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.

Life in the ‘Burg

For a prospective law student, there is a lot to consider when choosing where to study. Just as important as bar passage rates and employment data is the quality of life! Williamsburg has some of the best features of a small college town and a big city – enough that the New York Times named it one of 52 Places to Go in 2019! 2L Briana Jackson offers some of her experiences living and studying in Williamsburg as a law student.

Briana Jackson gives tips on law school research

Briana Jackson, 2L

Williamsburg is a charming city with deeply rooted history. When walking through Colonial Williamsburg, you will see beautiful horses, cobble stone walkways and historical interpreters in costume depicting daily Colonial life! Beyond the history and museums, Williamsburg and the surrounding area offer many places to eat, have fun, and relax.

There are countless restaurants, from mom and pop restaurants to chain-food eateries. A quick walk from the law school is Merchants Square, which houses some staples in the William & Mary culture – Cheese Shop and Aromas will forever be two of the most popular locations to grab some food or study for a few hours. Breads ends and House from Cheese Shop is highly sought after by current students and alums alike. Regardless of what you’re craving, Williamsburg probably has something that will hit the spot!

The Cheese Shop in Merchants Square is a university staple

The Cheese Shop in Merchants Square is a university staple

Beyond the surplus of food options in the area, there are many ways to unwind and take a break from the books. If you are an adrenaline junky or just like to enjoy the food and drinks at an amusement park like myself, Busch Gardens is just a short drive away. Busch Gardens in Williamsburg is European theme with nine villages centered around six countries to visit. The park offers roller coasters, rides, and games. If you like being by the water, Williamsburg is about an hour and fifteen minutes away from Virginia Beach and forty-five minutes away from smaller beaches in Newport News! If you are looking for a getaway weekend, Williamsburg is also near Richmond, Virginia. In an hour drive, you can be surrounded by the business of city living. Long weekends could put you in Washington, D.C., the Blueridge Mountains, Shenandoah National Park, or the Eastern Shore really quickly!

While there are many neighboring cities to keep William & Mary students busy, most students spend their weekends locally in Williamsburg. A typical weekend in Williamsburg for me involves going to the Movie Tavern with some friends or staying in and watching Netflix. On Saturday mornings I go to the Farmer’s Market in Colonial Williamsburg’s Merchant Square to pick out fresh flowers. Saturday evenings I typically hang out at Green Leafe Café or the College Delly on Richmond Road. This area is an excellent place to hang out with fellow law students and meet other students at William & Mary graduate and undergraduate campuses. Williamsburg is a close-knit and welcoming community!

Briana Jackson is a 2L from Leesburg, Virginia. She graduated from Christopher Newport News University in 2016 with a degree in Political Science. At the law school, she is involved with the Black Law Students Association, the Public Service Fund, and the Women’s Law Society; she currently serves on the staff of the Journal of Race, Gender, and Social Justice (formerly the Journal of Women and the Law), and spent last summer working at the Fairfax County District Court office.