PSF’s Halloween Party

wentworthby Christie Wentworth, Class of 2018

As I’m sure you have been warned, law school can be scary. This is not necessarily for the reasons you think, though! This past Halloween, the Law School transformed into a ghouly, eerie scene. Spider webs consumed tables, statutes transformed into the ghosts of their past, and witches cackled as they greeted innocent party-goers. Over three hundred students donned their finest—or bloodiest, or wittiest, or silliest—costumes for the Public Service Fund’s Annual Halloween Party. If there is anything law students take more seriously than academics, it might be Halloween costumes!

For the price of a ticket, students got to eat, drink, dance, and, most importantly, show off their creativity. The law school was filled with movie stars, cartoon characters, skeletons, farm animals, historical figures, vampires and the like. Students voted for their favorite costume in two categories—individual and group costume—and the winners in each received prizes for their creativity.

Best Group Costume: Seven Deadly Sins

Seven Deadly Sins

Best Individual Costume: Ricky Vaughn

Vaughn2

Vaughn

As with all PSF events, the proceeds from the Halloween Party will be used to support students pursuing unpaid summer internships. Thanks to generous donations from local retailers*, this year’s event raised over $3,400!

*Thank you to the following restaurants and retailers for their generous donations: Dominos, Z Pizza, Harris Teeter, Martin’s, Trader Joe’s, Firehouse, Qdoba, Brickhouse, Emily’s Donuts & Café, Sal’s, Papa Murphy’s.

Learn more about our Student Bloggers here.

Bone Marrow Drive Pie-Eating Contest

lennonby Kate Lennon, Class of 2017

On October 28th, the Law School yet again proved that it could come together for a good cause. The annual Bone Marrow Drive Pie-Eating Contest went into full effect during the lunch hour. The goal of the contest is to raise awareness and funding for bone marrow related illnesses. For this event, students could purchase entry for $5.00. Upon entry into the actual event you are given a piece of pie (I had strawberry!) and a seat to watch an entertaining show. The entertaining show is a pie-eating contest. Who are the contestants? Well none other than our very own students, professors, and faculty! There was a student contestant representing each class year along with the various professors and faculty.

Throughout the week prior to the event students, faculty and staff had the opportunity to donate money toward the cause of bone marrow related illnesses. For every two dollars a person donated they could bring a contestant’s time for pie eating up or down 5 seconds. The idea was to try and bring up the time for a person you wanted to win or bring down the time for a contestant you wanted to lose. The rules for the contest were simple. Whoever ate the most pie in their allotted time, without using their hands, won! It ended up being quite entertaining to watch as the professors’ and students’ faces became covered in the pie of their choice.

In the end, the 3L student won the contest overall. He was also the student who planned the entire event! Professor Griffin won the faculty portion of the contest, maintaining his dynasty as the reigning champion of the faculty pie-eating contest (bringing his trophy from last year to the competition with him). Here you see professor Griffin after finding out he had won:

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Professor Griffin did not just win a trophy, however. He was also given the opportunity to pie all the students in the face with whip cream pies. Here you can see Professor Griffin pushing a pie into the face of the 1L contestant (who ironically received a trophy for eating the least amount of pie):

griffin 2

The whole event was great. It was a great way to take a break from studying, eat some delicious pie, as well as raise awareness and funding for bone marrow related illnesses. The entire event raised $2,565!! It was definitely a success and I can see why they do it every year!

Learn more about our Student Bloggers here.

PSF Singer-Songwriter

wentworthby Christie Wentworth, Class of 2017

For most people, November is just another month. Maybe it’s the time to start Christmas shopping, the time to dig out the snow shovel (at least if you live in New York, where I’m from!), or the time to plan your Black Friday schedule.

For law students, however, November is more than “just another month”: it’s the month before finals. For us, it’s the time to start (or finish) applying to jobs, the time to submit a note for journal, or the time to start outlining, all while balancing extracurriculars, externships, and, hopefully, a little fun.

Everyone handles these pressures differently, but for many people playing or listening to music can be a great way to relieve stress. Thankfully, the Public Service Fund hosts a timely event that gives students an opportunity to do just that. On November 14, over sixty-five students attended “Singer Songwriter”, an event where thirteen groups and solo artists performed original music as well as cover songs. For some law students, this was their first chance to perform in public. For others, playing at local venues is nothing new!

Ray Bilter Bagpipes2L Chris Generous started off with the only nonmusical act of the night—an impressive and energetic breakdance performance that left us all thinking about how we should really get in shape. 1L Ray Bilter followed with a few tunes on the bagpipes, bringing in both traditional Scottish sounds as well as some Irish jigs. Other highlights of the night included The Right to Bare Arms’ rendition of “Wagon Wheel”, Christmas music on the fife, an oboe and French horn duet, Cameron Boster playing original music on the guitar, a creative rendition of “Cups”, The Learned Hand Bluegrass Band’s “House of the Rising Sun”, Treedust’s “The Mother We Share”, Law Cappella’s “Say Something”, Dan Ginnetty’s “Tiny Dancer”, Miram Strauss performing “Hallelujah”, and a grand finale by Sean Bevil with “Walking in Memphis”.

The Learned Hand Blugrass Band

Even audience members such as myself who could not quite rise to the talent of the performing artists were invited—and encouraged—to sing-along. I will most certainly be attending the event next year and look forward to seeing some members of the new 1L class perform!

Learn more about our Student Bloggers here.

Gum J.D. ’16 Recounts Summer Experience in Iraq

Kaylee-Gum

 by Leslie McCullough

Reposted from the William & Mary Law School News, Originally Posted on  October 27, 2014

The primary purpose of an internship is to offer students real-world experience. Few opportunities achieve that goal as profoundly as Kaylee Gum’s summer 2014 internship working to enhance the delivery of legal aid to the Iraqi people.

“It was a very interesting time to be in Iraq,” says Gum, a second-year law student at William & Mary. “As Iraqis look into the next steps for their country, it was interesting to hear local opinions and learn how people perceive the politics, economy, and future of their country.”

Growing up in a military family, Gum spent several years of her childhood abroad, living in Germany and Italy. She enlisted in the Air Force ROTC program and graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2013 with a degree in Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies, then continued directly to law school.

“William & Mary had great credentials and I knew I’d be happy here,” says Gum, who is a second lieutenant and reservist on an Air Force JAG educational delay. “I liked that the school offered lots of international law classes and that there is a lot to do outside the classroom to enjoy a well-rounded experience. Everything I heard was positive and it has all proven to be true.”

Last spring, when Professor Christie Warren, director of the Program in Comparative Legal Studies and Post-Conflict Peacebuilding, posted a selection of international internships, Gum applied to go Iraq, the only Middle Eastern country on the list.

“Almost 100 students have participated in international internships since the program began in 2002, but this is the first time anyone has gone to Iraq,” says Warren. “Kaylee’s experience was definitely unique, and she was the perfect match for the opportunity.”

Gum_Iraq_475x265For 12 weeks, Gum worked with two senior legal advisors in the Iraq Access to Justice Program, part of the United States Agency for International Development’s five-year effort to improve access to justice for vulnerable and disadvantaged people in that country.

“I worked on legal aid development within Iraq,” says Gum. “One of my primary projects was to conduct comparative research on legal aid systems in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and the United States. I drafted a document of best practices for delivery of legal aid in an ethical way.”

Her recommendations were provided to an Iraqi organization whose mission is to assist in the on-going development and sustainability of legal aid in the country. She also developed an assessment tool for legal aid clinics to ensure that those best practices are followed. Another part of her responsibilities included teaching the legal aid clinic staff how to write grants to fund their programs.

“I learned a lot about legal aid in general,” says Gum. “It was interesting to see both sides of the process. I had the opportunity to see how vulnerable groups can receive legal assistance and I got to see the inside working of the clinic. It was a perspective I wouldn’t get in the United States.”

Gum’s supervisors were thrilled with her accomplishments.

“Kaylee is thoughtful and analytical, and provided valuable input and feedback,” says Wilson Myers, deputy director of the Iraq Access to Justice Program. “In meetings with civil society, government, and international partners, Kaylee demonstrated professionalism and preparation and an impressive ability to communicate with stakeholders in both Arabic and English.”

The unrest that took place all summer in Iraq made Gum’s internship particularly challenging. She spent the first half of the summer living in Baghdad. During the second half, she was moved to Erbil, a city in Iraq’s northern Kurdish region. Baghdad was no longer safe, and concern mounted when Mosul and surrounding cities in the north fell to ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria). After careful assessment of the developing situation, and in consultation with her supervisors at the Law School and in Iraq, Gum made the decision to stay in the country to complete her internship.

“She handled herself impeccably in a very challenging environment,” says Warren. “Her experience is one of the best examples of why the Comparative Legal Studies and Post-Conflict Peacebuilding Program is so important and useful for the Law School. She benefited and the project benefited.”

“I never really feared for my personal safety and I never felt threatened,” says Gum of her summer experience. “I am very grateful for the opportunity and the contributions that made this experience possible.”

Gum’s internship was supported by a gift from Lois Critchfield, a donor who shares Gum’s interest in the Middle East.

“I’ve been involved with the College for more than 10 years, trying to help students focused on Middle East studies,” says Critchfield. “My long-time interest in the region goes back before Saddam Hussein. I had a career in the CIA, stationed in Jordan, and I made many visits to the embassy in Iraq. Iraq is a wonderful country, and I’m thrilled to be able to help students, like Kaylee, who are interested in helping the Middle East.”

Next summer, Gum will complete a required internship with the Air Force JAG Corps. After graduation, she will serve four years with the Air Force.

“I’d like to go back to the Middle East,” she says. “Ultimately, I want to work in international law.”

Read more about it: Kaylee Gum and other W&M law students who worked at projects around the globe in summer 2014 blogged about their experiences at law.wm.edu/voicesfromthefield. You can go directly to Kaylee’s blog here.

PSF Cornhole Tournament

wentworthby Christie Wentworth, Class of 2017

Sun, chili, and high-stakes competition. What more could you ask for on a Saturday afternoon? On September 6, the Law School’s Public Service Fund hosted its annual Cornhole Tournament and added a new spin to “spice” it up: a Chili Cookoff. What is even better about this event is that, like all PSF initiatives, the proceeds will help fund public service internships.

Cornhole 3Forty-five teams* participated in the tournament, which was structured in a single elimination bracket that left no room for mercy. The participants tossed with everything they had, and the championship game came down to one single, nerve-wracking point. Ultimately, The Finger That Bites came out on top. Kang He and Andy Iammarino (both current 3Ls) of the championship team—who also placed second in last year’s tournament—not only earned the honor of being this year’s champions, but they also received a $100 gift card to Paul’s Deli. How did this team have such strong showings two years in a row? According to victor Kang He, it all comes down to three basic principles: focus, follow-through, and fun. This team legacy will be graduating in the spring, though, so get ready. Next year’s crown is up for the taking!

Notwithstanding the intensity of the Cornhole tournament, the other competition of the day, the Chili Cookoff, may have been even more hotly contested! Students had the opportunity to try six different chilies and then vote on their favorite. In a demonstration of how close this battle really was, two teams tied for second with fifteen votes each. 1L Steve Mikulic’s “Mexi-Can” chili, however, came out strong with twenty-four votes. When asked about his secret ingredient, Steve reminded aspiring chefs that “not all spices cook the same”; chili enthusiasts should remember that spices have specific cooking times and temperatures. If you prefer to leave the cooking to people like Steve, however, just come out and try some yourself at next year’s event!

Cornhole 2 Cornhole 1

Look out for more posts about PSF’s events. In October they will be hosting a softball tournament and a Halloween party!

*Team names included: The A-Maize-ing Team, We So Corny, I Believe That We Won’t Win, 1L of a Couple, LawN Order, Shuck Dynasty, Corn To Be Wild, Torts Illustrated, and many more. Prepare to join in on the corniness yourself next fall as part of the W&M Law Class of 2018!

Click here to learn more about PSF through an interview with last year’s Business Manager, Liz Heron

Learn more about our Student Bloggers here.

The Cold Never Bothered Us Anyway

W&M Law’s 2014 Habitat for Humanity Spring Break Trip

by David Weilnau, Class of 2014

davidMy name is Dave Weilnau, and I’m a member of the class of 2014. I grew up in Green Lane, PA, and did my undergrad at Ursinus College in the Philadelphia area. I came to law school because I was interested in public service and saw the law as a vehicle for social justice. Three years later, I know I made the right decision. I lead Volunteer Service Corps, a public service organization at the law school. My dream job is to work in a legal aid office and provide free legal services to Virginia’s poor.

One of the best things about William & Mary law students is their commitment to public service. Each spring break, a student group called Volunteer Service Corps leads a squad of citizen lawyers to a (hopefully warm) Habitat for Humanity site to build some new houses, explore some new places, and make some new friends. This year, four of us made the journey: your humble author (2014), Summer Chu (2015), Rebecca Skrzypek (2015), and Elizabeth Buner (2016).

habitat 1

Our chosen site for 2014 was Sumter, South Carolina. Located near the center of the state, Sumter struggles with poverty, crime, and racial tensions. Fortunately, it is also blessed with a caring community that dreams of making Sumter a better place.

We arrived in Sumter on Sunday evening, March 2, and were quickly introduced to our hosts, the generous congregation and staff of the Church of the Holy Comforter, and were whisked away for a baked spaghetti dinner at the Salt & Light Church. Back at Holy Comforter, we made shameless use of the facility’s air hockey table and copy of Dance Dance Revolution before retiring for the evening.

We had a busy first day at the worksite. With the help of a group from Boston College, we framed the porch. But dark, forbidding clouds loomed on the horizon, and our supervisors spoke in hushed voices of the frigid weather to come. That afternoon, we watched in horror as the temperature dropped from seventy degrees to thirty in about two hours. Hard times were upon us.

The following morning, the work site was twenty-five degrees and windy. We had not packed for the temperatures that now confronted us. It was the kind of exposure that recalibrates your body’s sense of what cold is. But we had come to Sumter to build a house, and that was what we were going to do. Without any feeling in our extremities, we straightened the walls and began to install trusses. On Wednesday, a steady cold drizzle soaked us through. Nevertheless, it didn’t stop Summer, Rebecca, and Liz from building some of “the best T’s and corners” our supervisor had ever seen.

On Thursday, alas, the weather finally beat us. Driving rain made work at the site impossible. We spent the day cleaning a local homeless shelter and sorting cans at a local food bank. On Friday, amidst persistent precipitation, we did moving work at the Habitat ReStore. We returned to Williamsburg that evening cold, wet, tired, but triumphant.

I am extremely proud of the group we had this year. We were small in number, but adversity tested us and found us strong. To give up your spring break is one thing; to give it up to hit your numb fingers with a hammer twenty times is something else entirely. I am honored to have worked and spent the week with Summer, Rebecca, and Liz; despite the difficult conditions, they all remained positive and enthusiastic. This was my final trip with Volunteer Service Corps, and I leave with the comfort of knowing that the future of the organization is in good hands.

Kingdom v. Pigge — The Trial of the Big Bad Wolf

On Friday, November 15, 85 students from a local middle school visited the McGlothlin Courtroom for a program hosted by The Center for Legal and Court Technology (CLCT). The program, entitled “Fractured Fairytales,” consists of a mock trial in which all of the witnesses and parties are based on classic fairytale characters or creatures. The characters and their respective classic stories are each given an odd or idiosyncratic twist that creates a legal problem that is at the center of the mock trial. The students, at the end of the trial, served as the jury and determine the verdict where they found Pigge guilty of attempted murder.

3L Nandor Kiss as the Big Bad Wolf

3L Nandor Kiss as the Big Bad Wolf

Friday’s case, Kingdom v. Pigge, was a merging of the classic Big Bad Wolf and the Three Little Pigs story with the 1L Torts classic Katko v. Briney (the spring-loaded shotgun case). Mr. Wolfe, a relentless magazine salesman, simply would not leave Jack Pigge alone. Jack Pigge—the same Jack who previously cut down the beanstalk, killing the giant in the process—subsequently sets a trap for Mr. Wolfe, seriously injuring him in the process. The Kingdom brought attempted murder charges against Jack Pigge, who was claiming self-defense.

Fractured Fairy Tale Case

Fractured Fairytale Cast

CLCT will be organizing another Fractured Fairytale Trial during the Spring 2014 semester featuring guest appearances by faculty members for law school student viewing. For more information about Fractured Fairytales or CLCT, please contact Celeste Vaughn at ccvaug@wm.edu.

CLCT is an entrepreneurial public service organization at the College of William & Mary Law School and a joint initiative of William & Mary and the National Center for State Courts. CLCT’s mission is to improve the administration of justice through the use of technology.

Equal Justice Works Career Fair

by Bridget Claycomb, Class of 2016

Attending law school at William and Mary provides for a variety of public service and public interest opportunities, which makes exploring careers in public service convenient and enjoyable! Because Williamsburg is only two hours from Washington D.C, some of my fellow students and I were recently able to attend the Equal Justice Works Career Fair, just outside our nation’s capital, in Arlington, Virginia.

logoThe EJW Career Fair was held on a Friday and Saturday at the end of October. Over 100 employers from across the country were present and looking for folks who are passionate about public service/public interest. Needless to say, I met law students from all over the country who missed class, drove, bused or flew hundreds of miles just for the opportunity to attend the fair. Second and third year law students were abundant as they were able to apply for one-one interviews. 1Ls were fewer and far between as we were only allowed to attend the information sessions and the “table talks” which allow students looking for internships or jobs to connect with employers.

Attending the career fair on Friday was out of the question for me, since I had a Criminal Law class at 2pm on Friday and a luncheon with my scholarship donor before, but, because we live so close, the career fair did not have to be an “attend all or nothing” event. Saturday morning, my roommate and I got up around the normal time we wake up for school and headed up to the career fair. We arrived in plenty of time for the resume workshop and for the table talks

While I felt it didn’t make sense for me to attend two days at the fair, the few hours I spent allowed me to make connections with six different employers, ask questions about what they were looking for in prospective interns, and gain information on how to strengthen my summer internship applications. As a 1L, it was nice not to lose 48 hours of my week, but still be able to take advantage of a unique and beneficial career opportunity.

Learn more about our Student Bloggers here.

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.

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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.

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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

torts

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

Learn more about our Student Bloggers here.

What You Need to Know About PSF

by Bridget Claycomb, Class of 2016

liz herron

Liz Herron ’14

As a Public Service Admissions Ambassador, I sat down with PSF Business Manager Liz Herron (3L) to learn more about the Public Service Fund (PSF) and William and Mary’s commitment to public service and public interest law. PSF is a non-profit organization run by William and Mary Law Students. Many summer-employment opportunities in public service are unpaid. PSF provides fellowship assistance to students who choose to work in the public service sector, so students are able to take the jobs they want, not just the ones that pay.

Liz, were does PSF funding come from?

Herron: PSF holds fundraisers throughout the year, and then uses that money to fund student applicants working in public service positions.*

*In 2013, over $300,000 was raised to award summer fellowships to 108 students.

If I only attend one fundraiser event this school year, which one should I go to?

Herron: The Auction. We are surrounded by a lot of talented people. It is neat to see all the cool things people can do. Plus, the Auction raises most of our funds, and it’s a lot of fun!

How did you get interested in PSF?

Herron: When I first came to law school, I intended to work in Public Service, so PSF was the first club I joined. I liked how energetic the club officers were. I liked that it allowed me to do something that was immediately helpful to students. It gave me networking opportunities with the people in my class, and a chance to see what my classmates are interested in.

Do students need to work or want to work in public service in order to be a part of PSF?

Herron: No, anyone can be a part of PSF. PSF only funds students working in public service positions, but anyone can volunteer and go to the events. Everyone should be in PSF!

Herron ended the interview with a message for new and prospective students. She advised that PSF gives students relevant experience in a non-profit. PSF gives students a chance to get to know and have fun with classmates. PSF is a win/win because it’s great for your resume and law school experience, and it’s also great for your social life and balance. PSF is a great reminder that law school can be fun, and that our community is dedicated to public service.

Learn more about our Student Bloggers here.

Another Great Year at W&M Law

We’re had another great year here on South Henry Street. Watch this short two minute video and see some of the year’s highlights at William & Mary Law School!

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