student Bloggers here.

Learn About the Appellate and Supreme Court Clinic

by Bridget Claycomb, Class of 2016

How many law students can say that they have represented real clients, in front of real Federal Circuit Court Judges, against seasoned attorneys? Students in William and Mary’s Appellate and Supreme Court Clinic can! The Public Service Admissions Ambassadors sat down and talked about this unique opportunity with Skyler Peacock, Brittany Sadler, and Andrew Steinberg –all third year law students—who are currently enrolled in the year-long clinic. Like most clinics, the students receive three credits each semester and learn valuable practical skills.

Tillman J. Breckenridge --Adjunct Professor of Law & Managing Attorney William & Mary's Appellate and Supreme Court Clinic

Tillman J. Breckenridge –
Adjunct Professor of Law & Managing Attorney William & Mary’s Appellate and Supreme Court Clinic

“It’s the best thing I’ve done in law school,” says Brittany. “I get to practice real legal skills. I’ve been able to present oral arguments to a panel of 6th Circuit judges and  represent a client who needed my help… and I am not even a [bar certified] lawyer yet.”

Skyler, Andrew, and Brittany all came to William and Mary Law School with a goal to give back to their communities. Skyler wanted to make a difference by becoming a prosecutor. Andrew’s focus was public interest, and he was fascinated by the role that public institutions played in American Society. Brittany gravitated toward constitutional law and immigration. Each student pointed to their scholarships and the supportive student community as reasons why they chose William and Mary Law School. In fact, both Brittany and Andrew said it was testimony from upper classmen that helped them decide to do the Appellate and Supreme Court Clinic.

The students also say that the clinic’s director—Professor Tillman Breckenridge—is a big reason why they chose to apply for the clinic.  Skyler says, “He’s a great person and attorney. He really shows us the art of appellate advocacy.”  Andrew agrees, “ Professor Breckenridge is excellent. I appreciate his practical insights.”

The clinic members we spoke to all said the Appellate and Supreme Court Clinic is a beneficial part of their law school experience. Clinics give law students a chance, as Andrew said, to advocate for more than just a grade, but for real people with real legal issues.

Learn more about our Student Bloggers here.

Externship with the New Kent Commonwealth’s Attorney

jackbrockJack Brock is originally from Greenville, North Carolina. He earned a B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with majors in Chemistry and Political Science. As a 3L, Jack worked at the New Kent Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office as an extern.

Law students who wish to try cases during their 3L year should definitely extern at a Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office. Obtaining an externship at a Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office provides much more than courtroom experience. Other practical skills and experiences that are gained at the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office are 1) negotiating with defense counsel, 2) case preparation, 3) interviewing witnesses, and 4) drafting and filing legal documents.  This can be a fast paced job at times, and students can expect to receive a great deal of responsibility.

My own experience at New Kent was fantastic. My mentor split the docket into two; I was completely responsible for half of the criminal docket. I prepared my cases with little supervision, negotiated with defense attorneys, and made plea agreements. I tried around five or six cases in General District Court. During these trials, I made and successfully challenged objections.

An important part of this externship was learning how to think under pressure. There were times where the judge glared at me, or where my mentor stated that I could have performed better; however, I learned not to let this criticism affect me. When you are in court, it is essential to keep calm even if you made a glaring error, or if your witness freely admits a fact that is damaging to his/her credibility (and thus damaging to your case). For example, during cross examination, my witness stated that she had short term memory loss. I was appalled, and as I looked around the room, the other attorneys were laughing at me. How embarrassing, right? Wrong. I had a job to do, and I called a police officer who corroborated my witness’s testimony. We obtained a conviction.  Learning how to think quickly under pressure is one of the many reasons that this experience was valuable to me and will also be valuable to any other law student considering a career in litigation.

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