First Annual Friendsgiving Celebration

brownby Cathy Brown, Class of 2017

Since Thanksgiving is approaching, I want to say how thankful I am for the sense of community at William & Mary Law School, and specifically within my “firm,” Section 13.

What, you might ask, is a firm?  In the weeks before the 1L class arrived on campus, the Law School sorted us into “firms,” or sections of approximately twelve students.  We have all of our 1L classes with our firms, with our Legal Practice class consisting solely of this small group of twelve.

As most pre-law students probably know, there’s an ugly rumor that law students are ruthless and will stop at nothing to sabotage their classmates in an effort to get a better grade.  With this in mind, I arrived at school with pretty low expectations for my firm-mates.  I was hoping we could at least reach a level of tolerance so maybe – just maybe – I wouldn’t have to watch my back every single minute of the semester.

Fortunately, I couldn’t have been more wrong about my firm, or about the William & Mary community in general.  Everyone here is incredibly nice and really wants me to succeed, and nobody shows this more than the other students in my firm.  My whole section has become friends, and we’ve formed a great support system for each other throughout the past few months.  We help each other get through the week, whether it’s by loaning a charger for a dying laptop, going for takeout when we simply don’t have energy to make dinner, or sharing funny links on Facebook as a study break.  Of course, we also meet up on weekends for dinner, drinks, or a trip to a local pumpkin patch.

This past weekend, however, was by far the most fun I’ve had with my firm.  Weeks ago, we began planning “Friendsgiving,” which, in case you couldn’t guess, is a Thanksgiving dinner with friends.  Since most of us are going home to our families for Thanksgiving itself, we wanted to have an early celebration as a group.  Although we’re all busy with schoolwork and prepping for finals, each of us took time out of our busy schedules to make something to share and to relax with our friends

Friendsgiving buffet

Friendsgiving buffet

One brave soul offered to host and cook a turkey big enough for eighteen people (our entire firm, plus significant others)!  The rest of us contributed side dishes and desserts, ranging from homemade sourdough bread to mashed potatoes, and honey-baked ham to cranberry stuffing.  Needless to say, we were all pretty stuffed by the end of the night!

My contribution: apple pie and pumpkin cream pies

My contribution: apple pie and pumpkin cream pies

Although all the food was delicious, my favorite part of Friendsgiving wasn’t the green bean casserole or cornbread.  Instead, it was the company.  I’m so grateful that my firm bonded so quickly to form a “law school family,” and I’m thankful that I can share my law school experience with all of these great people.

So, until next year (yes, we’ve already decided to make this an annual event!), Happy Friendsgiving!

Section 13, aka: The best firm at the Law School

Section 13, aka: The best firm at the Law School

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Excursions to Waller Mill Park

satiraby John Satira, Class of 2017

For success in law school, I have learned that scheduling free time for myself is important. Without time to relax and have fun, I would absolutely drive myself crazy!

Personally, I find a lot of enjoyment in physical activity. Back home in western Pennsylvania, I regularly visited local parks to run, hike, and bike their trials. Since coming to Williamsburg, I became determined to keep that pastime in my life. Thankfully, I found a wonderful park located only about a ten-minute drive away from the law school: Waller Mill Park.

My first trip to Waller Mill Park was purely to explore. After paying for my parking pass ($2), I spotted the park’s 286-acre lake, the Waller Mill Reservoir. The docks had a variety of canoe and kayaks for visitors to rent, and there was even a fishing pier. Although I was intrigued, I was not dressed for a day on the water, so I passed on the opportunity to head onto the lake and headed toward the trails for hiking.

waller mill 1My first trail was the Bayberry Nature Trail. A little under a mile in length, I enjoyed the simplicity of the Bayberry Nature Trail, but I definitely had the time and energy to check out another trail. I then made the trek to the Lookout Tower Trail, which was much more challenging. The trail was almost three miles long with varying elevation. The trail gets its name because it contains a tower overlooking the Waller Mill Reservoir and that tower offers a spectacular view. The rest of the trail is also beautiful with plenty of scenery to enjoy. Upon completing the Lookout Tower Trail, I headed home, very happy with my first Waller Mill Park experience.

My subsequent trips to Waller Mill Park have been for runs on the bike trail. Nicely tucked into the wooded forest, the bike trail is a two-mile, asphalt trail that is perfect for running wallermill 2and biking. Two miles is on the shorter side for a bike trail, but the scenery is beautiful, so I did not mind doubling back on the trail to up my mileage. On warmer days, the shade from the trees above the bike trail can make any run more enjoyable.

Before the weather gets too cold, my next trips to Waller Mill Park will involve some of the other activities available. First on the list is kayaking. Visitors can rent a kayak or canoe for $5 per hour, and I cannot wait to explore that giant lake. Also, if my family ever visits with our dog, I will definitely be going to the dog park that is available!

There are plenty of other aspects of the park that I have not yet been able to explore (including a disc golf course). Want to learn more about Waller Mill Park? You can check out its website here.

Learn more about our Student Bloggers here.

1L Tour of Colonial Williamsburg

satiraby John Satira, Class of 2017

I have always considered myself a history buff. I loved going to museums as a child, I enjoyed history classes in high school, and I majored in history in college. In a decision that surprised absolutely no one, I accepted an offer to join one of the most historical law schools in the country: the Marshall-Wythe School of Law. However, during the first few weeks of classes, I was so busy adjusting to life as a law student that I did not have the opportunity to explore and learn about historic Colonial Williamsburg on my own.

Thankfully, William & Mary offered a guided tour for law students to experience the vast history of the Williamsburg community. The event, sponsored specifically for 1L students by the George Wythe Society of Citizen Lawyers, involved an informational stroll around Colonial Williamsburg followed by a reception in the Sir Christopher Wren Building on the William & Mary campus. As if my love of history was not enough to encourage me to attend, Dean Davison Douglas himself was joining the 1L students, so I knew that it would be a worthwhile excursion.

04The event’s attendees were divided into different groups, and we were each led through Colonial Williamsburg by a very energetic and knowledge tour guide. Our tour guide was not alone in guiding the tour, as we met a few colonial reenactors who shared information as well! Some of my favorite informational tidbits include:

  • In colonial times, twice-convicted criminals would not only spend time in the stocks, where their neck and hands would be locked between two planks of wood, but their earlobes would also be nailed to the planks. Ouch!
  • During the Civil War, a Williamsburg citizen with no military rank regularly ordered soldiers to protect the town at all costs. But she was not concerned with her own safety; instead, she believed that Williamsburg was essential in founding the United States and that it must be protected at all costs.
  • Grave robbers that were caught digging in a Colonial Williamsburg cemetery in search of a Masonic treasure map were a partial inspiration for the Nicholas Cage movie National Treasure.

06The tour ended with a presentation by the George Wythe Society featuring Dean Douglas in the Wren Building, and nice reception followed. There was plenty of food and drink for all attendees. During this time, I was able to meet some more of classmates, and I also talked with 2L and 3L students from the George Wythe Society, who really piqued my interest in getting involved with the group.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my evening on the George Wythe Society Tour. I was finally exposed to the great history of Williamsburg, I got to interact with my fellow 1L classmates, and had a great dinner. What more could you ask for?

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BLSA Talent Show

by Philip Lecky, Class of 2015, and Christie Wentworth, Class of 2017

On Thursday, September 18, 2014, the Black Law Students Association hosted a talent show at the Williamsburg Regional Library. It was an opportunity for BLSA to start off the year by showing our visibility and prominence as an organization, and to bring people of diverse backgrounds together. The description of the event promised that the judges would not be “anywhere near as cruel and terrible as Simon,” but even if Simon Cowell had attended this talent show I don’t think he would have found much to criticize.

IMG_1860The Law School community, the undergraduate community, and the greater Williamsburg community were all intricately involved in making the talent show a grand success. Talents such as drummers, musicians, dancers, and spoken word artists graced the stage to exhibit their respective abilities. After each performance, the “not-so-cruel” judges—2L Brett Tensfeldt, 2L Shaina Salman, and Professor Griffin—provided their insightful and humorous commentary for the audience’s enjoyment.

With the diversity and quality of talent, the judges had their work cut off for them in eventually picking a spoken word artist to take the grand prize. After some deliberation, thIMG_1823e judges dubbed Greg Marinelli the winner. Greg, who had brought the audience to tears with his powerful spoken word performance, was both a well-deserving and humble victor.

In all, the night was a success for BLSA, the performers, and the students that had the opportunity to attend. President Matt Kemelek says BLSA intended for this event to serve several main purposes: to promote unity within the Law School, to establish a bond with the undergraduate community, to raise funds for BLSA’s community service objectives, and to help support travel expenses for group members to represent W&M BLSA at Regional and National Conventions.

IMG_1836Job well done to BLSA, the performers, the judges, and the audience for an event that is sure to be remembered for a long time!

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Constitutional Law Star Speaks in Annual Cutler Lecture

graham bryantby Graham Bryant, Class of 2016

William & Mary Law is no stranger to a variety of illustrious speakers on all aspects of the law. From the annual Supreme Court Preview to myriad guest lecturers the various student organizations bring in each year, students at William & Mary often find themselves faced with the difficult decision of with which speaker to spend their lunch hour on a given day.

Among the most distinguished of William & Mary’s speakers are those called upon to address the faculty and students during the law school’s annual endowed lectures. And Kenji Yoshino, the Chief Justice Earl Warren Professor of Constitutional Law at New York University School of Law, did not disappoint when he presented a talk entitled “Constitutional Factfinding: The Case of Same-Sex Marriage” during the 2014 Cutler Lecture on September 23.

Yoshino, a leading advocate for marriage equality and an anti-discrimination law scholar, was originally invited to deliver last year’s Cutler Lecture, but an unexpected snow storm that closed the university meant that Yoshino had no one to address—despite having already arrived in Williamsburg.

Thanks to the foresight of scheduling the 2014 lecture during a warm September, the Harvard, Oxford, and Yale Law graduate (who is also a Rhodes Scholar), presented his views on the distinction between law and fact as it relates to the immediate constitutional and social question of same-sex marriage.

10629287_755608304504220_3172313010524199479_oOn the surface, law and fact appear plainly different, Yoshino observed. Law is articulated by courts according to controlling precedent and subject to de novo review on appeal. Facts are discovered by a fact-finder—judge or jury, depending on the case—and are reviewed on appeal with clear error deference.

But two types of facts are addressed by courts, according to Yoshino—and this is where the law/fact distinction begins to blur. Courts make findings of adjudicative facts—the “whodunit” facts of a case, such as the fact that Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, the Prop 8 plaintiffs in California, were denied a marriage license.

In addition, courts can also make findings of legislative facts—the broad social facts not particular to a given case. For example, a court could determine that marriage is, at its core, about procreation.

The catch, according to Yoshino, is that both legislative and adjudicative facts are facts found by the court and subject to clear error review, even though only adjective facts are typically determined through the adversarial process of a trial. Legislative facts, on the other hand, are typically found by judge via non-adversarial means, such as the judge’s own research or amicus briefs.

The solution, Yoshino concluded, to the legislative fact problem is to step away from the pure distinction between law and fact, and to instead view the two on a continuum. Likewise, Yoshino argued that legislative facts should be established through adversarial testing, like a trial, and be subject to a new standard of review between clear error and de novo.

Intrigued? Good. Confused? That’s to be expected. At this point, it’s okay not to understand the fine points of the doctrines Professor Yoshino covered in his lecture. I’m a second-year law student, and I still didn’t follow his argument completely.

For a prospective student at William & Mary Law, the important take-away from this overview of the 2014 Cutler Lecture is that William & Mary allows students to engage directly with some of the top scholars on bleeding-edge issues in the law.

Even if you aren’t interest in a particular area of the law yet, speakers like Yoshino will help you explore new issues and begin to develop your views on them. And if you disagree with a speaker, that’s even better—William & Mary is a place where enlightening and respectful debate is encouraged among faculty, students, and visiting speakers.

The James Goold Cutler Lectureship was established in 1927 by James Goold Culter of Rochester, New York, to provide an annual lecture at William & Mary, the nation’s oldest law school, by “an outstanding authority on the Constitution of the United States.”

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William & Mary Law Takes on The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge!

lennonby Kate Lennon, Class of 2017

What do law students do for fun you ask? Well dump buckets of ice water on their professors’ heads of course. William & Mary Law School professors took on the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge by challenging the students to match their donation of $500. In return, the students would be able to dump the buckets on the professors. The Law School Community ended up raising more than $1,000 for the cause! On August 28th, the ceremonial dumping occurred!

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has become a nationwide phenomenon in order to raise awareness for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Dean Douglas wore a Lou Gehrig Yankees shirt in honor of the professional baseball player who suffered from and brought awareness to the disease. Dean Douglas also took part in the event by getting a bucket of ice water dumped on his head as well! Needless to say, being a spectator to the event was great! It looked a little something like this…

ice bucket

Even as a 1L, two of the professors that partook in the event were professors for my current classes! It was amusing to watch. Little events like this instantly bring a sense of comfort from feeling that you are part of a community. I think you know you’re in the right place when you feel that sense of comfort. It was a great experience for my first couple weeks of law school!

If you want to check out the dumping for yourself, watch the video below!

Learn more about our Student Bloggers 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.

2014-15 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!

liz berryLiz Berry, Class of 2016

My name is Liz Berry, and I am a 2L from Westfield Center, Ohio. I came to William and Mary directly after graduating from Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio. With a double major in History and Political Science and a Pre-law minor, I was certain I wanted to attend law school. I spent my 1L summer at the Ohio Attorney General, Education Division. At the law school, I’m a member of the William and Mary Law Review, part of the Honor Council, a Student Admissions Ambassador, and a Graduate Fellow. I’m interested in civil litigation and regulatory work. [Read more...]

William & Mary Law School Wins 2014 Legal Food Frenzy

Governor Terry McAuliffe (left) and Attorney General Mark Herring (right) stand with representatives from the William & Mary VBA Student Council at a reception in July. The school collected 4,961 pounds of food for those in need during the eighth annual Legal Food Frenzy.Photo courtesy of the Virginia Bar Association

Governor Terry McAuliffe (left) and Attorney General Mark Herring (right) stand with representatives from the William & Mary VBA Student Council (l to r; Phil Harvey, Graham Bryant, and Sue Buyrn) at a reception in July. The school collected 4,961 pounds of food for those in need during the eighth annual Legal Food Frenzy.
Photo courtesy of the Virginia Bar Association

Congrats to William & Mary Law School’s chapter of the Virginia Bar Association! Due to their hard work, William & Mary took home the Attorney’s General Cup after collecting nearly 5,000 pounds of food during the eighth annual Legal Food Frenzy.

The Virginia Attorney General’s office, the Young Lawyers Division of the Virginia Bar Association (VBA), and the Federation of Virginia Food Banks partner for the Food Frenzy to see who in Virginia’s legal community can collect the most food for food banks  during two weeks in April.

William & Mary Law School won the law school division, with other categories including law firms and government and public service legal agencies. This year, over 1.4 million pounds were raised.

For the full news story, written by student blogger, Graham Bryant, click here.

See the other award winners on the Federation of Virginia Food Banks’ website.

Summer Experiences: Circuit Court in MD

cooperMatthew Cooper is originally from Elkton, Maryland.  He earned his B.A. from Virginia Tech in 2013 with his major in Political Science.  As a 2L, Matt will be working on the staff of the William & Mary Business Law Review and as a member of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Team.  Matt is currently interested in the fields of contract law and general business litigation, including both construction and government contracts.

After seven years of exposure to the law and life inside a private-practice firm, I entered my first year of law school with the goal of obtaining a judicial internship.  Being familiar with the process of an individual first obtaining legal representation and then finally having their dispute either settle outside of court or litigated in court, instilled in me the desire for gaining knowledge of how the process works from beginning to end in the court system.  As a result, I have spent my summer as a judicial intern for the Honorable Jane Cairns Murray at the Circuit Court for Cecil County in Maryland.

The experience and skills I have gained as a judicial intern for Judge Murray have been unbelievably rewarding.  As a judge at the state trial level, Judge Murray oversees a wide range of both civil and criminal litigation matters.  Among the most common areas of law that I have been exposed to in Judge Murray’s chambers include family law, criminal law, and estates and trusts.  The internship has been a phenomenal supplement to my first-year of law school, as I have been able to work on complex legal issues that I spent my first year of law school learning and studying.

From my first day on the job, Judge Murray has demonstrated complete confidence in my legal research and writing abilities.  I have drafted countless memoranda, and I have even drafted an Opinion on a complex civil procedure issue surrounding a riparian rights dispute on the Chesapeake Bay.  I have also had the opportunity to observe voir dire and the interviewing of potential jurors before a criminal jury trial, as well as assisting in the formulation of jury instructions in accordance with the Maryland Criminal Pattern Jury Instructions.  When I am not conducting legal research or drafting memoranda and Orders, I spend a significant portion of time in court observing trials and assisting Judge Murray on a myriad of different areas of the law.  Being able to view how different lawyers litigate, including how they formulate opening statements, motions, and closings, and then being able to discuss with the Judge exactly what she was thinking and seeing on the bench has been a truly invaluable experience.  The skills and knowledge that I have obtained as a judicial intern will be helpful as I enter my second-year at William & Mary and begin my fall externship with Kaufman & Canoles.

 

A Recent Grad Looks Back

by Laura Vlieg, Class of 2014

Laura Vlieg graduated from W&M Law School this May with the class of 2014. Prior to law school she attended Loyola University Chicago completing majors in Political Science and International Studies, and then worked for a year with an aviation law firm in Washington, DC. This August, she will be starting a position with Obadal, Filler, MacLeod & Klein in Alexandria, VA. 

GraduationPicWell, three years have passed, and I am now the proud owner of a very fancy piece of paper conferring my J.D., and a pretty cool hat to boot.

My time at William & Mary Law was both challenging and rewarding, and I think I will always look back with a little bit of nostalgia, and a lot of relief that I not only survived law school, but thrived. My successes were due largely in part to the wonderful people and the support offered here at W&M, and I will always be happy that I chose such a supportive environment to spend these past three academically intense years.

I am now in the thick of studying for the bar exam, and there are certainly days where my fellow graduates and I throw up our hands and say “Why am I doing this to myself?!” However, I quickly remember the reason when I look ahead to August, when I will be starting my new job in the DC area. I came into law school hoping to work toward a career in aviation law, even though I knew it would be difficult to break into such a niche field in a tough economy. I can happily report that come August, I will be starting a job with a small firm in Alexandria, VA specializing in regulatory work in the field of aviation.

In addition to giving me a solid education and opportunities that helped me lock down my dream job, W&M enabled me to have some fun along the way as well. In my time here I was able to sing alongside some fellow recreational musicians in Law Cappella; teach eager middle and high schoolers about the Constitution through both Constitutional Conversations and the Constitutional Literacy programs; perform primary source research on constitutional history and documents for a nonprofit called ConSource for academic credit (yes, I consider that very fun); and of course participate in myriad social events hosted by student groups such as Barrister’s Ball, the PSF Auction, and so many others.

As I look back fondly on my time here at W&M, I hope you are looking forward to an equally rewarding three years!

Read Laura’s first semester reflection and her experience as a Graduate Research Fellow.

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