A Law School Built on Traditions

This week, The College of William & Mary celebrates its 326th birthday at Charter Day! On Friday, February 8th, we celebrate not only a renewal of the charter from King William & Queen Mary back in 1693, we also celebrate the official inauguration of President Katherine A. Rowe and the re-investiture of our chancellor Robert M. Gates ’65! In celebration of one of the greatest traditions at the College, we asked 2L Rebecca Jaeger to reflect on some of William & Mary Law School’s traditions as well. 

Rebecca Jaeger, 2L

Rebecca Jaeger, 2L

As one of the oldest universities in the nation, William & Mary is built on tradition. As a school that has been around for this long (326 years!), there is plenty of time to establish traditions that define the school and the community. William & Mary Law School is no exception!

Bust with 2021 hatLaw student traditions kick off during Law Week. Students right away are unofficially inducted into the William & Mary Law community when they receive a William & Mary Law School hat that is embroidered with the year of their graduation. To get the hat, you first have a conversation with the Dean of the law school, which is a great way to be welcomed into the community (and have a personal conversation with the Dean). And then, you get to rock your hat for the rest of the day.

One of the most well-known traditions is the ringing of the bell at the Wren Building. In the first week as a law student, students are invited to ring the bell to signify the beginning of their William & Mary Law education. The tradition comes full circle on the last day of classes as a 3L. All students are then invited to ring the bell again, as symbol of completing their William & Mary education. The entire day, as you walk outside, you can hear the bell ringing, as students are celebrating completing their last day of classes.

239 birthdayTraditions also mark milestones in the three years that we spend as law students here. There’s a “Halfway There” celebration in the beginning of January during 2L year, and a “100 Nights Until Graduation” celebration during the spring of 3L year. I can’t attest to what it’s like to celebrate “100 Night Until Graduation” (as I have a year and 100 Nights to go), but the “Halfway There” celebration was a great way to spend time with classmates, enjoying ice cream, and thinking about how far we have come. It’s also a tradition to celebrate the Law School’s birthday each year (with cake), and let me say that it’s quite a unique experience to attend a 239th Birthday party. It’s a fun way to recognize the previous centuries of legal education at William & Mary Law and to toast to the ones to come.

The traditions at William & Mary Law help build a unique community: one rooted in history and tradition, committed to educating and developing citizen-lawyers.

It’s Back! Thanksgiving Baskets 2018

Despite our finals season stress, William & Mary students try to find time to give back during the holidays. Each year, the Black Law Students Association hosts the Thanksgiving Basket Thanksgiving BasketCompetition. All the 1L sections compete, arranging their givings in a creative manner that will grab the attention of the judges. And the 1Ls really do get creative. Last year, the winning section made their Professor, Dean Kaplan, out of canned goods; others created International Shoe (you’ll laugh once you take Civil Procedure) and other puns from our law school experience. Displays are graded on creativity, the diversity of products, and the quantity of goods. Each section sets up the night before the judgment and claims their spot for their structure. You are able to watch everyone’s ideas slowly form over time.

My section opted for the simple yet elegant Supreme Court. Our Court’s docket was out of the ordinary–we brought suit on behalf our professors and Legal Practice Fellow.

All and all, my 1L class collected over 2,000 items that were delivered to the William & Mary Campus Kitchen, who then organized the items into Thanksgiving baskets for families. Although Section 2’s Supreme Court made out of mainly cans and pasta did not come out on top, it was a great experience to bond. Not only does the law school collect items for those in need, it gives everyone an opportunity to see how thankful they are for their section and the law school community. I’m excited to see what the 1Ls bring to the table this year!

Results aren’t in from this year’s competition, but students collected over 4,000 cans and pantry items! Make sure to follow our Instagram, wmLawAdmissions, for the final winner! 

Brooke Lowell is a 2L from Rockland, Maine. She attended Simmons College and earned her degree in Political Science in 2017. Brooke is currently a member of the Public Service Fund and serves as the Vice President for Equity Alliance. She also works as a member of the Bill of Rights Journal staff. Last summer, she served as a graduate research assistant for Professor Evan Criddle at William & Mary Law School and will continue to work at the Legal Aid Society of Eastern Virginia as her externship for the year.