Annual Thanksgiving Basket Competition

lennonby Kate Lennon, Class of 2017

On the Thursday before Thanksgiving, first-year law students were able to get a break from their studies and take part in a service project for the community. Each year, the Law School participates in a Thanksgiving food drive, sponsored by the Black Law Students Association, which collects thousands of food items to benefit families in need in the area. Each 1L Legal Practice section collects food items and money to buy food items for donation. But, collecting the items is not where it ends in this food drive. There is a competitive spin. The food items purchased and collected are used to create different displays. They call the displays “baskets”– I am guessing the competition used to be basket but now has grown much bigger. Each section creates their own display to compete with other sections based on three categories: best content, most creative, and judges’ choice.

The night before judging, the Law School lobby was full of first-year law students creating displays for their section. Everyone was having fun with it. Music and laughter filled the lobby. The competition resulted in a variety of different displays. My section initially went in with an idea to make a giant piece of pie. However, once we got to the school, we realized another section was doing the same thing. Within a moments notice, we scratched the idea and came up with a new one. This is what we came up with:

basket

A display of a fireplace in a living room won for judges’ choice; most creative went to a Wizard of Oz Display; and best content went to a courtroom display complete with an image of Dean Douglas in a robe as the judge. The food drive was able to collect 4,114 food items and coupons for 12 turkeys to be donated to help the community for Thanksgiving. While our section did not win (the competition was fierce), helping families in need was a victory all the same.

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Intramural Sports During Law School

greenby Kelly Green, Class of 2018

Arriving at law school, I was told that I need to spend time throughout the week on a recreational activity. For most students, this activity is watching Netflix. However, another recreational avenue exists that has proved to be a great counterbalance to the rigors of law school– intramurals!

On a brisk November night, ten law school students warm up for a flag football game on a muddy field next to the William & Mary Fitness Center. Unlike the other intramural football teams, this team never practices, but they show up ready to play for each game and have an undefeated record. They have a great time playing since many of the members of the Law School’s intramural sports teams played a sport for their undergraduate schools. Some ran track or played soccer while others played football or volleyball. Others have no experience and are simply playing to just let loose. After a day filled with case briefs and cold calling, a night that features good old-fashioned running and camaraderie is exactly what the doctor ordered.

Overall, William & Mary Law School students are heavily involved in intramural sports. This semester, almost every class year had teams in both the men’s and co-ed division of multiple sports. The co-rec indoor soccer championship game pinned two first-year Law School teams against each other with the “True Americans” beating “1L of a Soccer Team” in a nail biter. The first round of the flag football playoffs featured the undefeated third year co-ed team “Semi-Pro Bono”. At all these games, Law School students could be seen on the sidelines cheering on their fellow classmates.

“True Americans” Winners of the Co-ed Indoor Soccer Intramural Champtionship

“True Americans” Winners of the Co-ed Indoor Soccer Intramural Champtionship

It seems like many Law students have found just the right balance of physical and mental exercise necessary throughout the semester. With volleyball, tennis, and basketball intramurals coming up in the spring, it appears that students here at William & Mary Law School will be plenty involved in both the mental and physical challenges that this school has to offer.

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Arsenic & Old Lace

keefeby TJ Keefe, Class of 2018

For law students, the end of the semester can be very stressful. With various deadlines looming, most of us start spending far more time in the library than we’d like to admit. Yet, as many students prepare to perform on finals, members of the William & Mary Law Revue prepare to perform on stage.  Providing their classmates with an excellent diversion from the stresses of November, the law school’s drama group, Law Revue, performs a new play each fall.

This year, the William & Mary Law Revue delivered two performances of Joseph Kesselring’s Arsenic & Old Lace.  To be honest, I had no idea what to expect going into Saturday night’s performance of the comedy. To say that the show was a pleasant surprise would be an understatement. Law Revue managed to transform the law school lobby into an intimate theater, complete with a solid crowd and homemade refreshments. Once the play began, the performers had the audience laughing throughout the entire show. Perhaps the funniest performance of the evening was delivered by Michael Wyatt, portraying the unscrupulous Dr. Einstein. Maintaining an absurd German accent throughout the show, Wyatt received giggles from the audience with nearly every one of his lines.

Given the time of the year, Law Revue’s performance of Arsenic & Old Lace was an impressive feat. Faced with the workload of November, the group’s student-actors managed to provide an extremely polished play. Without reservation, I would recommend checking out Law Revue’s next show!

arsenicandlace

Cast and Crew (pictured above and listed below)

Abby Brewster Amanda Hamm (3L)
Martha Brewster Rose Moore (2L)
Teddy Brewster Eric Taber (1L)
Mortimer Brewster Peter Landsman (3L)
Jonathan Brewster Andrew Pecoraro (1L)
Dr. Einstein Michael Wyatt (2L)
Dr. Harper Karl Spiker (1L)
Elaine Harper Lydia Magyar (2L)
Mr. Gibbs Alex Reidell (3L)
Officer Brophy Nicholas Medved (1L)
Officer Klein Ajinur Setiwaldi (1L)
Officer O’Hara Jennifer Watson (2L)
Lieutenant Rooney Seth Peritz (2L)
Dr. Witherspoon Michelle Weinbaum (1L)
Hoskins/Spenalzo Teresa Donaldson (1L)
Director Ashley Johnson (JD/MPP 2016)
Production Manager Jane Ostdiek (3L)
Stage Manager Mary Catherine Amerine (1L)
Technical Director  Kevin Bender (2L)
Publicity Chair Amy Meiburg (2L)

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Bone Marrow Drive Pie-Eating Contest

lennonby Kate Lennon, Class of 2017

On October 28th, the Law School yet again proved that it could come together for a good cause. The annual Bone Marrow Drive Pie-Eating Contest went into full effect during the lunch hour. The goal of the contest is to raise awareness and funding for bone marrow related illnesses. For this event, students could purchase entry for $5.00. Upon entry into the actual event you are given a piece of pie (I had strawberry!) and a seat to watch an entertaining show. The entertaining show is a pie-eating contest. Who are the contestants? Well none other than our very own students, professors, and faculty! There was a student contestant representing each class year along with the various professors and faculty.

Throughout the week prior to the event students, faculty and staff had the opportunity to donate money toward the cause of bone marrow related illnesses. For every two dollars a person donated they could bring a contestant’s time for pie eating up or down 5 seconds. The idea was to try and bring up the time for a person you wanted to win or bring down the time for a contestant you wanted to lose. The rules for the contest were simple. Whoever ate the most pie in their allotted time, without using their hands, won! It ended up being quite entertaining to watch as the professors’ and students’ faces became covered in the pie of their choice.

In the end, the 3L student won the contest overall. He was also the student who planned the entire event! Professor Griffin won the faculty portion of the contest, maintaining his dynasty as the reigning champion of the faculty pie-eating contest (bringing his trophy from last year to the competition with him). Here you see professor Griffin after finding out he had won:

griffin 1

Professor Griffin did not just win a trophy, however. He was also given the opportunity to pie all the students in the face with whip cream pies. Here you can see Professor Griffin pushing a pie into the face of the 1L contestant (who ironically received a trophy for eating the least amount of pie):

griffin 2

The whole event was great. It was a great way to take a break from studying, eat some delicious pie, as well as raise awareness and funding for bone marrow related illnesses. The entire event raised $2,565!! It was definitely a success and I can see why they do it every year!

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BLSA Fruitvale Station Movie Night

phillip lby Phillip Lecky, Class of 2015

Goals of the Black Law Student Associations (BLSA) include furthering the academic, social, and professional needs and goals of black law students, and working together to foster a successful learning environment. BLSA recently held a movie night in light of numerous recent events that have sparked much discussion on race relations and showed the film, Fruitvale Station.

The film depicts the last day of Oscar Grant, played by Michael B. Jordan, before he was fatally shot by a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) police officer in the wee morning hours of New Year’s Day of 2009 in Oakland, California. The film was produced by Forrest Whittaker and raises sociopolitical awareness about the BART shooting event.

panelPrior to the movie, Professor Blakely of the undergraduate campus offered some thoughts on current race relations.  After the movie, panelists composed of law professors, an undergraduate professor, and current post-bachelor students discussed the implications of the movie as well as matters pertinent to race and to perspectives on race.  Topics that were discussed included current thoughts on the predisposition of black males to violence; the institutional factors that cause stress to black males; the coverage of black males in the media; the climate of Ferguson, Missouri from an eyewitness; the role of hip-hop in black culture and whether it has been good or bad; the effects on black women when incidents of violence happen to black women; and stop-and-frisk laws.  The evening was at times emotional, but nonetheless thought-provoking. It was a great event sponsored by BLSA, and attendees walked away with needed food for thought.

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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.

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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!

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