Fellowship with Veterans Benefits Clinic

by Laura Manchester JD ’17 and Katlyn Moseley JD ’17

manchestermoseleyLaura Manchester (left) is a IL student originally from New Jersey.   Laura graduated from the University of Baltimore in 2013 with highest honors with a degree in Jurisprudence, and spent last year working and traveling before coming to William & Mary.  She is a member of the inaugural Leadership Institute and is a graduate research fellow at the Lewis B. Puller, Jr. Veterans Benefits Clinic. 

Katlyn Moseley (right) is also first-year student. Katlyn is originally from North Carolina and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2014 with a degree in history and political science. She is a member of William & Mary’s National Trial Team and a fellow in the Lewis B. Puller, Jr. Veterans Benefits Clinic.

The Lewis B. Puller, Jr., Veterans Benefits Clinic Fellowship initially attracted us to William and Mary Law School because it offered first year law students the opportunity to impact the lives of the community, something that many law schools reserve for second and third year students.  The Puller Clinic provides free legal services to veterans who need help filing and appealing disability claims.  Working as a fellow in the clinic has been a rewarding and educational experience that any law student would be lucky to have.

Fellows have a diverse range of responsibilities, ranging from legal research for supervising attorneys, to performing administrative tasks to help the operation run smoothly.  This past semester, we had the opportunity to sit in on veterans’ interviews and in-reach programs with supervising attorneys, help launch and contribute to the veterans benefits blog, conduct outreach efforts, and network with veterans clinics at other law schools and organizations to help improve the lives of veterans and their families.   Some unanticipated benefits of working at the Puller Clinic are the connections we have made with the supervising attorneys and other clinic students. These individuals have proven to be an exceptional resource for both of us, sharing their knowledge on everything from veterans law, navigating your first year of law school, and effectively conducting research. The students and faculty that comprise the Puller Clinic community have made this fellowship a truly amazing experience.

We encourage anyone who has an interest in the mission of the Puller Clinic, or any of William and Mary Law School’s many other clinics, to apply for a fellowship and gain the numerous benefits that come with this wonderful opportunity.

This blog post is part of a series featuring student experiences in William & Mary Law School’s nine clinics. To view more clinic posts, click here.

Working as a GRF

by Anna Birkenheier, Class of 2013 and recent graduate

annaAnna is a member of the Class of 2013, from Chicago, Illinois and attended to Northwestern University for undergrad.  Here at William & Mary Law School, she is the Managing Editor of the Business Law Review, a member of the OCS Student Advisory Board, and of the Public Service Fund General Board.

The Graduate Research Fellows program at William & Mary offers a great change of pace from homework, and is a great way to learn more about our professors’ research specialties.  In the classroom, students usually only hear brief descriptions of the more in-depth work their professors do outside of the classroom, gleaned from comments they make about research they’re working on. But as Graduate Research Fellows, students have a unique opportunity to see this work first-hand. After working with one of the school’s administrative offices during their first year, for their second and third years Graduate Research Fellows are assigned to a professor, and work as a research assistant for that professor throughout the academic year.

During the first year, working in one of the school’s administrative departments helps students learn more about the school’s operations. I worked with the Office of Career Services during my first year here, and my time in OCS was a great way to learn how the job search works. Not only did I come away with a lot of useful knowledge on the subject, but I had the chance to get to know everyone in the office really well, and these relationships definitely add a lot to the overall law school experience.

As Graduate Research Fellows for specific professors, students’ assignments can range from locating cases that address particular questions, to more generally researching a particular topic relevant to a professor’s current work. Regardless of the details of the work, though, this work offers a great change of pace—in the midst of normal coursework, it’s nice to have a chance to really get familiar with a current, highly specific legal issue, especially since classes may not always give us the chance to really delve into every topic related to a particular field of law. But our professors specialize in that type of research, and the chance to watch them at work, and to gain familiarity with their specialties through the Graduate Research Fellow program, made the program a great addition to my legal education.