Michael Toner Talks Elections

lennonby Kate Lennon, Class of 2017

On March 2nd, law students interested in Election Law were able to enjoy a lunchtime talk with Michael Toner. Mr. Toner is a current partner at Wiley Rein and the former FEC Chairman. He was also the Chief Counsel to the Republican National Committee and General Counsel to the Bush-Cheney 2000 Presidential Campaign. The discussion began with Mr. Toner speaking about the changes in election law and finance in regards to recent Supreme Court cases, as well as what changes to Court’s make-up could mean for the future in Election Law. Mr. Toner discussed that this is a time of deregulation, but if some of the more conservative justices retire, we could see more increased regulation again in the next ten years.

Michael Toner

Michael Toner, former Chairman of the Federal Election Commission (FEC)

As the discussion moved into a question format, the topic turned more towards the future of campaigns. Mr. Toner explained that we no longer live in a world where a successful presidential candidate can get by on a few million dollars in donations. With President Obama breaking records with donations in the $750 million range, Mr. Toner predicted a 2016 election campaign potentially breaking the billion-dollar mark. He found this to be particularly likely with candidates like Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush potentially taking significant roles in the 2016 election.

It was clear from the start that Mr. Toner was personally fascinated with Election Law. He stated at one point that he chose his career path because he was able to combine his two interests in law and politics into one job. His enthusiasm about the topic spread through the room and really drew the attention of the professors and students. As a first year student, the novelty of having such interesting and accomplished speakers here at our school has not yet worn off. I am not sure that it even will at all. Every day at the law school is a new experience, and lunchtime speakers like this one are just one of the many avenues for these experiences.

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Student Legal Services Provides Law Students an Opportunity for Hands-On Experience

keefeby TJ Keefe, Class of 2017

Given the many hours of  independent reading and researching that accompany a 1L experience, I sometimes lose track of how interpersonal the legal profession really is.  Although esoteric legal concepts frequently occupy my thoughts, I try to remember that the practice of law is really the act of solving real-world problems for real-world individuals.  In the spirit of this mindset, I decided to join William & Mary’s Student Legal Services team.

Blow Memorial Hall  (2)Student Legal Services  was established by William & Mary Law students who hoped to use their abilities to serve other members of the College community. The organization is entirely student-run, and relies on over thirty-five volunteers to staff its office on William & Mary’s main campus.  From room 316 in Blow Memorial Hall, Student Legal Service volunteers research whatever legal issues the students and staff of the College bring to the office. Cases involving landlord-tenant disputes or criminal citations are common, but the office has handled a much greater variety of cases in the past.

In order to provide the best assistance possible, the Student Legal Services team has an established system. Members of the campus community are encouraged to set up an appointment in order to discuss their legal questions confidentially. Once  a member of S.L.S.  team has documented the details of an community member’s legal problem on an intake form, volunteers draw on their researching skills to find all applicable laws. As law students who have not yet passed the Virginia Bar, S.L.S. volunteers are forbidden from providing clients with any recommendations beyond the explicit text of the law. Even so, clients often leave with a much clear sense of  what laws will be applied to their specific legal issues.

I would recommend S.L.S. to anyone interested in gaining some hands-on experience with the law. Although law school can be quite academic in nature, William & Mary’s Student Legal Services has definitely provided me with the refreshing opportunity to assist with real-world legal problems.

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1L Interviewing, Part 1: The Alumni Mock Interview Program

brownby Cathy Brown, Class of  2017

Have you ever felt nervous before an interview?  One of my college friends was always petrified of the interview process, afraid of embarrassing herself or being unable to think of an appropriate answer to a tricky question on the spot.  Consequently, I’ve been involved with quite a few mock interviews over the past few years, posing as the interviewer the night before her meeting to help her practice and allay her fears.

This semester, however, I had the opportunity to practice honing my own interviewing skills when the Legal Practice Program partnered with the law school’s Office of Career Services (OCS) for the Alumni Mock Interview Program.  This program began with representatives from OCS giving a presentation on interviewing techniques in every 1L’s Legal Practice class.  In class the following week, we watched some demonstration videos illustrating examples of successful interviews and those that missed the mark.  After watching the clips, we had the opportunity to critique them as a class.  We also split into pairs and practiced interviewing with a classmate so we could practice fielding difficult questions in a friendly atmosphere.

Finally, the program culminated on January 30th, when each member of the 1L class was assigned to have a mock interview with a William & Mary Law School alum.  To make the experience as rewarding as possible, the Office of Career Services assigned students to an interviewer from a field that matches our potential legal interests.  For example, I’m tentatively interested in practicing family and elder law at a small firm, and my alumni interviewer – who started his own small firm – specialized in juvenile dependency.  To make conditions as realistic as possible, students were asked to dress professionally and conduct some preliminary research on the interviewer’s work.

Admittedly, I was a little nervous before going into my interview; however, my interviewer was extremely friendly and clearly excited to be back at his alma mater, helping to train the next generation of lawyers.  After a nice twenty-five minute conversation and a few minutes of helpful feedback, he sent me on my way, feeling more confident in my ability to be professional and express myself in the interview setting.

This mock interview program couldn’t have come at a better time, since my classmates and I are beginning to be called in to interview for summer internship positions.  Next week, for example, I head to Richmond for an interview at the Government & Public Interest Interview Program (expect an update on that in my next blog post!).  Although I’m sure I’ll still have butterflies in my stomach before the interview, at least I can go into the program knowing that William & Mary has given me a unique opportunity to develop interviewing skills, and has given me the tools I need to succeed.

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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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Love and the Law: Not Mutually Exclusive

graham bryantby Graham Bryant, Class of 2016

Every Valentine’s Day, we here at Get Wythe It! like to highlight couples from the Law School who met, became engaged, or were married during their time at William & Mary. Some examples can be found here, here, and here. This past year, we learned that just over one quarter of all William & Mary alumni across the university’s various campuses are married to one another. I’m nothing short of thrilled to say that I will soon count myself among that number.

I’m a 2L, and last semester I proposed to my longtime girlfriend Mary Seward, a first-year biology master’s student in the School of Arts and Sciences on the main campus. Mary and I have known each other for years, but we began dating the summer before I began my undergraduate career at William & Mary.

Because Mary did her undergrad just down the road at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, we spent many of our courting days on the William & Mary campus and walking the byways of Colonial Williamsburg.

View More: http://chelseaandersonphotography.pass.us/graham-and-maryI opted to stay at William & Mary for law school, and Mary joined me at the College by pursuing her biology graduate work here as well. In addition to our dates across the historic campus and surroundings in Williamsburg, we’ve spent a number of fond evenings together in the law library getting our respective projects done.

I proposed to her this fall at the Cascades waterfall in the western part of Virginia, but when the time came for our engagement photoshoot, I could think of no better surroundings than Williamsburg, my backyard for five years now.

View More: http://chelseaandersonphotography.pass.us/graham-and-maryThe campus and Colonial Williamsburg were particularly appropriate for us, not only because of their sentimental meaning for Mary and myself, but also because the wedding ceremony itself is set for August 2016 in the historic Wren Chapel in William & Mary’s Sir Christopher Wren Building. Mary and I all but bleed green and gold, so we can’t imagine a better venue.

I’m now halfway through my time at William & Mary Law School, but I couldn’t be more excited about what lies ahead: three semesters, the bar exam, my wedding, and then we’ll see what life has in store. None of this would’ve been possible without William & Mary, where Mary and I have both met our closest friends, deepened our relationship, and gained the educations needed for a successful future life together.

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Externship with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation

hubbardby Matt Hubbard, Class of 2016

I am originally from Richmond, Virginia, and I attended the University of North Carolina at Wilmington where I received a degree in Political Science. After graduating I was a staffer for a U.S. Senate campaign in Virginia and also a Director with YMCA Camps Sea Gull and Seafarer. I currently serve as an Assistant Symposium Editor for the William and Mary Environmental Law and Policy Review and am a member of the National Trial Team. 

This past fall semester I had the privilege of accepting a legal externship with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF). I had looked forward to the externship program since coming to law school, eager for the opportunity to earn class credit while also receiving real life work experience. I hope to practice within the field of environmental law, and a semester with CBF presented an excellent opportunity to both gain experience in this area of law while also serving the important mission of a non-profit advocacy organization that has been working hard to protect the bay and its watershed for over 40 years.

My externship got off to an unique start when I arrived for my first day to find the office looking like a disaster zone after new carpeting had just been installed. It turned out to be the best possible way to begin the semester though, as there is no better way get to know people than moving heavy furniture together!  My supervisor, Peggy Sanner, is the Assistant Director and Senior Attorney for the Virginia section of CBF. She started me off with some standard legal research surrounding the Chesapeake Bay TMDL, or total maximum daily load, which is a set of pollution regulations developed by the EPA for all the bay states. As the semester continued my research and analysis projects became more diverse, and I was assigned more complicated tasks that were both more interesting and more challenging. My work wasn’t restricted to legal research, however, and some of my favorite days included meetings with members of the Virginia General Assembly, meetings at the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to advise the drafting of regulations, and attending a speech about the bay given by Attorney General Mark Herring.

Eel Caught in a River Pot

Eel Caught in a River Pot

The highlight of my externship came when we invited several members of the Virginia Association of Counties to come aboard one of CBF’s educational vessels for a  tour of part of the lower James River. As a group we observed oyster beds, caught several varieties of fish, and examined crabs and eels collected from CBF river pots. A true appreciation for the value of the bay and its watershed can only be achieved by experiencing it, and it was powerful to watch the participants gain this understanding.

My externship has been one of the best parts of my law school experience so far, and I encourage everyone to find an opportunity that aligns with their interests and take advantage of this unique learning experience.

Before and after pictures of planted grass to serve as a runoff buffer on the lower James River

Before and after pictures of planted grass to serve as a runoff buffer on the lower James River

Magna Carta 800th Anniversary Program

satiraby John Satira, Class of 2017

Individuals engaging in the study of law could certainly be described as a curiosity-driven and knowledge-seeking bunch. The William & Mary Law School community supports the intellectual curiosities of its students, faculty, and staff by hosting a wide variety of speakers to discuss various topics related to law. In fact, one of my many New Year resolutions for 2015 has been to attend more of the school’s speaker events. Thankfully, I was able to make strides toward accomplishing my resolution early, as educational speaker opportunities began as soon as winter break ended.

One especially interesting event I attended was a program to commemorate the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta. For those that need a quick history refresher, the Magna Carta was a charter signed by England’s unpopular King John in 1215 that asserted certain rights the monarchy could not remove from its subjects. The legacy of the Magna Carta has had a profound impact on “rule of law” legal theory, including an influence on the legal framework of early United States law.

After an introduction by Dean Douglas, three very distinguished speakers took turns discussing the Magna Carta from a variety of perspectives. The first was William & Mary’s own Professor Tom McSweeney. As one of the nation’s leading experts on the Magna Carta, Professor McSweeney spoke about how the Magna Carta’s impact was not limited to the 1215 document. In fact, McSweeney argued that the lesser-known later amendments to the Magna Carta defined the charter’s legacy more profoundly than the terms of the original document. Following Professor McSweeney, Professor A.E. Dick Howard of the University of Virginia Law School discussed the impact that the Magna Carta had on American constitutional theory, a topic that was particularly relevant to my constitutional law class this semester. Lastly, Sir Robert Worcester, chair of the United Kingdom’s Magna Carta 800th Anniversary Commemoration Committee, spoke about his own legal experience abroad and how the Magna Carta has maintained a global influence.

I thoroughly enjoyed attending the Magna Carta 800th Anniversary program, and I know I was not the only one. Many of my fellow students attended as well, and I was able to recognize a variety of professors and librarians also in attendance. It was great to see such an enlightening event get so much attention from the law school community, and I am very much looking forward to the next presentation I attend.

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A 1L Looks Back

lennonby Kate Lennon, Class of 2017

Now that I have completed my first law school exams, it seems like a valuable moment to look back on my first semester as a law student. If I were to generalize my law school experience so far, I would say it has been everything I expected while being full of surprises at the same time. Before you come to law school, others try to explain to you what law school is like. They tell you that there is a lot of writing, a lot of cold calling, and a lot of reading. In reality, all of that did happen. However, I look back and realize exactly why all of that is so important. Just recently, I looked at the writing I did in my first couple weeks of school, and it is hard to believe I wrote like that just a few short months ago! I now realize that I have improved in thinking of answers on my feet in a way I did not know was possible. And even though I was a fast reader before, I read must faster now, especially legal opinions (trust me, it’s different).

Even beyond the academic challenges, I never realized how much of a new life experience law school would be. When I came to law school, one thing I didn’t think about was that every other first-year student would be in the same position as me. We all entered the unknown together. In the end though, this is what has bonded us. I think it is a common perception that students in law school are unfriendly toward each other because of the competitive basis behind legal education. Perhaps it is like that at other law schools, but not here. In my short time at William & Mary Law School, I have made friends that I know will last a lifetime.

All in all, I look at law school as being a stepping-stone making me into the person I want to be. Have you ever wondered how lawyers can carry themselves in a confident way? Ever wonder how a lawyer is able to think on his/her feet when making a deal or arguing in a courtroom? In the past,I know I have thought these things. All of these thoughts were commonly followed by a thought of hoping that someday I will find that type of confidence and demeanor. Well in my four months of at William & Mary Law School, I can tell you that a large reason for a lawyer’s confidence and demeanor is his/her experiences in law school. While I am not there yet, I know law school will get me there. Particularly, William & Mary Law School will get me there. Peers, alumni, advisors and professors at William &Mary Law have already been more helpful than expected. We are not here just for an education. We are here to become to lawyers.

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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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PSF’s Halloween Party

wentworthby Christie Wentworth, Class of 2018

As I’m sure you have been warned, law school can be scary. This is not necessarily for the reasons you think, though! This past Halloween, the Law School transformed into a ghouly, eerie scene. Spider webs consumed tables, statutes transformed into the ghosts of their past, and witches cackled as they greeted innocent party-goers. Over three hundred students donned their finest—or bloodiest, or wittiest, or silliest—costumes for the Public Service Fund’s Annual Halloween Party. If there is anything law students take more seriously than academics, it might be Halloween costumes!

For the price of a ticket, students got to eat, drink, dance, and, most importantly, show off their creativity. The law school was filled with movie stars, cartoon characters, skeletons, farm animals, historical figures, vampires and the like. Students voted for their favorite costume in two categories—individual and group costume—and the winners in each received prizes for their creativity.

Best Group Costume: Seven Deadly Sins

Seven Deadly Sins

Best Individual Costume: Ricky Vaughn

Vaughn2

Vaughn

As with all PSF events, the proceeds from the Halloween Party will be used to support students pursuing unpaid summer internships. Thanks to generous donations from local retailers*, this year’s event raised over $3,400!

*Thank you to the following restaurants and retailers for their generous donations: Dominos, Z Pizza, Harris Teeter, Martin’s, Trader Joe’s, Firehouse, Qdoba, Brickhouse, Emily’s Donuts & Café, Sal’s, Papa Murphy’s.

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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!

Learn more about our Student Bloggers here.

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