Lights, Camera, Auction!

alsawafby Sami Alsawaf, Class of 2017

The Public Service Fund is one of the most active groups on campus. They hold events and fundraisers all year long to raise money for students who work in unpaid public service internships over the summer. The fellowships are open for all students to apply, and having received a fellowship the last two summers, I can attest to how valuable these fellowships are for students.

auctionSome of the most popular fundraisers are the corn hole competition, the Halloween party, and the t-shirt sale. The biggest fundraiser of the year is Auction, which takes place every spring. The theme varies every year—this year it was Broadway, and in past we’ve had Kentucky Derby and James Bond. It’s always fun to get dressed up and hang out with your friends outside of school. Students, faculty, alumni, and members of the community donate items to the Auction. Students have donated babysitting services, a home-cooked meal, or free sports lessons. The faculty packages are always hot items, such as brunch, trivia, laser tag, or a spa day. Students will get together to bid on a faculty package to spend time with their friends and get to know their professors a little better.

Over the years, I’ve won an Oktoberfest dinner with two of my professors, lunch at a local restaurant with a professor, and two years in a row, I won monthly (delicious) baked goods from one of our librarians. This year, I won a dinner for four at the same librarian’s house that I’ll split with my best friends. Another one of my friends won a “mystery” package, which contained gift cards to Amazon, Chipotle, another restaurant, plus movie tickets, and a fancy car wash. I really love the Auction because it’s so much fun to keep bidding and outbidding on a package you really want, plus all the money goes back to the students.

I think the Auction represents one of the best things about William & Mary Law School—the community. The professors love to auction off packages to get to know their students, and alumni are always trying to stay involved to help the students that come after them. And of course, the students like to auction off creative and fun events for their friends. No one is under any obligation to donate to Auction; everyone does it because it’s fun and it’s a great cause. Auction shows year after year that William & Mary takes care of its own, and I’m proud to be a part of this community.

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Being a Journal Staff Member

grecoby Marc Greco, Class of 2018

Before arriving here, I had heard of law journals—or law reviews, as they are also known—but understood very little of how they really worked. I like to think I understand a thing or two now that I’ve served on the William & Mary Law Review for over six months.

W&M Law boasts five journals. Membership in any one begins with a write-on competition at the end of the first year. The competition has two parts: an editing portion and a writing portion. Students are selected for a given journal based on their performance in the competition and the order in which they rank their preferred journals.

Introductory matters aside, I’ve found my time on the Law Review equal parts rewarding and enriching. Staff members like myself have two duties: cite checking and writing an original note. Cite checking is essentially the process of editing the articles selected for publication. It requires the staff member to confirm the factual accuracy of the author’s statements, add authority to support the author’s assertions, and edit for proper grammar and citations. Though challenging, this process confers several benefits to the cite checker. I’ve worked on excellent legal scholarship, improved my research and writing skills, and learned of topics I otherwise wouldn’t have discovered.

library (69)Writing a note has been just as challenging and rewarding. A note is the law student’s version of an article that would appear in a journal (“note” is one of the many misnomers in the legal lexicon because the papers are typically over forty pages long). Staff members complete their notes over the course of the year, working closely with the journal’s Notes Editors to produce a work of publishable quality. I’m writing about the law of outer space as it pertains to asteroid mining. I’ve learned just how much research goes into journal pieces (spoiler alert: a whole mess) and the patience necessary to make it work.

Membership on a journal is a valuable component of the law school experience. The skills I have honed on the Law Review have translated usefully to other parts of my legal life. And no one in the profession can deny the purchase journal participation carries on a resume.

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William & Mary Moot Court

zimmermanby Liesel Zimmerman, Class of 2018

After an exciting two weeks of intense competition, 23 students have been selected to join the William & Mary Moot Court Team! 1Ls and 2Ls participated in the annual Bushrod T. Washington Tournament to earn a place on the team. The tournament was named for Supreme Court Justice Bushrod Washington, who graduated from William & Mary and served on the Court with Chief Justice John Marshall at the turn of the nineteenth century.

The Moot Court Team practices appellate advocacy, using the format of oral arguments presented before the Supreme Court. Participants in the Moot Court Program learn to write appellate briefs addressing pertinent legal issues. They then argue their positions before panels of judges, who may interrupt to ask questions about the law. Advocates must be able to think on their feet and persuasively defend their positions.

In most cases, the Bushrod Tournament is the first exposure that students have to appellate argumentation. For the current team members, it’s a chance to channel our favorite Supreme Court Justices as we don black robes and question competitors about the law. For the competitors, it is a chance to show their argumentative prowess and zealously advocate for their party’s position. This year’s problem dealt with potential First Amendment concerns surrounding a classification of Gay Conversion Therapy called “Talk Therapy.” Students did an excellent job of navigating the complex constitutional issues and delivering convincing arguments.

Moot Court TeamThe top eight competitors in the Bushrod Tournament will move forward to compete for the coveted Edmund Randolph Silver Tongue Award. The William & Mary Institute of Bill of Rights Law also presents this award to a practicing appellate lawyer for outstanding achievement in their field. The award-winning attorney serves on an esteemed panel of William & Mary faculty, who select the ultimate winner of the Bushrod Tournament.

In the fall, the new members will take an Advanced Brief Writing course to help them master the written advocacy skills required to write a persuasive brief. They will then practice oral arguments in a fun and competitive intra-team tournament. From there, they will have the opportunity to compete in Moot Court tournaments across the country in a variety of legal disciplines. Based on the exceptional skill displayed during this year’s Bushrod Tournament, the Moot Court Team is thrilled to welcome our new members!

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Women and Political Campaigns

alsawafby Sami Alsawaf, Class of 2017

As current President of the Women’s Law Society, I helped organize an event called “Women and Political Campaigns,” a panel discussion focused on helping women run for office. The panel featured Commonwealth’s Attorney Holly Smith (a WM Law alum) and Julie Copeland of Emerge VA, an organization that helps train women to run for office. Professor Rebecca Green, Director of the Election Law Program, moderated the event.

The panel focused on issues that women face while running for office—lies about their personal life, the media drawing attention to issues that have no bearing on a woman’s ability to run for office, and subtle sexism about them as a person. It was great to hear both sides of the coin—a woman who has actually ran for public office, and another woman that helps train women to run for office. They were able to speak about real life experiences and talk about the science behind why certain techniques are more successful for women.

The event was inspiring, to say the least. I left the event feeling empowered with a desire to run for public office, and I wanted to do everything I could to help other women run as well.

The questions from the audience showed how much each person cares about this issue. Questions ranged from how we can help prevent the sexism in campaigns, to issues faced by younger women that may prevent them from running for office. The panelists were very open in their answers and willing to share their own personal experiences. They encouraged all of us to run, if that was our goal, and not to let anyone tell us that we could not win.

After the discussion, we all headed out to the law school patio for a small reception. It was a great way for me, as a 3L, to get to know some of the 1Ls and 2Ls that I have not met before, and all of the participants loved getting one on one time with our panelists. The event was a great way to wrap up this election cycle, as it was able to focus on a lot of the issues I am sure many people have been feeling. Everyone left the event feeling unstoppable and capable of running one day. I’m glad my organization was able to provide such an experience for our students.

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Pumpkin Picking with the Women’s Law Society!

alsawafby Sami Alsawaf, Class of 2017

As someone from Florida, living in Virginia has opened up my eyes to a whole new world—mainly that seasons other than summer do, in fact, exist. Since arriving in Williamsburg three years ago, I have enjoyed every moment of the changing weather, but no season is more breathtaking than fall. The air is crisp, the leaves turn gorgeous shades of red and orange, and of course, everything is pumpkin flavored.

pumpkinsOn October 16th, the Women’s Law Society took a trip to College Run Farms to pick pumpkins! Having never actually picked a pumpkin in my life, I was unabashedly excited. On a joint social with the Christian Legal Society, we left from the Law School and headed on our way. To get to the farm, we rode on a ferry across the James River. We drove our cars onto the ferry, and once on board, we headed to the bow of the ship to take in the views and the fresh air.

Upon arrival on the other side of the river, we made our way to the farm. College Run had dozens and dozens of pumpkins to choose from, any shape any size—some fit in the size of your hand and some taller than a five-year-old. I personally chose a pumpkin with a blue hue, while one friend chose a perfectly shaped orange one and another picked one great for making pies. The farm also had a corn maze and freshly made pumpkin ice cream. The ice cream was like no other, and a perfect way to end our trip.

The farm was full of families having seasonal fun, and law students taking a break from studying for classes. Law school is busy and stressful, but it’s important to take a break every once in a while to remember there is life outside the four walls of this building, and more importantly, take time to be with your friends. Your friends will be with you throughout the entire three years of school, and it’s okay to take a lazy Sunday afternoon to enjoy some pumpkin ice cream (with four spoons).

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A Trip to the Fourth Circuit

zimmermanby Liesel Zimmerman, Class of 2018

In late March, members of the William & Mary Moot Court Team had the unique and exciting opportunity to attend oral arguments at the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond. Additionally, we had the chance to see the court sit en banc, meaning that all fifteen circuit judges were present, rather than the typical three judge panel.

The first case, US v. Aaron Graham, dealt with a Fourth Amendment question of surveillance as it relates to the use of cell phones. Appellant Graham claimed that the government violated his privacy interests when they gathered his location by analyzing where his cell phone registered on cell towers. In obtaining those records from the phone company, Graham argued, the government was essentially carrying out an unreasonable warrantless search. The Government claimed that the Fourth Amendment does not prohibit the use of a subpoena to obtain evidence about a person from a third party. Because it does not constitute obtaining evidence from a person, only about a person, Graham did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy regarding the cell tower records.

fourth circuitIn the second case, US v. Raymond Surratt, Jr., Appellant Surratt claimed he was sentenced erroneously to a mandatory minimum sentence of life without parole. The lower court’s ruling was based on circuit court precedent which was overturned after his conviction. The question arose of whether the habeas savings clause, which allows the court to grant relief for a select category of statutory-construction mistakes, could be applied in this situation. A highly technical case, additional arguments were made by a court-assigned advocate and a representative from the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, as both submitted amicus briefs.

It was amazing to watch the experienced appellate attorneys in action. For appellate-style argument, lawyers bring a basic outline of the points they want to address to the court. In addition, judges frequently interrupt the presentation to pose hypotheticals and ask questions about the case. Lawyers must be able to remain calm under pressure and think on their feet as they advocate for their clients. Some of the attorneys arguing that day included the United States Attorney for the State of Maryland, a Deputy Solicitor General, and several oral advocates who have argued before the Supreme Court.

For the newly selected 1L members, this was an amazing chance to see the best of the best in action, and to emulate the style of the arguments that we will learn in our Advanced Brief Writing Class next semester. For the 2Ls and 3Ls in attendance, it gave them inspiration for their upcoming tournaments, as many compete in the next several weeks.

After the morning’s arguments, the Moot Court Team went to a popular deli across the street from the courthouse. As we ate lunch, four of the judges came in and took a table right beside us! After watching these incredibly accomplished men and women rule from the bench, it was almost jarring to see them without their robes, eating sandwiches together like old friends. It was a gentle reminder that though these are respected legal scholars whose opinions we read for class, they too were once law students aspiring to greatness. After my experience at the Fourth Circuit, I am more excited than ever to be part of William and Mary’s Moot Court Team!

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The Student Division of the Institute of Bill of Rights Law

by Kate Lennon, Class of 2017lennon

The Student Division of the Institute of Bill of Rights Law, or IBRL:SD as it is commonly referred by students and faculty, serves as a chance for students to get involved in topics surrounding the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. We host a number of social and academic programs throughout the year that allow for learning and conversation on a variety of Con Law issues. Some of the programs hosted by IBRL:SD include Constitutional Conversations, the Scholarly Lunch Series, and the annual Edmund Randolph Award for Excellence in Oral Advocacy, otherwise referred to as “the Silver Tongue Award.”

Constitutional Conversations is community-based education project that facilitates law students going into the community to educate citizens about their civic rights and duties in hopes of inspiring them to be active participants in the democratic process. Constitutional Conversations includes different sessions for students and adults, both of which are taught by law students. The best part about Constitutional Conversations is that you can play a key role as a first-year law student without too much time commitment!

The Scholarly Lunch Series is also another way for a first-year student to get involved. Throughout the semester, IBRL:SD brings in speakers who are involved in Constitutional Law issues. In the 2014-15 academic year, we had various speakers including: Attorney General Mark Herring, Tim Bostic and Tony London (the Plaintiffs in Bostic v. Shaefer, the case that legalized same-sex marriage in Virginia), and Former Texas Solicitor General Jonathan Mitchell. Throughout the year, law students, and sometimes the public, are able to attend these events, which most times include free food (alway a bonus for the busy law student). For these events, we look to our members, especially first-year students, to help set-up and make the events run smoothly!

As part of the Bushrod T. Washington Moot Court Tournament, held for law students to compete for membership on William & Mary’s Moot Court Team, IBRL:SD gives out the Silver Tongue Advocacy Award. The 2015 Silver Tongue Award Recipient was Tom Goldstein, noted appellate advocate and co-founder of SCOTUSblog. It was a real treat to have him come to our law school to speak. Keep an eye out for the naming of next year’s recipient!

This is just a summary of some of the programs IBRL:SD is involved with. Overall, IBRL:SD is a great organization because it allows students to get involved, and to see and hear about the topics they are interested in. Whether it is a long debated issue or a new legal dilemma, our organization encourages students to learn, get involved, and enjoy their passion for Constitutional Law. If you are interested in Con Law issues — even if just for your personal interest rather than your career choice — I encourage you to attend a few of our events!

This post is a part of a series featuring William & Mary Law School’s student organizations. All post are written by student leaders. To read more student organization blog posts, click here

Learn more about our Student Bloggers here.

Student Environmental & Animal Law Society

hambrightby Rosemary E. Hambright, Class of 2016.

Rosemary E. Hambright is from Beaumont, Texas, and is a 2011 graduate of Washington and Lee University. She is the publicity coordinator for the Student Environmental & Animal Law Society.

The Student Environmental & Animal Law Society (SEALS) is a club for William & Mary Law students interested in environmental and animal law, as well as community service and outdoor activities.

As concerned citizens of the global community, SEALS’s mission is to: increase awareness and involvement in environmental and animal law issues; promote and contribute to careers, service, and scholarship in environmental and animal law; encourage stewardship in public policy, jurisprudence, and law; provide opportunities for environmental and animal rights advocacy; and improve environmental policies at the College of William & Mary.

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SEALS has hosted many outstanding speakers including Virginia Assistant Attorney General Michelle Welch, who spoke about prosecuting dog fighting, Ann Swanson from the Chesapeake Bay Commission, who talked about her career in environmental policy, and Jeff Corbin of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, who explained the TMDL for the Chesapeake Bay.

1907794_750961291607428_8387471911533668927_nSEALS members have volunteered at the Williamsburg Botanical Garden, the Heritage Humane Society, and the York River State Park. In addition, SEALS has organized many engaging trips, such as excursions to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Brock Environmental Center in Virginia Beach and the Dominion Surry Nuclear Power Center on Hog Island. SEALS has also hosted canoeing events on Lake Matoaka.

SEALS completed its first Green Fee project last year by erecting a map kiosk at the trail head in the College Woods behind the Student Rec Center. SEALS also collaborates with the on-going partnership between the Virginia Coastal Policy Clinic, the Greater Southeast Development Corporation and Southeast CARE Coalition of Newport News, VIMS, William & Mary’s School of Public Policy, and the Black Law Students Association that addresses local sea-level rise preparation and environmental justice. SEALS looks forward to furthering its mission in the 2015-2016 academic school year.

To see the latest SEALS news, visit us our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/WMSEALS.

This post is a part of a series featuring William & Mary Law School’s student organizations. All post are written by student leaders. To read more student organization blog posts, click here

 

Christian Legal Society

zimmermanby Liesel Zimmerman, Class of 2018

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

borkby Emily Bork, Class of 2018

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

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

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

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Public Service Fund: A Fun Way to Get Involved

willisby Blake Willis, Class of 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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