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...]

Learning More Than You’ve Realized

brownby Cathy Brown, Class of 2017

It’s that part of the semester.  We have only a few short weeks left of classes, finals are looming, and my course outlines are, let’s just say, not in great shape.  (I’ll start outlining this weekend, I swear!)  Spring has arrived in Williamsburg, bringing warmer temperatures, flowering trees, and a desperation to finish the semester and begin summer vacation.  Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve vacillated between feeling stressed out and burned out as my 1L year begins to draw to a close.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed in the midst of a busy semester.  Many times throughout the year, I’ve felt like I’m the only dunce who didn’t know that the Uniform Commercial Code governs transactions for the sale of goods; who doesn’t understand what a restrictive covenant is; and who is still a little murky on the definition of promissory estoppel.

Recently, however, I realized just how much I’ve grown over the past eight months and how much law I’ve actually learned over my 1L year.  To prove my point, I’ll share three anecdotes that occurred over the past week.

First: I’m much better at reading the law than I realized.  My boyfriend, who doesn’t attend law school, picked up one of my textbooks and started reading it.  After a couple of minutes, he put it down, stared at me, and asked how on earth I understood the case I had been reading.  I looked at the page he was stuck on and started skimming it.  To me, it seemed pretty straightforward; sure, there were a couple of confusing points, but I at least understood the gist of what the Court was saying.  So, the moral of the story?  The law really is like another language, and I’ve taken for granted just how much I’ve learned this language throughout the past year.

Second: I can apply the law better than I realized.  I was recently watching a movie with a court scene in it.  One of the lawyers requested a change of venue, which is something you’ll learn about in your Civil Procedure class in the fall.  I paused the movie and – no joke – started running through a change of venue analysis in my head, realizing that the filmmakers had actually done their research and had applied this concept correctly.  This made me very excited, probably more than it should have.

Third: I’m not the only one who’s felt overwhelmed at points this year.  After an exceptionally difficult class a few days ago, I left the lecture hall feeling discouraged, assuming that I was the only student who was incredibly confused.  This feeling lasted only a few minutes until my friends also started complaining about how little they understood about this topic.  Turns out, we’re all in exactly the same boat as far as our level of comprehension goes.  A group study session is forthcoming.  Two heads are better than one, right?

Law school is hard.  I’d be lying if I told you otherwise.  However, even after just a year, I can already tell how valuable my William & Mary Law School education is, and how well I’m being prepared to practice the law.  As Professor Kingsfield said in The Paper Chase: “You come in here with a skull full of mush, and you leave thinking like a lawyer.”  After a year, I can say with certainty that the de-mushing process is definitely well underway.

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And They’re Off! (PSF Auction 2015)

wentworthby Christie Wentworth, Class of 2017

During the summer of 2014 alone, William & Mary Law School awarded $335,275 to 109 students for public service fellowships. These fellowships allow students to pursue otherwise unpaid summer internships with qualifying nonprofit organizations, legal aid offices, prosecutors, public defenders, government agencies, courts, and judges. While the majority of these fellowships are funded by law school endowments and alumni, the Public Service Fund contributes tens of thousands of dollars every year.

For over 20 years, the Public Service Fund has been devoted to raising money for summer stipends. The organization hosts fundraising events year-round, but it traditionally raises the most money from the PSF Auction held every spring. The best part of Auction—in addition to raising money to support a worthy cause—is the excitement of the event itself. Student and faculty emcees engage the audience in lively bidding wars, anxious bidders stake out at the silent auction to make sure they go home with their chosen package, student bands perform, poor students avoid the bidding entirely and hover by the food tables, and the guests that get all dolled up for the event take advantage of the photo station.

10487233_1597126917188064_2410761709733705492_nWith the Auction’s Kentucky Derby theme this year, big hats, bow ties, and a fast-paced atmosphere predominated. Nine student bands performed, with a lively rendition of “Uptown Funk” rejuvenating the crowd after a long night of bidding, and PSF raised over $20,000 for summer stipends. Donations for this event came not only from local and national businesses, but from alumni, students, and faculty as well. Over 30 faculty members donated Faculty Experiences, which ranged from sport clay shooting with Professors Alces and Stern, to a Middle Eastern dinner with Professors Combs, Kades, and Criddle, to lunch with Dean Douglas. Some of the student offers included sailing lessons, a private aerial tour, a Hogwarts dinner party, and Indian cooking classes.


330 students, faculty, staff, family, and friends attended this year’s auction, but those who were not able to make it are still in luck! Because PSF secured over 270 packages this year, the items that did not sell in the first round will be auctioned off in an online “fire-sale” after Spring Break. If you want to take a look at the items that are still looking for a good home, check out the event website!

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Virginia Attorney General Mike Herring Pays W&M Law a Visit!

lennonby Kate Lennon, Class of 2017

On March 24, W&M Law had the privilege of hosting yet another prominent figure in the legal community. In the afternoon of that day, Virginia Attorney General Herring came to the law school for a lecture and Q&A session. This event was open to students and the public, which provided for a great atmosphere and a variety of questions. The Attorney General began his lecture by speaking of the roles of an attorney general: fighting for constituents, fighting for equality and opportunity for all Virginians, and keeping neighborhoods and community safe. He then went into talking about these roles individually.

When speaking of his role to fight for constituents, the Attorney General spoke of the Affordable Care Act. He explained that in his view, the issue of the Affordable Care Act literally means the difference between a modest family of four being able to afford health insurance and not being able to afford it at all. He then spoke about his role in fighting for equality and opportunity in both the areas of marriage equality and domiciliary status for children of immigrants. As most know, Attorney General Herring is known for his refusal to defend Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage. Hearing his view in regards to this topic was truly fascinating, revolving around his goal of Virginia not being on the wrong side of history with these marriage issues.

herringAttorney General Herring then turned to discussions revolving around keeping neighborhoods and the community safe. He explained that since he used to be a county supervisor, issues of safety are of great importance to him. He reflected on a public safety tour he did to find out the issues and move toward helping these issues like drugs and sexual assault. The Attorney General then ended his lecture listing issues he hopes to address moving forward such as consumer protection, equality, hate crimes, and the criminal justice system.

After this lecture, the event moved in Q&A. The Q&A was incredibly interesting as it varied from public questions on local issues to student questions involving the law and professor questions regarding the Attorney General’s authority in defending state laws. When the questions portion ended, the event moved into a reception where attendees could talk with each other and with the Attorney General one on one. These opportunities to hear from and speak with such a prominent figure in the making of history are another reason law school is such a unique experience. I think taking advantage of the opportunities that interest you in law school are what can round out the law school experience and make the most of legal education.

Click here to read the news story.

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BLSA Symposium – Where Do We Go From Here: Community or Chaos?

phillip lby Phillip Lecky, Class of 2015

On Tuesday, March 17, the Black Law Students Association, in conjunction with the Center for Student Diversity, The Lemon Project, Student Assembly and the Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity hosted a symposium in the Commonwealth Auditorium of the Sadler Center.  The symposium’s inspiration arose from Martin Luther King’s book, the namesake of the symposium.  The purpose of the event was to provide a space for dialog about many of the pressing issues facing minority communities such as police brutality, structural racism, poverty, and affirmative action to name a few, and to provide strategies for eradicating injustice and inequality.

The esteemed and highly regarded panelists were Professor Adrien Wing of the University of Iowa, Professor Greg Carr of Howard University, Professor Eddie Cole of William & Mary, Professor andre douglas pond cummings of Indiana Tech, Monique Dixon from the NAACP LDF, and Jessica Pierce, from the Black Youth Project 100. The moderators were William & Mary’s own Professor Vivian Hamilton and Professor Jamel Donnor.  Law students, graduate students, faculty members, former students, and other members of the community were in attendance to listen and engage with the speakers about the issues.


Thanks to BLSA and Symposium Chair, Belema Idoniboye for organizing this well-needed and still relevant discussion!

Click here for the news story.

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Phi Alpha Delta is Back!

greenby Kelly Green, Class of 2017

America’s oldest law fraternity, Phi Alpha Delta, has been revived at William & Mary Law School. Phi Alpha Delta (or PAD) provides a mix of fraternal camaraderie and professional benefits. Since the fall, over forty students have joined the George-Wythe Chapter, with membership continuing to increase as word spreads throughout the School.

Part of this growth can be attributed to the national prestige and major networking benefits associated with PAD, but a significant portion is due to successful programming. PAD kicked off its comeback last semester with a bonfire on a chilly Friday night, featuring hot cocoa and s’mores, and continued with a bowling night and a Super-Bowl watch party.

However, Phi Alpha Delta is undoubtedly more than a social organization. This semester, PAD is focusing on academics and alumni relations. Numerous law supplements have been collected in an effort to establish a bookshelf in the library to assist members with their studies. There are also several review sessions planned for first-year students looking to solidify their understanding of second-semester classes.

By far the most interesting event this semester is initiation at the United States Supreme Court on March 4, 2015. A group of future PAD members will be travelling with the rest of the membership to get initiated in Washington, DC. Members will also go on a private tour of the Capitol and meet several well-connected PAD alumni. The initiation should also feature at a Supreme Court Justice.

All in all, Phi Alpha Delta coming back is an excellent thing for students at William and Mary Law School. It features a uniquely diverse blend of programming and resources that will prove beneficial for students now and in the future.

 pad 2

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Halfway There!

lizradby Liz Rademacher, Class of 2016

On January 15, William & Mary Law celebrated a tradition that I’ve been looking forward to celebrating ever since my 1L year: the Halfway Through BBQ. Every year, the Law School throws a barbecue complete with all the fixings for 2L students who have just finished the first half of law school. After making it through our first three semesters here, my classmates and I felt like there was plenty to celebrate!

Over pulled pork sandwiches and generous helpings of baked beans and freshly-made applesauce, second-year students enjoyed catching up with each other. We chatted about what the second half of law school held in store and took some time to reflect on how far we’d all come since that first day of class a year and a half ago.

While people roasted marshmallows over a fire to make s’mores in the crisp winter air outside on the patio, I was struck by just how quickly my time in Williamsburg has passed. In my short time here, I’ve taken thirteen classes, worked as a summer intern in Washington, DC, become a Law Review staff member, done an externship in Richmond, and so much more. My classmates have won moot court tournaments or started their own organizations; they’ve worked as student attorneys at clinics and performed their own independent academic research. I’ve seen many of my classmates get engaged or get married—a few have even had their first children! And through all these milestones and changes, the entire Law School community has been a constant source of support and strength.

So much has happened since law school began, and I’m excited to see what new adventures and opportunities the second half of this journey will bring my classmates and me. Cheers, Class of 2016, we’re halfway through!

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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:


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 (credit cassiopeia). 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!


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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