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.

Graduation Recap

We celebrated the Class of 2014 at graduation and the diploma ceremony one month ago today on May 11, 2014. The Law School ceremony was held at Lake Matoaka Amphitheatre, . Degrees were conferred to approximately 270 students in the J.D. and LL.M. programs.

U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia delivered the commencement address. To read more about Justice Scalia’s address, click here. Student speakers included Student Bar Association President Sean Radomski J.D. ’14 and Qian (Lindsey) Ling LL.M. ’14.

Additional awards were bestowed to:

  • Latoya C. Asia J.D. ’09: Taylor Reveley Award
  • Jeffrey Bellin: Walter L. Williams, Jr., Teaching Award 
  • James Booth J.D. ’14: Thurgood Marshall Award
  • Chris Creech: John Marshall Award
  • Kevin S. Elliker J.D. ’14: I’Anson Award 
  • William E. Hoffmann, Jr. ’67, J.D. ’77: Citizen-Lawyer Award
  • Sean J. Radomski J.D. ’14: George Wythe Award

If you have two minutes and 35 seconds to spare, watch the video below for an overview of the ceremony.

Recent Grad Wins Prize in Intellectual Property

Congratulations to Jarred O. Taylor ’13 for winning an award in the American Intellectual Property Law Educational Foundation’s annual Jan Jancin Award Competition!

Jarred Taylor

The award is sponsored by the Virginia State Bar and honors an outstanding law student, either from Virginia or attending a Virginia law school, who has excelled in the study of Intellectual Property law and intends to pursue a career in that field.

Jarred will soon be joining the Palo Alto, Ca., office of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. Congrats Jarred!

Graduation Slideshow

by Faye Shealy

Today is the day that many of our recent graduates sit for the bar exam. We wish them the best of luck, we hark back upon the celebration of their accomplishments during graduation on May 12.

View the slideshow for a sense of the festive event.

Graduation continues to be one of my happiest memories each year. Spirits were high and smiles were everywhere. Many William & Mary graduates were recognized for outstanding academic, program, and service achievements during the Awards Ceremony.


The sunshine and warm breeze were perfect at the Law School’s Exercises for the Presentation of Diplomas at Lake Matoaka and the reception that followed–yes, about 1,500 filled the Law School!

Chancellor Robert Gates, former Secretary of Defense, drew applause and laughter with advice he gave to the Class of 2013 during the graduation speech. Graduates were urged to heed the “duties and responsibilities that come with citizenship” and reminded “Your own Thomas Jefferson believed that William & Mary was the finest school of manners and morals that ever existed in America.”

grad 2

After the ceremony  Chancellor Gates mentioned how impressed he was with the display of joy and affection by our graduates for their classmates, suggesting that we have a strong sense of community in which our students form close relationships and have a meaningful three years together. Those who share the rigorous study of law tend to be drawn together by their common experience. William & Mary law students are able to encourage one another and they do. They support each other during their challenges and celebrate each other’s successes along the way.


Graduation is an important passage in life and significant celebration should be associated. It was for our 2013 graduates, their families, and their friends!


Congrats to the Future Class of 2016!

We are excited to welcome the Class of 2016 to Williamsburg in August! Many of members of the incoming class graduated from college this past May, and we want to highlight some of them–those who sent in their graduation photos to the Admissions Blog!

Congratulations to members of future Class of 2016 on receiving their undergraduate degrees!

W  M mortar board UF sign

Hannah Needleman graduated from the University of Florida.

Kim Knipe - University of Maryland

Kimberly Knipe graduated from the University of Maryland.

sokoloff parents

Samatha Sokoloff graduated from Hamilton College. She is pictured above (center) with her parents.

middle -Abby Riley graduated summa cum laude from the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga this May.

Abby Riley (center) graduated from the University of Tennessee in  Chattanooga.

Pat Sebastian USC

Pat Sebastian graduated from the University of Southern California.

Rachel Ginzburg poses for a photo with her nephew at her graduation from Binghamton University in 2013

Rachel Ginzburg (pictured with her nephew) graduated from Binghamton University.

Penn State Ben Waschler

Ben Waschler (right) graduated from the Pennsylvania State University.

Erika Larsen- Magna Cum Laude as an Honors student with a BS in Political Science and International Affairs.  FL State

Erika Larsen graduated from Florida State University.

Georgia Maclean just graduated from NYU

Georgia MacLean graduated from New York University.

Graduation 2012 – Oh Happy Day!

by Faye Shealy

Graduation ProgramGraduation remains one of my favorite weekends each year and is often celebrated on Mother’s Day as it was this year. Everyone is festive. Smiles are everywhere. Many William & Mary graduates were recognized for outstanding academic, program, and service achievements during the Awards Ceremony on Saturday, May 12, followed by a reception with family and friends in the Wren Courtyard.

The sunshine and warm breeze were perfect at the Law School’s Exercises for the Presentation of Diplomas at Lake Matoaka and the reception that followed on Sunday, May 13. Judge John Charles Thomas drew applause and laughter with advice he gave to the Class of 2012 during the graduation speech. He challenged the graduates to “be proud, powerful changers of the law for the good.”

Graduation - Judge Thomas

Dean Davison Douglas shared special remarks about the beginning of his deanship at the time this class arrived three years ago. He shared memories of these special years and made predictions about future successes of 2012 graduates.

Graduation - Dean Douglas

Those who share the rigorous study of law tend to be drawn together by their common experience. William & Mary students are able to encourage one another, and they do. They support each other during their challenges and celebrate each other’s successes along the way.

Graduates Clapping

Graduation is an important passage in life and significant celebration should be associated – just as it was for our 2012 graduates and their families and friends!  View the slideshow below for a sense of the festive event!


Judge Smith to Speak at Convocation

by Faye Shealy

Judge Smith

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

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

Happy Days!

by Faye Shealy

grad pic

Graduation at William & Mary Law School is one of my favorite days each year.  Our graduates are extremely accomplished and have so many reasons to celebrate.  This year’s graduation speaker was United States Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), who drew applause and laughter with his advice.  He shared insights on risk taking, responsibility, and “remembering to call home.”  If you weren’t there (or if you were there but want to remember it), view our slideshow for a sense of the festive event!

Congratulations Class of 2011!  We are so proud of you!

Guest Blogger Laura Jacobson Wins Thurgood Marshall Award

by Faye Shealy

jacobson thurgood

One of the traditions at William & Mary Law School is the Graduation Awards Ceremony held the Saturday of Graduation Weekend.  Most awards are handed out on Saturday, with only a few exceptional awards being reserved for the Sunday ceremony.  One of these awards is the Thurgood Marshall Award, given to a member of the Law School community – whether graduate, alumnus, faculty or friend – who best exemplifies the ideals of public service personified by the late Justice Marshall.  Although many of our students have demonstrated a profound commitment to public service, this year’s recipient stood out with overwhelming support in the nomination process: Laura Jacobson.  Laura came to William & Mary with a deep commitment to public service, which she furthered in her first year by founding a new student organization, De Vecino a Vecino (neighbor to neighbor), that addresses the educational and legal needs of Spanish-speaking immigrants.  Congratulations, Laura, for your impressive contributions and well-deserved recognition: you have inspired us with your leadership and commitment to public service in the tradition of Thurgood Marshall.

Reflections of a Graduate

by Guest Blogger Laura Jacobson

Laura Jacobson

Guest Blogger Laura Jacobson, Class of 2011

Graduation is this weekend! After three years of long hours at the library and reading more cases than I ever thought possible, that sentence keeps going through my head with a combination of excitement, disbelief, and even unexpected sadness. Amid the hubbub of graduation parties and ceremonies and ushering the family around town, these sentiments replay themselves over and over again as I consider how much has happened in the last three years.

In some ways it seems so long ago since I started as a 1L at William & Mary, a stranger to law school, Williamsburg, and even the East Coast. When I was preparing to go to William & Mary, an alum told me that law school would change me—after an education like this, I would never look at a problem the same way as I did before, never approach an issue the same, or see opposing arguments in the same light. I would forever analyze the world in a different way, he warned me. It was advice I thought little of at the time, but words that have been echoing in my mind more and more often in these last few weeks. That’s where the disbelief comes in—he was so right! Three years is really not a long period of time at all, but 1L year seems so long ago because I’ve learned so much—changed so much—since then. In these three years, I’ve learned how to wade through a debate and pick out the relevant issues, to read an opinion and recognize the deeper principles driving its author, to listen to someone’s story and know which questions to ask so that I can offer the best help.

Law school has changed me, I am beginning to see that. And at the same time, my three years at William & Mary have helped me become the kind of lawyer I knew I wanted to be before I ever arrived here, affirming things I thought were important before I knew anything about law school life. I was drawn to William & Mary because of its emphasis on training citizen-lawyers, and I haven’t been disappointed. My thought processes may be shaped differently now when it comes to analyzing a problem, but William & Mary has shown me that I can hold fast to my belief that there really is a place for “idealist” lawyers. You can expect to change the world around you with your J.D.—my professors have proved this. In them I’ve seen such amazing models of character, compassion, and competence; I have plenty examples of what a citizen-lawyer looks like. That’s where the excitement comes in—I can’t wait to join the practice of law with the William & Mary experience behind me.

On the eve of graduation, there are plenty of opportunities to be nostalgic. Everything is a last—the last lecture I’ll hear from my favorite professor, the last exam I’ll stress over, the last paper I’ll put finishing touches on right up until the deadline. It’s the last intramural sports game, the last rare lazy afternoon spent on Jamestown beach, the last pitcher I’ll share at Paul’s with my same group of friends. All things considered, the twinge of sadness mixed in with the other emotions right now shouldn’t be that unexpected. It’s crazy to think that I came to William & Mary without knowing a soul when now there are so many people I’ll be sorry to leave.

Graduation is this weekend. It’s sure to be filled with good times reminiscing how far we have come and excited talk about where we’re going. It’s excitement, disbelief, and that bit of sadness that accompanies every transition. And permeating all of that, it’s intense pride in being part of the William & Mary School of Law Class of 2011.

Graduation 2010 – Oh Happy Day!

by Faye Shealy

students at graduation

Graduation is one of my favorite weekends each year.  Spirits are high and smiles are everywhere.  Many William & Mary graduates were recognized for outstanding academic, program, and service achievements during the Awards Ceremony on Saturday, May 15. The sunshine and warm breeze were perfect at the Law School’s Exercises for the Presentation of Diplomas in the Sunken Garden and the reception that followed on Sunday afternoon. Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor recalled the day she received her law degree – it only happens once in a lifetime – before urging William & Mary graduates to make a commitment to “being bridge builders” during her inspirational commencement address.  Those who share the rigorous study of law tend to be drawn together by their common experience.  William & Mary law students are able to encourage one another and they do.  They have supported each other during their challenges and have celebrated each others successes along the way.

Graduation is an important passage in life and significant celebration should be associated.  It was for our 2010 graduates, their family and friends!  We are so proud of you!

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