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!

Where in the World are W&M Law Students This Summer?

by Elizabeth Cavallari and Rhianna Shabsin

Our students are working all over the country and the world – 21 states, DC, and 13 other countries!

The Law School has awarded public service fellowships totaling over $300,000 – the most ever awarded by the Law School – to 108 students for Summer 2013. These students are assisting 100 organizations nationally and internationally.

108 of our first- and second-year students will receive stipends from the school to work in public interest and government jobs over the summer. Of these, 18 will be working around the world on issues related to human rights and international law in connection with our Program in Comparative Legal Studies & Post-Conflict Peacebuilding in 13 countries (Argentina, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, China, Germany, Ghana, Italy, Japan, The Netherlands, Poland, Sierra Leone, South Africa, and Switzerland).

It’s easy to see why Business Insider named William & Mary Law the number one law school where students want to change the world! Click on the links in the message to see where these 108 students are interning this summer.

W&M Law Students Draft Report on Election Delays in 2012 for ABA Committee

by Election Law Society (Originally posted here on May 13, 2013)

In January 2013, the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Election Law Advisory Committee Chairs Trevor Potter of Caplin & Drysdale and John Hardin Young of Sandler Reiff Young & Lamb requested assistance from students in William & Mary Law School’sElection Law Society to research and draft a report on election delays in 2012. The society is the student arm of the Election Law Program. William & Mary law students Emily Lippolis ’14, Shanna Reulbach ’13, and Andrew McCoy ’13 researched and drafted the report under Professor Rebecca Green‘s supervision.

The report is a descriptive effort, drawing on media coverage and interviews with election officials to dissect when, where, and under what circumstances voters experienced delays on or before Election Day 2012. While the report does not itself endorse specific recommendations, the report surveys observations and suggested avenues for reform from prominent voting rights organizations, media outlets, and election officials. The Law School’s February 2013 Election Law Symposium also provided valuable input as the students prepared the report. The symposium, entitled “Long Lines? Bipartisan Solutions to Election Delays,” featured workshops with Virginia election officials and a panel populated by election lawyers and professionals, including Cleta Mitchell of Foley Lardner, Robert Bauer of Perkins Coie, election administration expert Doug Chapin, Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler, and University of Maryland voting technology expert Professor Paul Hernnson.*

Election Law SocietyProfessor Green, co-director of the Election Law Program, expressed great satisfaction with the project: “Shanna, Andy, and Emily put a tremendous amount of work putting together this very thorough report. Their superior research and writing abilities really shine through in the final product.” As to the report’s findings, Green noted, “This is an enormously complex problem with no one-size-fits-all solution. I think the goal of this report is to propel discussion towards making voting in this country as efficient as possible. William & Mary was honored to be part of this effort.”

The final report, unanimously approved by the ABA’s bipartisan Standing Committee on Election Law is available here (opens .pdf). The report has not been endorsed by the ABA’s House of Delegates, its policymaking body, and thus does not represent ABA policy.

*Participants in the symposium have not endorsed the ABA Election Delays Report nor taken part in its drafting.

Wills for Seniors

kimPatricia Kim is a member of the Class of 2013 at William & Mary Law School. She graduated from Duke University in 2007 with a degree in English and worked at the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division in D.C. before coming to Williamsburg. Patricia spent her 1L summer at NASA’s Office of Chief Counsel in Hampton, Virginia, and her 2L summer at the Securities and Exchange Commission in D.C. She will return to D.C. this fall with her fiancé and two dogs. 

I am so sad that I did not learn about the Wills for Seniors program until my third year of law school, while I was working for the Elder Law Clinic as a student practitioner. This is a one-day event where elderly citizens in the local community (including Hampton, Newport News, Yorktown, and Williamsburg) sign up in advance in order to have several types of documents drawn up for them pro bono. Clients may draw up basic wills, advance medical directives, powers of attorney, or all of the above. William & Mary Law students collaborate with Williams Mullen attorneys to gather information, fill in pro forma documents, and have them properly witnessed and notarized.

This service meets a crucial need in the local community, and clients are always so grateful to receive legal aid during this vulnerable time in their lives. Getting to know these clients never fails to remind me why I wanted to be a lawyer in the first place – to help people using skills I have acquired throughout my legal education.

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