First Annual Friendsgiving Celebration

brownby Cathy Brown, Class of 2017

Since Thanksgiving is approaching, I want to say how thankful I am for the sense of community at William & Mary Law School, and specifically within my “firm,” Section 13.

What, you might ask, is a firm?  In the weeks before the 1L class arrived on campus, the Law School sorted us into “firms,” or sections of approximately twelve students.  We have all of our 1L classes with our firms, with our Legal Practice class consisting solely of this small group of twelve.

As most pre-law students probably know, there’s an ugly rumor that law students are ruthless and will stop at nothing to sabotage their classmates in an effort to get a better grade.  With this in mind, I arrived at school with pretty low expectations for my firm-mates.  I was hoping we could at least reach a level of tolerance so maybe – just maybe – I wouldn’t have to watch my back every single minute of the semester.

Fortunately, I couldn’t have been more wrong about my firm, or about the William & Mary community in general.  Everyone here is incredibly nice and really wants me to succeed, and nobody shows this more than the other students in my firm.  My whole section has become friends, and we’ve formed a great support system for each other throughout the past few months.  We help each other get through the week, whether it’s by loaning a charger for a dying laptop, going for takeout when we simply don’t have energy to make dinner, or sharing funny links on Facebook as a study break.  Of course, we also meet up on weekends for dinner, drinks, or a trip to a local pumpkin patch.

This past weekend, however, was by far the most fun I’ve had with my firm.  Weeks ago, we began planning “Friendsgiving,” which, in case you couldn’t guess, is a Thanksgiving dinner with friends.  Since most of us are going home to our families for Thanksgiving itself, we wanted to have an early celebration as a group.  Although we’re all busy with schoolwork and prepping for finals, each of us took time out of our busy schedules to make something to share and to relax with our friends

Friendsgiving buffet

Friendsgiving buffet

One brave soul offered to host and cook a turkey big enough for eighteen people (our entire firm, plus significant others)!  The rest of us contributed side dishes and desserts, ranging from homemade sourdough bread to mashed potatoes, and honey-baked ham to cranberry stuffing.  Needless to say, we were all pretty stuffed by the end of the night!

My contribution: apple pie and pumpkin cream pies

My contribution: apple pie and pumpkin cream pies

Although all the food was delicious, my favorite part of Friendsgiving wasn’t the green bean casserole or cornbread.  Instead, it was the company.  I’m so grateful that my firm bonded so quickly to form a “law school family,” and I’m thankful that I can share my law school experience with all of these great people.

So, until next year (yes, we’ve already decided to make this an annual event!), Happy Friendsgiving!

Section 13, aka: The best firm at the Law School

Section 13, aka: The best firm at the Law School

Learn more about our Student Bloggers here.

Williamsburg Most Popular Fourth of July Destination

williamsburgHappy Fourth of July!

Yahoo! Travel recently names Williamsburg the most popular destination for Fourth of July. Who can blame there? There are many activities and events in the Historic Triangle, not just on the Fourth but also throughout the weekend.

Watching fireworks? The most popular fireworks viewing locations in the area are Colonial Williamsburg (Market Square or Palace Green & throughout the Historic Area), over the York River in Historic Yorktown, Busch Gardens, the Virginia Living Museum, and Two Rivers Country Club.

During the day of the Fourth, there is a lot more to do in the Historic Triangle.

  • 8 a.m. Yorktown Independence Day 8K Run and 5k Walk at York High school.
  • 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. Liberty Celebration at the Yorktown Victory Center.
  • 9 a.m. Parade on Water Street with Live Music – Yorktown U.S. Coast Guard Ceremonial Band.
  • 10 a.m. Williamsburg’s Fifes and Drums with musket and cannon salutes behind the courthouse.
  • 12 p.m. Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Colonial Williamsburg at the courthouse.
  • 6:30 p.m. Danielle Bradbery (2013 winner of The Voice) at the Lake Matoaka Amphitheater (doors open at 5 p.m.).
  • 7 p.m. Sounds of Liberty Bell Ringing Ceremony at the Riverwalk Landing Stage in Yorktown.
  • 8 p.m. United States Army Training and Doctrine Command Band (Dixie Band) – Riverwalk Landing Stage.

Click here for more information.

Yes, there is something for everyone in Williamsburg!

Happy Fourth  – wherever you are this weekend!

From the Law School Library to the Altar

It’s that time of year– Virginia is for lovers, and we love to share posts about couples who met during their tenure at William & Mary Law School.

by Lindsay Sfekas, Class of 2016


Mary-Carson Saunders, Class of 2013, met her husband Josh Stiff during her first semester 1L year in the library during finals week, with intentions of getting some serious studying done. She speaks fondly of the moment she sat down next to Josh in the library, and he was watching a Youtube video of a parody of law school and giggling to himself.  He enticed her to take a break from studying and watch the rest of the video with him.

As luck, or fate, would have it, Mary-Carson and Josh lived right across the street from one another.  They became fast friends over pot luck dinners, trivia nights, and movie nights with their mutual friends.  During their spring semester, they began dating.  Williamsburg turned out to be a great place to date for these two outdoors loving people.  In fact, their first date was at Jamestown Beach, which is a local beach close to Williamsburg.  Other dates consisted of walking through Colonial Williamsburg, spending time in York River State Park, walking in the College Woods, canoeing on the Chickahominy River, and swimming in the river at Jamestown Beach.

At William & Mary Law School, the two became involved in the George Wythe Society and in the Inns of Court, a leadership networking organization.

During their 3L year, Mary-Carson and Josh returned to Jamestown Beach, the site of their first date, and Josh proposed.  The two were married in Suffolk, Virginia (Mary-Carson’s hometown) on October 5, 2013 with almost 20 of their classmates in attendance.

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Mary-Carson and Josh live in Norfolk, Virgina where she works for the Law School and he a small bankruptcy firm.  When asked about whether she expected to meet her husband in law school, Mary-Carson says, “Absolutely not! I never dreamed in a million years!”

Learn more about our Student Bloggers here.

Sounds of the Season at William & Mary!

Happy Holidays from William & Mary Law School!

Watch the very short video below featuring the Sounds of the Season at William & Mary.

One of the traditional events here at William & Mary is the annual Yule Log. Students pass the yule log through the crowd and touch it for good luck. Afterwards, students walk through the Wren Great Hall and throw a sprig of holly on the fire to throw away the worries of the past year.

Wherever you are this holiday season, we encourage you to throw a sprig and wish you a wonderful year in 2014!

Happy Thanksgiving! Our Students Give Back!

by Phillip Lecky, Class of 2015

Every year, the Black Law Students Association (BLSA) hosts a Thanksgiving Basket competition among the 1L Legal Practice firms. The individual firms get the opportunity to vie against one other to produce the most unique and exquisite displays of culinary artistry.  At the conclusion of the competition, the items are donated to families in need.

This year, the 1L students seemed determined to outdo their colleagues who preceded them, and that they did.  Last Thursday evening, the eve of the competition, walking to my Professional Responsibility class around 6:30 pm, I noticed that the law school lobby area was abuzz with exuberant students, canned goods, boxes of food, and other materials.


Returning to school the next morning, I saw the manifestation of hard work, diligence and commitment , and I must say I was utterly impressed.  I saw various firm creations such as goods formed into the shape of a slice of pie with a metallic paper fork inserted into the middle,  goods made into the shape of a menorah with corresponding paper cutouts to give the appearance of lighted candles, a Despicable Me-themed assortment, a castle with a throne and subjects, a theme park display titled Tort Gardens which was, I suppose, inspired by Busch Gardens, a display made to give the appearance of a table set in anticipation of a great meal along with a menu, and others.


firm 5

Firm 5′s eye-opening replica of King William and Queen Mary’s throne won “Best Content.”

After the judges finished filling out their rubric sheets, and the numbers were tallied, Tort Gardens emerged the victor.  After the competition was over, I helped to dismantle the various displays, clean up the lobby, and move the items to William & Mary vans where they would be placed in storage until it was time for distribution.  Little did I know when I started that the tally would amount to over 7,000 items.  Congratulations to the members of Firm Six, and to all of those who competed to make this another successful year!

firm 8


Firm 6 won “Most Creative” and “Judge’s Choice” this year for “Tort Gardens” Amusement Park.

Learn more about our Student Bloggers here.

Giving Thanks: Becoming Part of the Tribe

by Liz Rademacher, Class of 2016

Since Thanksgiving is around the corner, let’s talk about giving thanks. One of the things that I’m thankful for is that, unlike most other law schools across the country, W&M doesn’t divide its 1Ls into sections. That might seem like a funny thing to be thankful for, so let me explain.

Celebrating one of my classmate's birthday

Celebrating one of my classmate’s birthday

Instead of taking all the same doctrinal classes with a group of the same people in one large section for an entire year, the 226 1Ls at W&M are separated into several smaller groups of 10-15 students called firms. My firm, Firm 8, has 13 students in it. The students in a firm have all the same classes together, so I see the same 12 people every day no matter what, and we’ve all gotten pretty close. But because W&M doesn’t have sections, my firm takes each of its classes with dozens of different firms. My firm takes Torts with 5 or 6 other firms, but then in Civil Procedure we see a group of 5 different firms, and then again in Criminal Law.

What I love about this approach is that you’re practically guaranteed to have at least one class with one of the other 226 people in the 1L class, and you get to meet lots of people in the different firms. Instead of only ever seeing a small fraction of other 1Ls, I feel like I’ve spent time with a huge portion of people in my class. You start to see all how closely all the 1Ls are connected to one another. For example, my roommate is in another firm, but the people in her firm are neighbors with several of the people in my firm, who have class with people in other firms, who went to the same college as people in another firm…you get the idea. You realize really quickly how intertwined all the people in the W&M community are.

My roommate and me at “Firmsgiving”

My roommate and me at “Firmsgiving”

Being able to mix and mingle with different firms in class is great when you’re trying to study, but it’s got a lot of other pretty sweet perks. In particular, I feel like it’s helped me form a great group of friends here at W&M. People in my firm and I will eat dinner or catch a movie with some of the people I’ve met in different firms from class. We’ve celebrated birthdays together, gone to weekly Bar Reviews together, and even taken a weekend getaway to the beach together. Most recently we combined forces to have a potluck “Firmsgiving” dinner, and it’s been one of my favorite nights in Williamsburg so far this year.

There’s something comforting about seeing so many familiar faces at any given time when you’re at the law school. When you’re starting law school in a completely new place, making new friends can seem daunting. But I’ve found that all the opportunities I’ve had to meet my fellow 1Ls have made me feel like a part of one big, supportive tribe. And I’m pretty thankful for that.

Learn more about our Student Bloggers here.

Preparations Underway for July Holiday

Fourth of July celebrations are taking place around the region. Honoring Independence Day is an easy task in Virginia and all over Hampton Roads, where the history of the region stands as a constant reminder of the American Revolution. Hopefully, you will have a festive weekend wherever you are.

You are invited to celebrate with us!


Williamsburg – Virginia’s colonial capital offers one of the best imaginable backdrops for an American Independence Day celebration. It lasts all day and into the evening with many special events throughout Colonial Williamsburg’s historic area. The Colonial Williamsburg Fifes and Drums will play a salute to the original 13 states at 10 a.m. There will be a reading of the Declaration of Independence at noon, a concert by the Fifes and Drums at 5:30 p.m., an 8 p.m. concert by the Virginia Symphony Orchestra at the Governor’s Palace Green, and a grand old fireworks display at 9:20 p.m. Visit

Newport News – Their annual “Stars in the Sky” event downtown is another good one with the U.S. Air Force Heritage Band of America performing popular and patriotic music  from 7 – 9:30 p.m. when the fireworks display over the James River begins.

Yorktown – Fireworks will be launched from a barge in the York River, along the Yorktown waterfront. To kick off the evening’s festivities, the Sounds of the Liberty Bell Ringing Ceremony will start at 7 p.m.

Please remember and honor the courage and sacrifice of our military men and women, past and present. We express our heartfelt gratitude and are blessed to live in a country marked by freedom and prosperity. May you and your family and friends have a safe and happy Independence Day.

Season’s Greetings from William & Mary

By Faye Shealy

President Reveley has sent a special message to the William & Mary community located far and wide. It is that special time of the year when students are finishing exams and preparing for winter break with family and friends.  The campus and Williamsburg are abuzz with activity. The Yule Log ceremonies graced the Wren Courtyard Saturday night with much holly cast into a roaring fire in the Great Hall.  It’s one of William & Mary’s best annual traditions – each person at the ceremony is given a sprig of holly and asked to brush it against the yule log as it passes by for good luck.  Later, we throw the sprig into the fire, symbolizing the disposal of all cares and troubles of the past year.

This year our holiday greeting to all here and around the world is sent with grieving hearts for those families in Connecticut who were so terribly hurt last Friday and whose pain is so enormous. Like millions of others, we grieve with Connecticut and those who have experienced Hurricane Sandy and other difficulties.

The Wren Chapel is a quiet place for reflection on campus.  We hope you have quiet moments along with festive ones and extend wishes for a safe holiday season and a wonderful year ahead.

Williamsburg Christmas Parade

by Elizabeth Cavallari

December 1 was the annual Williamsburg Christmas Parade.  This year’s themes was Lights, Camera, Christmas…Capturing the Season.  More than 100 floats were displayed with the parade route going down Duke of Gloucester Street (DoG Street) in Colonial Williamsburg, Richmond Road, and through William & Mary’s main undergraduate campus.

I participated in the parade for the first time with Young Emerging Professionals of Williamsburg (YEP).  We had members carve a sleigh that we painted red and decorated with movie reels, stars, popcorn, and of course, holiday garland.

It was a great way to come together with young professionals in the Williamsburg area to start celebrating this holiday season!

Grand Illumination – A Wonderful Celebration

by Ashley J. Heilprin, JD/MPP Class of 2013

Photo by the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

Photo by the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

For more than 70 years, Colonial Williamsburg’s Christmas festivities have begun with Grand Illumination, a wonderful celebration filled with twinkling lights, sparkling firecrackers, candlelit buildings, and music. Thousands of locals, tourists, and students alike turn out to watch the beautiful fireworks display.

This year’s Grand Illumination will take place on December 2nd at 5:15 p.m. in the historic area of Williamsburg. The fun begins with performances on the outdoor stages, then at 6:30 p.m. guests illuminate the Revolutionary City with glow sticks in preparation for the 7:00 p.m. spectacular fireworks show.

Don’t miss out on one treat for your ears; make sure you get a chance to listen to the Colonial Williamsburg Fifes and Drums, who provide 18th century holiday music.

Consistent with the historical flair of Williamsburg and knack for traditions, officials say that in the 18th century, firing guns into the air, lighting fireworks, and otherwise illuminating the sky, were commonly used to celebrate major events.

Photo by the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

Photo by the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

Happy Independence Day!

by Faye Shealy


With the Fourth of July approaching, tons of explosive ordnance will soon be bursting in the skies of Colonial Williamsburg (just two blocks from the Law School), Busch Gardens, and Yorktown. If your summer schedule permits, please join us as we salute those who fought for American independence and created this great nation. Everyone is invited, and there’s something for everyone to enjoy!

Below are the activities happening in Williamsburg and the surrouding areas on the Fourth:

  • Salute to the States behind the Courthouse at 10:00 a.m. A special militia muster salutes the 13 original states with Colonial Williamsburg’s Fifes and Drums, musket and cannon fire.
  • The Declaration of Independence is read to the citizens at the capitol at noon. The news arrives only a few weeks after Virginia’s representatives have adopted their own Declaration of Rights and a constitution for the new state. This special presentation gives voice to “the People’s” document.
  • Sentara Williamsburg Regional Medical Center Auxiliary is sponsoring the 30th anniversary of the July 4th Ice Cream Social. The event will be held from 4:30-7:00 p.m. (rain date July 5), at the Wren yard in front of William & Mary. Music will be by the Smith Wade Band, with ice cream, cake, hot dogs, soft drinks, raffle prizes, games, and face painting available. The public is invited to this community family event.
  • The Colonial Williamsburg Fifes and Drums march from the Capitol to Market Square at 5:30 p.m.
  • The U.S. Air Force Heritage of America Band performs on Palace Green at 6:00 p.m.
  • The Yorktown beach picnic area will be open to the public and annual Fourth of July fireworks will take place along the Yorktown waterfront. Performances on the Riverwalk Landing Stage begin at 7:00 p.m. and fireworks begin at 9:15 p.m. over the York River.
  • Colonial Williamsburg’s Fifes and Drums perform on Palace Green at 7:45 p.m.
  • Colonial Williamsburg welcomes the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, led by JoAnn Falletta, to the Independence Day Celebration on Palace Green at 8:00 p.m. Recognized as one of the nation’s leading regional symphony orchestras, the Virginia Symphony Orchestra has enriched the cultural life of the Hampton Roads community for more than eight decades.
  • Fireworks fill the sky and the Colonial Williamsburg event is best viewed from Market Square or Palace Green at 9:30 p.m.
  • Gambols at Chowning’s Tavern – Sing along and play popular games of the day while snacking on Virginia peanuts, light fare, local wines and ales, and a variety of other refreshments at 10:00 p.m.

Happy Fourth!

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