BLSA’s Food Drive Extrava –CAN—za!

zimmermanby Liesel Zimmerman, Class of 2018

On the night of Wednesday, November 18th, 1L students stayed late after class to get work done. Now, this is nothing new; but unlike most nights, the students weren’t working in the library. Instead, they congregated in the Law School lobby to construct their canned food masterpieces for the Black Law Students Association’s Annual Thanksgiving Baskets Food Drive. Every year, sections of first-year students compete against other sections to collect canned goods and fashion them into the most creative, original, and impressive structures they can.

thanksgivingbasket4This year, the 1L class came out in full force to make sculptures that would blow the judges away. Teams drew inspiration from around the world, with one recreating the Berlin Wall, and another constructing the Eiffel Tower in a beautiful tribute to Paris. Others represented holidays: one team made a turkey of color-coordinating cans and another crafted a large cornucopia to celebrate Thanksgiving. Another team created a Christmas display, complete with Christmas lights, a tree, and a festive fireplace. Another team created nearly life-sized replicas of Darth Vader, Obi-wan Kenobi and Yoda in a Star Wars-themed exhibit titled “May the Torts be Wythe You.” Students and professors alike were amused by the way this section incorporated their professors as all of the different characters.

During the lunch hour on Thursday, judges walked around and looked over all of the structures, judging based on content (variety of foods, size and volume of the items, etc.) and creativity. They had three awards to bestow, with the grand prize winners receiving a pizza party and the ever-important bragging rights.

The “Most Creative” award went to “Can-dy Land,” a beautifully crafted recreation of the beloved childhood board game. Featuring whimsical locales such as the Chocolate Swamp, Ice Cream Sea, Sundae Summit and CAN-berry Castle, the bright colors and striking design made the display a sweet treat to behold. Not to mention the fact that the team brought in a cotton candy machine to serve cotton candy and create a fully immersive experience.


The grand prize winner, winning awards for both “Best Content” and “Judge’s Choice” was “We Americ-CAN End Hunger.” The impressive sculpture featured a map of the United States constructed of cans and food boxes, complete with a Mississippi River made from the blue tops of mayonnaise jars. On the left of the map stood a five-foot tall replica of the Golden Gate Bridge made of color-coordinating cereal boxes. On the right side was a creative rendition of the Capitol Building. Up against the wall was an American flag made from pasta boxes and red and white soup cans. Boxes of macaroni and cheese spelled out USA as the final touch to give this amazing creation its winning look.


Not only was the competition fun for all involved, but BLSA ultimately collected over 4,600 canned and boxed foods for those in need in the Williamsburg area. In this season of Thanksgiving, it is events like these that make students especially thankful to be a part of the William and Mary Law School family.

My section- "May the Torts be Wythe You"

My section- “May the Torts be Wythe You”

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PSF’s Halloween Party

zimmermanby Liesel Zimmerman, Class of 2018

On the night of October 31, the halls of William and Mary Law School were filled with ghosts and goblins celebrating All Hallows Eve at the Public Service Fund (PSF) Halloween Party! The annual event raises money to provide stipends for students who take unpaid summer jobs. Not only did law students get to help a worthy cause, but they had a frightfully good time in the process!

Members of PSF transformed the Law School lobby into an inviting party space that was both elegant and eerie. Costumed volunteers served Halloween-themed, while other volunteers tended to the DJ table and made sure the event was a “Thriller.” Twinkling orange lights and cobwebs were draped along the walls, and skeletons dangled from the chandeliers. Even George Wythe and John Marshall got in the spirit, as the faces of their busts were adorned with festive Halloween masks.

Shrieks of delight echoed through the building as students saw their friends dressed in all fashions of ghastly garb. For instance, the characters of the board game “Clue” attended, but even in a building full of law students, no one could figure out “whodunit.” Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg made an appearance, wearing her signature gown, bun, and glasses. The Queen of Hearts and Alice and Wonderland were there too, but thankfully, no one lost their head that night. Other attendees included the Avengers, Ghostbusters, Harry Potter, Russel from Up, Dr. Who, and Wonder Woman, among many others. People even showed off their legal humor, with a “Wild Tort” and The Bluebook making appearances as well.

One of the highlights of the night was the “Walk-Off” performed by the group dressed as characters from the movie Zoolander. The two characters strutted their stuff on the dance floor, performing the exact choreography as in the movie, and the audience erupted into uproarious applause. Their moves and costumes earned them the title of “Best Group Costume” in the costume competition. The “Best Individual Costume” award went to the student who dressed as Wolf Law Library’s beloved librarian, Steve. A ghoulishly good time was had by all. It showed that in the end, law school is not all that “scary” after all!

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Attend a Classmate’s Wedding

sniderby Abby Snider, Class of 2016

On October 17, I was lucky enough to attend the wedding of my close friend – and law school classmate – Sue Buyrn. I met Sue in the first couple weeks of our 1L year. We quickly bonded because, in addition to the fact she’s a genuinely awesome person, we are both members of the same sorority. Everyone at William & Mary Law knows Sue – she’s a positive, kind, and hilarious presence at the law school, with a wonky sense of humor.

Sue’s now-husband, Matt, proposed during our 2L year. She’s been busy juggling wedding planning and law school since then, which is not an easy feat. Earlier this fall of our 3L year, another close friend and I drove down to Sue’s bachelorette party in Charleston, SC – listening to the wedding playlist most of the way there and back – and spent a fun weekend with Sue’s sisters and high school and college friends. Sue’s wedding was so much fun, a true ode to the beautiful, homey, and fun families both she and Matt have. Being the Type-A planner law student that she is, every detail of her wedding was intricately and perfectly thought out.

In Charleston, SC at Sue’s bachelorette party.

In Charleston, SC at Sue’s bachelorette party.

Making friends like Sue, and getting to share some of life’s most important moments with those friends, is an often overlooked aspect of law school. I’ve developed close friendships here at William & Mary Law. Through the nervousness of 1L year, to surviving difficult classes, studying long hours during finals, and spending hours applying for jobs, your law school friends become some of the people you rely on most. Law school is an intense, crazy experience, and it is difficult for friends and family to truly relate to what you go through during law school. You can’t adequately explain to your high school friends the embarrassment of getting cold-called and having no idea what the answer is. Law school is all-consuming, and as lame as it is, most law students spend a majority of their time talking about law school (we can’t help it!). Sue’s wedding reinforced how amazing my William & Mary Law friends are, and in general, how great the student body is as a whole.

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Fall Formal

pembertonby Shevarma Pemberton, Class of 2018

I have to say, the 2015 Fall Formal was a success! My expectations were blown out of the park. The Student Bar Association (SBA) did an amazing job putting this event together.

My first impression of the event was very telling—when I arrived there was a line full of patrons waiting to enter the venue. In my experience, that is usually a good sign of a successful event. SBA clearly did a great job propagating the event and getting students interested. And the promise of a good event did not go unmet—I was thoroughly satisfied when I overcame the line hurdle and made my way into the party.

Immediately upon entering, I was faced with a wonderful spread of food, which was just what the doctor ordered. While getting my fill, I easily transitioned to the next order of business due to the live show that was underway. “The Right to Bear Arms” band had the crowd going with upbeat selections that were familiar tunes everyone could get down to. I really enjoyed the band’s performance, and it seemed everyone else did too. And the fun did not end with the band’s run. The music continued through the event DJ who really did his thing. The music was great, and the DJ led the dance floor in performing the respective dances to the songs. It was a spectacle and I thoroughly enjoyed the show.

In light of the stresses that we have all been immersed in as 1Ls, it was especially great to stand back and see that fellow classmates were letting lose and having a good time. And on a more personal note, I was happy that I pulled myself away from midterm studies to relax and have a fun night. For me, the event was a great success in more respects than one.

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Summer at the Puller Veterans Benefits Clinic

swinkby Austin Swink, Class of 2017

This past summer, I worked at The Lewis B. Puller, Jr. Veterans Benefits Clinic at William & Mary Law School. This clinic specializes in providing pro bono legal aid to veterans. The Puller Clinic primarily focuses on the practice areas of disability compensation with the Department of Veterans Affairs and discharge upgrades with the armed services. The clinic’s reputation has grown throughout the legal community and the nation. This is well earned. The clinicians and students at the clinic work very hard to help these deserving veterans.

One of the most exciting developments at the Puller Clinic this summer was the kickoff of Military Mondays. Military Mondays is a partnership with Starbucks in which the Puller Clinic staff hold legal consultation meetings with veterans at a local Starbucks location. The veterans at these meeting make appointments to receive free legal advice regarding their disability compensation claims. More information on Military Mondays can be found here.

I have found the work at the Puller Clinic to be both personally and professionally rewarding. The veterans we work with are not new to the VA claims process. They have often endured rejection, frustration, and confusion. While the men and women at the Department of Veteran Affairs are working to help veterans, the system is in need of reform. That discussion is for another time and place, but the reality veterans face is enough to motivate law students and clinicians to take action.

The first lesson students learn at the Puller Clinic is that the men and women served at the Puller Clinic are not victims. They are hardworking men and women who spent time performing a duty that over nine in ten of us will never personally experience. They sacrificed, and the result was the endurance of the greatest nation on earth and the continued advancement of human freedom in the globe. This is no small accomplishment, and in return we owe them a great debt. That debt can never be repaid. However, by serving our veterans through programs like the Puller Clinic we can do our part to honor their service by serving them.


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Christian Legal Society

zimmermanby Liesel Zimmerman, Class of 2018

The Christian Legal Society (CLS) is a student organization dedicated to providing opportunities for members to grow in their faith while learning what it looks like to be a Christian in the legal field. CLS is open to people of all denominations, and welcomes anyone interested in simply learning more about who God is.

There are several ways to get involved in CLS. Every week, the fellowship comes together for a time of student-led worship, prayer, and Bible Study. After reading a Bible passage, group discussion centers on relevant and relatable topics that teach us how we can praise God in our day-to-day lives as law students. By building a solid foundation on scripture, students can develop a worldview that will help us stand firm in our beliefs as we enter the legal profession.

In addition to the large group Bible Study setting, members can also choose to be part of a “Small Group.” These gatherings of 3-4 men or women meet once a week to either read a book or study scripture together. Small Groups give people the opportunity to get to know each other on a more personal level, and to serve as a support system for each other. These are people to “do life with,” who seek to bear each other’s burdens and to cheer each other on. The aim of Small Groups is for students to grow closer to one another while we grow closer to God, and to have fun in the process!


On Wednesday mornings, members meet bright and early at 7:30am for a time of prayer before classes start. Not only do we pray for personal prayer requests, but also for the faculty, staff, and students of the law school, as well as the Williamsburg community. Outside of these weekly meetings, CLS also holds a variety of events to give students fun things to do to get their minds off of their classwork! The organization hosts such events as the Welcome Back Barbeque at the Gradplex, and Pumpkin Picking in the fall.


All of the many aspects of CLS create a welcoming environment for students to grow and glorify God as they pursue the study of law. Law and justice are important to us, and they are important to God as well. As the psalmist writes in Psalm 33:5, “The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of His unfailing love.”

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The First Month of Law School and the 2015-2016 Supreme Court Preview

borkby Emily Bork, Class of 2018

These past initial weeks as a 1L have been filled with all things new: a new city, new faces, new classmates, new subjects, new terminology, and most importantly, a new way of learning. Having only about five weeks of law school under my belt, I’ve grown more accustomed to tackling the course work and readings, but still face some uncertainty as to how it will all come together by the end of the semester, and even by the end of my 1L year. While I’ve been initiated into the highly anticipated cold-calling of the Socratic Method (and survived!), there are still some aspects of my 1L year that seem slightly nerve-wracking, especially outlining and prepping for exams.

All that being said, I come to find myself loving the law and my legal studies more and more each day. Maybe that’s totally nerdy for me to say, but it’s true! My passion for the law was re-affirmed when I attended William & Mary’s incredible 2015-2016 Supreme Court Preview this past weekend. Being able to listen to expert panels give their commentary and predictions regarding the cases that the Supreme Court will hear this term was truly an amazing experience. I also watched a moot court oral argument of a case that the Supreme Court will decide on this term concerning possible 1st Amendment issues of the subsidization of political speech in relation to public unions. An impressive and intellectually robust panel discussion followed afterwards regarding trends in the Supreme Court including the balance between interpretation of federal statutes and the need for judicial restraint. Even though I will admit that some of the topics were pretty complex, I found myself trying to dissect and analyze each of the speaker’s arguments. Halfway through my mental analysis of the panel’s discussion of Equal Protection and Due Process, I realized that I really am beginning to think in a different and exciting way.

Listening to the panels of scholars during the Supreme Court Preview inspired me to continue asking questions, analyzing, and trying to search for the answers. I know this semester will have its twists and turns along the way, but one thing’s for sure—I can’t wait to see where this journey will take me!

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Public Service Fund: A Fun Way to Get Involved

willisby Blake Willis, Class of 2018

Law school can be a stressful time, especially in the first few weeks. You get a lot of information thrown at you, on top of trying to read for classes and get involved. Not everything about it has to be stressful, however. The Public Service Fund (PSF) is a great way to get involved at the law school and have fun at the same time.

PSF is a student-run organization which gives funds to students who are working in public interest and public service internships during the summers. While these internships are all great experiences for students to learn and provide valuable experience in a variety of different subject areas, including state and local governments, and legal services to the underprivileged, which are often unpaid. Students working in these areas are encouraged to apply to PSF for aid in order to help them to participate in their summer programs.

PSF holds events throughout the year to raise money which it then donates at the end of each year to students working in these areas over the summers. These events are a great way to have fun during law school and meet other students, and faculty. Some of the events that PSF holds include: a trivia night, chili cook-off and cornhole tournament, softball tournament, Halloween party, singer/songwriter competition, and auction. The events are run by student (and faculty) volunteers, and span throughout the year.

There are a number of different ways to get involved with PSF, all of which are important. Like every organization, it is run by a board of students; however, the majority of the organization is comprised of general members and volunteers who participate in the panning and running of the events.

To date, the biggest two events have been the trivia night and cornhole tournament, but the biggest event every year is the Auction, which takes place in the spring. Both events were very well attended and everyone at W&M is looking forward to the next events: the softball tournament and the Halloween party.

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ADR Tryouts

newtonby Dakota Newton, Class of 2018

Shortly after arriving at William & Mary, I learned about the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) team. For those of you who do not know, William & Mary is the home of several competitive teams that focus on honing students’ practical legal skills. These teams take part in competitions around the country, seeking to negotiate, arbitrate and persuasively argue for their fictional clients against students from other schools. Each team focuses on a specific legal skill set, with the ADR team focusing on three particular areas: arbitration, mediation, and negotiation.

Although I am no great negotiator and prefer writing to public speaking, I was interested by the ADR team and decided to go out on a limb and try out for the team. It turned out to be quite the experience. The tryouts are spread out over several rounds during which students must demonstrate their skills in arbitration and negotiation. In the first round, students are put into pairs and asked to collaborate with their partners to devise a creative solution to for difficult, yet humorous, fact patterns.

For the arbitration section of tryouts, my partner and I were assigned the job of representing MTV in a contract dispute with the cast members of Jersey Shore. We were given a general overview of the dispute and a few confidential facts from which we needed to plan out a 15 minute presentation to a panel of arbiters. We also needed to prepare a rebuttal after opposing counsel’s presentation and be ready field any questions that the judges might ask during our presentation. While planning, we had to be very honest about the strength of our position and make plans for how to excuse our weak points. Putting together a solid defense of our position required several hours of planning and multiple rehearsals to be sure that our thoughts sounded as good out loud as they looked on paper.

On the night of the tryout, my partner and I were nervous, but felt prepared. The opposing side presented first and did a fantastic job, doing nothing to calm my nerves. When it was our turn to speak, I gripped my podium, took a deep breath and began my arguments, “May it please the panel…”. It was a difficult beginning, but as we settled into our argument the planning and rehearsal kicked in and our presentation went smoothly. Questions from the panel and rebuttal were exciting as they required me and my partner to think on our feet and produce a polished argument without having time to consider all of our options. In the end, the judges congratulated both sides on a well-argued evening and we left happy, contented that our planning and practice had paid off. I had left my comfort zone and enjoyed the experience thoroughly.

So what is the moral of the story here? Get out and try out for a competition team! The Moot Court, Transaction, and Trial Teams all have tryouts in the near future and would love to see you there. The experience is worth your time regardless of whether or not you end up making the team. Especially if speaking in front of people makes you nervous.

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The 1L George Wythe Society of Citizen Lawyers Tour

pembertonby Shevarma Pemberton, Class of 2018

When I first moved to Williamsburg, I thought a tour would be a great way to delve into the Williamsburg history and community life. On September 8, 2015, I finally got a taste when participated in the 1L George Wythe Citizen Lawyers Tour event. This event brought the tour to me, and I could not have been more excited. It was nice to see a sizeable group of students who were also interested. The group was split between two tour guides, and then we were off!

Fortunately for me, we began the tour at 6:30pm when it was still light out George Wythe Lessonbut not that warm. I was completely unprepared to tour in the hot Williamsburg summer weather, as I happened to be wearing black from top to bottom. But all black in the Williamsburg summer heat did not seem to be a challenge for everybody.

The tour began, quite fittingly, with the George Wythe House. There, we were treated to a bit of history about the first American law professor and the first professor at William & Mary Law School. This treat was especially delightful because it was brought to us by a gentleman in colonial garb. He graciously agreed to take a selfie with me!Selfie

The next stop was the St. George Tucker House. There, we learned about another public servant who left his mark as a William & Mary law professor, and who also became a judge in Virginia.

The tour group then proceeded to the courthouse where many were brought to justice by pillory. I also learned a fun fact. I was aware that, as a law student, I would soon have to take and pass the bar in order to be admitted to the practice of law. What I did not know, was the origins of the term. What I learned on this tour was that the idea originated from the fact that, in colonial times, only lawyers could be Court House“called to the bar”—a physical bar in the courtroom. Today, our “call to the bar” is a written exam that inducts us into the practice of law and permits us to practice in the courts.

Our next stop on the tour was the Bruton Parish Episcopal Church, which was built in the eighteenth century, and I believe still stands on much of that centuries-old structure—Churchdown to the glass in the windows. It was the first Anglican church in this country.

The tour ended at the Wren Building, which is the oldest college building in the country. There, we were treated to some food and drinks, but I think the best treat of all was a speech from our beloved Dean Douglas. The biggest takeaway from his speech was that our legal education is a tool box, and that we need to start thinking about what we want to do with that tool box. I was definitely inspired to look inward. I have already drawn from that idea in making decisions about my approach to the law school process.

All in all, I noted a lot of “oldest” and “first” in my tour. There is definitely a lot of history here and the tour served to whet my appetite for more of what Colonial Williamsburg has to offer. It was also a great opportunity to break away from the studies and enjoy a relaxing walk while making new connections and expanding on old ones. The George Wythe Citizen Lawyers organization and the Alumni Affairs Office did an amazing job putting this event together!

Learn more about our Student Bloggers here.

2015-16 Student Bloggers

The Admission Office is lucky to have a number of student bloggers lending their writing talents to us by posting about their law school experiences throughout the year. 

Learn more about them below!

borkMy name is Emily Bork, and I’m a 1L from Buffalo, New York. I attended Niagara University where I received my BA in Spanish with minors in Law and Jurisprudence, International Studies, and Latin American Studies. I spent my summers throughout college interning in the private legal sector and hope to gain experience in the public sector and government. One of the many things that attracted me to William & Mary is the DC Semester Externship Program and the opportunity to work and study in our nation’s capital. I am interested in learning more about immigration law and look forward to participating in the various international legal opportunities that William & Mary has to offer! [Read more...]

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