Working with Mandela: The Constitutional Process in Post-Apartheid South Africa

by Phillip Lecky, Class of 2015

The William and Mary Law School, through the International Law Society (ILS) in partnership with the Black Law Student Association (BLSA), was honored to welcome Justice Albert “Albie” Sachs of South Africa on March 31, 2014 for a talk and book-signing. Born in South Africa in 1935 of Lithuanian parents, Justice Sachs was instrumental in fighting against the oppressive white-dominated rule in South Africa. Due to the large numbers of people interested in hearing Justice Sachs speak, his talk had to be relocated to a larger room, and still there was standing room only! His talk was entitled Working with Mandela: The Constitutional Process in Post-Apartheid South Africa.

albie sachs

As Justice Sachs began to speak, it was clear that all in the audience were intently focused on what he had to say for he had an uncanny ability of keeping people hanging on his every word. Whether he was speaking about how he first became involved in the fight against oppression as a juvenile; his memories of the trial which caused Nelson Mandela to be imprisoned for almost three decades; how he lost part of one arm and sight in one eye as a result of a bomb; his activity in regards to crafting a new Constitution in which all South Africans would be treated equally; or his role on the Constitutional Court, his energy and passion for the causes he stood for was more than evident.  What a man! What a legend! I, and, I think it is safe to say, the rest of the William & Mary community collectively thanks Justice Sachs for gracing us with his presence and all that he did to make this world a better place!

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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.

Getting to Know Faculty

by Liz Berry, Class of 2016

IMG_7257After two semesters at W&M, I’ve had eight different professors (six doctrinal, one Writing Practice, and one Adjunct). With larger classes than at my undergraduate institution (not that it was hard to do…I had classes of four people sometimes), I was expecting that I wouldn’t really get to know my professors. Luckily, I was wrong. All of my professors have been so open and willing to meet with each and every one of their students. Some professors schedule brown bag lunches (and supply Extraordinary Cupcakes) to get to know their students, while others are willing to walk over to the Blue Talon/Trellis/Cheese Shop in small groups for a more intimate lunch. Coffee meetings are also eagerly welcomed (and really, how can you turn down coffee in law school?). In any case, the professors at W&M want to get to know the students just as much as the students want to get to know them.

The Public Service Fund auction (where students and faculty auction off activities) really proves my point. Professors auctioned off dinners, cocktail hours, Mad Men season premier parties, and even game nights. The proceeds went to PSF, but students get to spend the time they purchased with their professors. And the professors were happy to do it. You can tell that students love their professors when they buy time with them for $400 (although I think the professors would do the same type of things for free!).

So. Moral of the story? Don’t be afraid to reach out to a professor and ask to get lunch, coffee, or even a cupcake together. They’d be more than willing to do so.

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BLSA Oliver Hill Banquet

by Phillip Lecky, Class of 2015

OliverHillDinner2014 (32) (2)On Saturday, February 23, 2014, the Black Law Students Association (BLSA) organized another phenomenal celebration of the life of Oliver White Hill, civil rights lawyer and activist, instrumental in the Brown v. Board of Education decision which provided for the desegregation of schools.  BLSA has been hosting the Oliver Hill Banquet in honor of Hill for almost 20 years.  This year, the Banquet was held in conjunction with the William & Mary African-American Alumni Reunion. The weekend was also notable as it celebrated the 60th Anniversary of William & Mary’s first African-American graduate, Edward Travis.

OliverHillDinner2014 (170) (2)Present at the Banquet were alumni of course, faculty members, families of students, and current students.  After a riveting speaker, the BLSA board recognized numerous current students for their achievements and activities throughout the year. Dean Douglas also reiterated the fact that BLSA was recently voted as the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the Year for this school year.  BLSA’s mission at the beginning of the school year was to win this award, and despite the difficulties, and moments when the goal seemed impossible to achieve, that is exactly what they did.  Congrats to BLSA for a memorable Oliver Hill Banquet and wonderful year!

OliverHillDinner2014 (166) (2)

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A Day in the Life of a 1L

by Liz Rademacher, Class of 2016

Now that I’ve finished the first half of my first year of law school at William & Mary, I feel like I’ve started to settle into a routine. My schedule’s a bit different each day, but here’s a glimpse into a random Thursday in the life of a 1L:

7:00 a.m. My alarm clock goes off. Time to wake up!

7:09 a.m. Okay, so I hit the snooze button just once. Waking up for real now! Time for me to shower, eat breakfast, and pack up my things for the day before I make the ten-minute commute to the law school for my first class this morning.

8:30 a.m. Time for Legal Practice! My Legal Practice class meets three times a week, twice with a legal writing professor and once with an adjunct professor who teaches my class other legal skills. Some weeks, we’ll have lectures with the law school librarians instead of meeting for class. Today my class is reviewing the basics of persuasive legal writing. I have class with my Legal Practice firm, which has only 13 other people in it.

10:00 a.m. Now I need to go to Contracts, my largest class. We’re learning about which kinds of promises are legally enforceable in a contract today (it’s more exciting than it sounds).

11:30 a.m. Time for Property, where we’re learning about adverse possession. Just a little over an hour until I’m done with all my classes for the day!

12:45 p.m. All finished with classes and now my favorite part of the day, lunch hour, is finally here. The law school purposefully doesn’t schedule classes during this time of the day to give students a chance to go to events or meetings and to eat lunch. Today, I’m going to a panel of guest speakers the Office of Career Services has organized to hear about legal careers within local, state, and federal government offices. Like most events that OCS plans during this time of day, there’s free pizza!

2:00 p.m. Time to hit the books. After the OCS event ends, I grab a snack from Greenberry’s, the law school café, and head to the law library with some of my friends. We grab a table in the sunny reading room on the first floor with a view out the window of some trees. I unpack my books, queue up my favorite study music playlist, and cozy into a reading for my Constitutional Law class.

4:30 p.m. After finishing up my reading and taking some notes, I head to a Public Service Fund meeting. I’m on the general board of PSF, so I help to plan events and fundraisers throughout the year. This meeting is about PSF’s annual fundraiser auction, which helps to raise money for students who work in unpaid public service internships over the summer. We meet for about an hour to talk about food, entertainment, and decorations for the big night.

5:30 p.m. I head home where my roommate and I like to unwind after a long day by eating dinner together. I warm up a bowl of soup as we chat about our days, and then we watch an episode of Scrubs before hitting the books again.

7:00 p.m. More reading.

9:00 p.m. I take a quick break and call my mom to say hi before I start to write a cover letter for a summer internship. Tomorrow I’ll bring it into OCS to ask one of the career services deans to review it for me—they give awesome feedback!

9:30 p.m. Done with work for the day. I surf the web for a bit and send a few emails before shutting down my laptop and curling up in bed with a good book.

11:00 p.m. Bedtime!

And there you have it—a day in the life of a 1L.

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Aromas Café Offers More than a Sweet Scent to Students

by Graham Bryant, Class of 2016

One of the most important things to look for when deciding on a law school is the availability of quality caffeinated beverages close to the campus. Conveniently, Aromas Coffeehouse, Bakery, and Fresh Café has the denizens of William & Mary covered.

Aromas stock image (2)Conveniently located on Prince George Street—an easy ten-minute walk from the law school and one street away from Colonial Williamsburg’s Duke of Gloucester Street—Aromas is an institution among William & Mary students. I also was a William & Mary undergrad, and I can honestly say that Aromas was in my top ten reasons for choosing William & Mary Law School.

Aromas offers something for everyone. If you’re into live music and local artists, they have music nights each week and occasionally even host open-mic nights. If you simply want to get your tea—or coffee—and a pastry and run, that’s fine too. You’ll just have trouble choosing among their plethora of tea and coffee blends, or settling on only one made-on-site-that-day pastry. Finally, if you want to relax with a group of friends and share a meal, Aromas has an extensive breakfast, lunch, and dinner menu that’s surprisingly affordable—even on a law student’s budget.

aromas-interior (2)In fact, one of my favorite things to do is get Saturday morning breakfast at Aromas before beginning the day’s work. And I’m not alone—every morning I’ve been there this year, I’ve run into other law students.

Despite being incredibly popular with tourists, Aromas remains a remarkably student-friendly location. Sure, my Saturday morning breakfast outings are typically swarmed with vacationers, but there are always students working on their laptops or doing readings. In fact, I drafted a sizable portion of my Civil Procedure outline while sipping tea on Aromas’ front patio. This student-friendly atmosphere is a cornerstone of the Aromas mystique, making it a great place to meet with other law students or even undergrads.

If you really want to become a regular, though, stop by Aromas at night. Usually, only locals and students are around in the evenings, and the friendly wait staff will soon know you by name. In addition to avoiding the tourist crowds, all the live music events happen at night.

As a prospective member of the William & Mary Law community, I’ll let you in on a little secret: Aromas is the best place in Williamsburg to purchase bulk coffee beans and loose-leaf tea. It’s not well advertised, but if you ask them, they’ll be happy to sell you a bag of that bean blend you love so much. You might just need to have a healthy supply when finals crunch time approaches.

So if you’re in town to visit the school, I would encourage you to stop by Aromas and get a feel for downtown Williamsburg. If nothing else, grab a slice of their chocolate overload cake. You can thank me when you start in the fall.

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Having Fun in Law School: Ski Weekend

by Lauren Bridenbaugh, Class of 2014

Every year the Student Bar Association (SBA) hosts a ski trip to Snowshoe Mountain in West Virginia. Snowshoe is 11,000 acres in the Allegheny Mountains. There are 60 slopes and trails with two trails featuring a 1,500 feet vertical drop. The slopes and trails range from green (easy) to double black diamond (extremely difficult). The resort also features a tube park, spa, night skiing, and heated pools and hot tubs.

Photo from http://www.snowshoemtn.com

Photo from http://www.snowshoemtn.com

Normally, the law students stay in cabins. However, this year we stayed in the Silver Creek Lodge. This meant some of the easier ski trails were right outside our door as well as the tube park. The lodge also featured an indoor/outdoor pool, two hot tubs, and a sauna. This was great because it made everything very centrally located. Buses were available to take skiers and snowboarders to other sections of the park for more difficult runs.

SBA provides the opportunity to rent skis or snowboards, purchase 1 or 3 day lift passes, and take lessons. As someone who has only skied once in my life, I decided I knew enough to not require a lesson, but did not want to ski more than one day. We picked up our rentals on the first night there so it would be quicker and headed out the next morning. Since I was not very experienced, I stuck to the Silver Creek area. The trails and lifts were very accessible and I found the trails easy to handle for someone with such limited experience. Many people who had never been skiing or snowboarding before took lessons and found them very beneficial. And after a few hours out on the slopes, it was nice to come back to a relaxing hot tub right in the building!

If you don’t want to go out on the slopes, you can still go on the trip. At least half of the 150 law students attending, did not go out. Many went to the tube park, hung out with friends, or visited the village by bus at the resort. There is plenty to do up on the mountain for amateur and advanced skiers alike, as well as the “there is no way I am getting on that chair lift” students.

Ski weekend is a great way to see everyone and have fun with your law school friends after being away for Christmas Break!

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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.

Go “Mad About Chocolate”

by Lauren Bridenbaugh, Class of 2016

If you are looking for a sweet break, there is no better place in Williamsburg than Mad About Chocolate. Mad About Chocolate is located just a few blocks from the main campus and features a variety of delicious desserts. The owner, Marcel Desaulniers, has hosted several cooking shows as well as writing many cookbooks, primarily on desserts.

mad about chocolate chefThe menu features an assortment of desserts that can instantly help you unwind from a busy day of outlining and memo writing. If you like dark chocolate and nuts, I recommend the Black Mamba Cookies. They are positively divine! Another one of my favorites is the Double MAD Brownies, two fudge brownie layers separated by two layers of ganache. Naturally, the menu also features hot chocolate to help stave off the winter chill.

The shop itself is also visually appealing featuring bright colors and comfortable seating as well as Chef Desaulnier’s wife’s artwork. As if this was all not tempting enough, the store also sells wine and beer to take out or enjoy along with your chocolate.

So, if you’re in Williamsburg and looking for a sweet treat with friends, head on over to Mad About Chocolate.

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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.

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De-Stress During Finals

by Liz Berry, Class of 2016

helpinglawyersFeeling stressed, over caffeinated, and a little bit sleep deprived? No worries, so is every other law student in America. One of the great things about W&M is that people actually care that you’re stressed. And they want to help.

Lawyers Helping Lawyers (LHL) sponsors a De-Stress Day during midterms and finals. The student organization spoils the law students with all day coffee, tea, snacks, candy, and anything else you think you could need while you hibernate in the library. And if you decide you need a break from your life in the library, they even host yoga in one of the classrooms.

So yes, exams are a little stressful (especially for a 1L who isn’t exactly sure what curveballs are going to be thrown her way). But knowing that we’re all in this together (cue music here), and that people give out free coffee and cookies two full days every semester, makes this life I call law school so much better.

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