Summer Experiences: Federal Government in Washington, D.C.

by Liz Rademacher, Class of 2016

lizradLiz Rademacher (Class of 2016) is originally from Newtown, Pennsylvania. She graduated from American University in 2013 with degrees in Law and Society and Psychology. While attending AU, Liz worked as an intern with several different non-profit organizations and government agencies, including the Human Rights Campaign, the American Bar Association’s Death Penalty Representation Project, and the Department of Homeland Security’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. Her interests include constitutional law, civil rights law, and the intersection of gender and the law. Liz’s passion for public service has motivated her to pursue a career in law, and attending W&M has only strengthened her commitment to helping others.

When I started my summer job search last fall, I wasn’t sure what kind of work I would be doing or where I would be by the time the summer came. I went to college in Washington, DC, and one of my summer job search goals was to find a way to return to the city. I also knew that I was interested in public service and civil rights. Fortunately, William & Mary’s Office of Career Services made it incredibly easy for me to track down these kinds of jobs in the DC metro area and choose between job offers to decide which would be the best opportunity for me.

This summer I’m a legal intern with the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, where I work in the Special Litigation Section (SPL). SPL is an office that investigates and litigates on behalf of the federal government in cases involving the rights of prisoners, juveniles, people with disabilities, people who interact with state and local police departments, and people accessing reproductive health care services. One of the things that I absolutely love about my internship is that it allows to do work with passionate attorneys on a variety of civil rights issues that are really important to me. In just the few weeks that I’ve been at SPL, I’ve already researched and written legal memoranda on civil rights issues, reviewed federal investigations findings, and helped attorneys to draft motions and pleadings at the trial and appellate level. And I still have five weeks left to go!

But it’s not all work. My office matched me up with two mentor attorneys who are always willing to grab coffee and chat, and I work with 12 other interns who love eating lunch by the White House or going to one of DC’s many happy hours after a day at the office. Different attorneys I work with frequently hold career development panels on judicial clerkships, resumes, and networking. DOJ also regularly organizes events for all of its interns, not just my section. A few weeks ago, I got to hear Attorney General Eric Holder speak, and just this week DOJ arranged for interns to take a Supreme Court tour. And when I’m not at the office, I’m exploring DC and taking advantage of all the things the city has to offer.

Ultimately, this internship has introduced me to some amazing people, given me plenty of practical experience working on issues that I care about, and helped me to sharpen my legal skills. Having an internship at an office with such a wonderful internship program has also proven to be a great advantage for me based on the kinds of events I’ve been to and opportunities that I’ve been given this summer. I’ve learned a lot about what it’s like to work with the federal government, and I’m looking forward to coming back to Williamsburg in the fall to continue building on what I’ve learned at DOJ!

Learn more about our Student Bloggers here.

Summer Experiences: Law Firm in Silicon Valley

focarinoBrian Focarino is originally from Fairfax Station, Virginia. He earned his B.A. from William & Mary with majors in government and linguistics, and his M.Sc. in linguistics from the University of Edinburgh. As a 3L, Brian will be a member of the W&M Appellate & Supreme Court Clinic and serve as Executive Editor of the Law School’s Business Law Review.

I’m spending my 2L summer in Silicon Valley as a summer associate at Cooley, a firm headquartered in Palo Alto, CA. At Cooley, my work focuses on trademark, copyright and advertising litigation, intellectual property litigation and general business litigation, in addition to pro bono matters. I’ve worked on a host of litigation projects for the world’s most exciting established and emerging companies. In six weeks, I’ve written memos on the copyright implications of viral memes, trademark issues with new mobile “apps,” unique questions relating to shareholder derivative suits, and private and public company securities litigation. I’ve attended court and client meetings, and completed training in topics such as the lifecycle of companies and the anatomy of an initial public offering.

Cooler still, I’ve had meaningful exposure to pro bono work, participating in a legal aid clinic in rural Marin County, California, a housing clinic in San Francisco, and contributing to an affirmative application for political asylum on behalf of one of Cooley’s pro bono clients. Outside the office, I’ve spent time on Monterey Bay with all of the firm’s summer associates from across the country, attended countless events and mixers hosted by the firm, met brilliant lawyers, and made some incredible friends.

I’ve been thinking all summer about how cool it is that America’s oldest law school prepares its students to practice all kinds of law, for all kinds of clients, in all kinds of environments, all over the world. Because of that, jumping between Colonial Williamsburg and Silicon Valley couldn’t be easier. I’m having an eye-opening summer, and I owe it to William & Mary for helping prepare me to make the most of it.

Here are Brian’s other posts: Halfway Through BBQ, Thanks, and Meet a Member of the Class of 2015!

Summer Experiences: Law Firms in WV & NH

sheaBrian Shea is originally from Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. He received his B.A. from Dartmouth College in Government with a minor in Spanish. At William & Mary, Brian is the Editor-in-Chief of the William & Mary Business Law Review and a member of the Law School Honor Council. 

After working at a law firm in New York City for two years before law school, I knew that the law firm environment was where I wanted to end up. I took advantage of the law school’s on-campus interview program during the winter of my 1L year, and landed a summer associateship at Steptoe & Johnson in Bridgeport, West Virginia. At Steptoe I gained exposure to a variety of corporate and business litigation matters, the majority of which stemmed from West Virginia’s booming coal and natural gas industries. I have always been interested in the legal and compliance concerns of the energy sector, given the robust regulatory regime that governs it and the often contentious political climate that surrounds it. Steptoe afforded me exposure to a range of issues relevant to its energy clients, everything from eminent domain and lease disputes to bankruptcy and antitrust.

This summer I am working at McLane Law Firm, a mid-sized firm in Manchester, New Hampshire, close to my family and geographically where I hope to settle. Unlike larger firms, McLane hires associates into just two practice tracks–corporate and litigation. My focus has been primarily corporate, and after six weeks, I have already been staffed on several M&A transactions, as well as securities, tax, and corporate governance matters. By working at McLane, I hope to emerge with a more robust corporate skill set than I might at a larger firm with specialized, discrete practice areas. The most personally impactful aspect of my summer, however, has been the opportunity to work with several of McLane’s pro bono clients, helping them to navigate complex issues of personal bankruptcy and post-divorce asset distribution. It is particularly rewarding to know that my legal training can have a meaningful and positive impact on individuals living in the state where I grew up. My summer has certainly helped to fortify my sense of what it means to be a Citizen Lawyer.

I look forward to returning to William & Mary in the fall to build upon my practical business acumen as an extern at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, and by participating in the law school’s Federal Tax Clinic.

Summer Experiences: House Judiciary Committee

lukishTom Lukish is originally from Richmond, Virginia.  Choosing to remain in the Commonwealth for his undergraduate studies, Tom graduated from Virginia Tech in 2013 with a B.A. in Political Science.  In his second year at the Law School, Tom will be joining the staff of the William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal, as well as serving on the Board of William & Mary’s chapter of the Virginia Bar Association.

One of the many wonderful things about William & Mary is the incredible Office of Career Services (OCS).  In the first meeting with my counselor, Dean George Podolin, the two of us discussed my hobbies, interests, career goals, and a number of things in between.  Upon learning of my desire to become involved with the federal government, Dean Podolin suggested that I do two things: research a variety of avenues to our nation’s capital, and reach out to individuals in government whom I have met over the years.  Very fortunately, I applied to and was offered a position with the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary.

The House Judiciary Committee passes a high number of bills each year, and it has been an absolute pleasure to assist counsel, staff, and Members of the Committee in their effort.  Addressing a variety of areas of the law, the Committee regularly holds hearings and drafts legislation relating to the U.S. Constitution, crime, homeland security, immigration, and intellectual property.

Thus far, my experience with the Committee has been nothing short of spectacular.  Placed within the Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security, I have been able to use the writing, communication, and research training I gained at W&M to help Congress address one of the nation’s most pertinent issues.

One of the more thrilling aspects of this position is that each day presents something new.  No day is identical to the last for many offices on Capitol Hill, and while subcommittees remain consistent in terms of their overarching focus, the same is true for Members and staff of the House Judiciary Committee.  The myriad of current events and challenges facing this country, in combination with the inherent excitement that accompanies the Hill, has made for an unforgettable experience.  I could not be more appreciative of the opportunity to use my legal education to enter the world of American politics and public service.

Very thankful for what OCS and the entire W&M Law community has helped me with thus far, I hope that my experience in Washington will encourage other students interested in government to look into the plethora of opportunities that exist in D.C.  It is a tremendous feeling working in a way that serves the country as a whole, and I look forward to hopefully working in or around government in the future.

Summer Experiences: Law Clerk at Ohio Attorney General

liz berryLiz Berry is originally from Westfield Center, Ohio. She earned her B.A. from Otterbein University, double majoring in History and Political Science. She is spending her 1L summer at the Ohio Attorney General, Education Division.

Since I’m sure everyone reading this blog post has been diligently following me since I began my writing career for the Admissions Office last autumn, you may consider this an addendum to “May the Internships be Ever in Your Favor.” Because I really lucked out and landed a great one.

I’m spending my summer as a law clerk with the Ohio Attorney General. And in case you’re like my friends and asking “how’s it feel to put people in jail?” let me just clarify by stating that I’m working in the Education Division. And really, truly, honestly, I promise. We do not put people in jail. Or at least we haven’t in the seven weeks I’ve been working.

My section represents the 30+ public colleges and universities in the state of Ohio, as well as the Ohio Department of Education. We deal with lawsuits by or against the colleges, can be used by the colleges as general counsel if so desired, and we also litigate teaching licensing and child nutrition hearings. My mentor and I joke that the section is more like a litigation firm than anything else. And luckily for me, that means there’s plenty of substantive legal work to do.

So what have I been up to this summer? Plenty of research and memo assignments on general legal topics…having a working knowledge of Civ Pro and Contracts has definitely come in handy. I’ve had the opportunity to work on two briefs for administrative hearings and also write my own (supervised) motion to dismiss! Needless to say, it was really exciting that they trusted me enough to draft work with the AG’s name on it. The program has also provided plenty of out-of-the-office experiences. I’ve been able to attend several court sessions (our section was actually involved in a three week federal jury trial where I was put on the stand! (only to read a deposition but it still counts)), administrative hearings, and even sit in on a settlement. The law clerks have met the AG, judges, court clerks, and been able to attend resume and writing workshops. It’s been a busy summer, and I’m almost disappointed that there are only four weeks left. Still, I’m excited to get back to W&M to see what opportunities 2L year will bring!

Life in the Gradplex

by Jenn Watson, Class of 2016

gradplex2When I first arrived at the Gradplex as a 1L, it was still pretty empty. I was assigned to a quad, which I requested because I thought two bathrooms sounded way better than one. I hadn’t met my roommates, but I’d been told who they were and was looking forward to getting to know them. Although I know some people with roommates in the business and education schools, all of mine were fellow law students!

The Gradplex has been a good place to live. As someone coming from out of state and intending to return there to work, it’s nice to be able to rent an apartment just for the school year and not have to worry about subletting. The fact that the rooms are reasonably furnished is a big plus, I get to have a nice big desk and bookcase that I definitely wouldn’t have been able to haul down here without a moving truck.

The proximity to the law school itself can’t be beat! It’s a shorter walk from my apartment to the law school than it is from the commuter parking lots to the law school. It’s great to be able to go home between classes when I have a break and grab lunch or switch out my books.

gradplex1There aren’t too many things I would change about living in the Gradplex. Although it was kind of annoying not having a dish washer, I got used to it, and my roommates and I are all fortunately pretty neat so nothing ever piles up in the sink. The air conditioning and heating systems work great, and all the appliances may look old but they’re completely functional. Campus maintenance does a good job of coming to fix anything with issues. Probably one of the most regularly irritating things is that I can’t get packages here, and have to go over to the campus mail center to pick up packages, but at least my PO box here can receive letters from my friends and family.

Most of the people I’ve met here have been great! The study breaks and gatherings can be fun, and the RAs are all really available and outgoing. Everyone is friendly, and a lot of people are returning here next year, including me.

Have a great summer, Gradplex! I’ll see you next year.

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Learning from Justice Kennedy

by Liz Berry, Class of 2016

In law school, Supreme Court justices become your best (or worst) friends. You can laugh about their opinions…and sometimes criticize them for failing to match every other opinion you’ve read. Either way, you develop a very, very close bond with the Justices and their writing. You probably spend more time with them than your friends. But have you ever thought that you’d be able to meet a Supreme Court justice? How about have one teach your Constitutional Law class? Never, right?

kennedyWell, if you’re in Professor Zick’s Constitutional Law class (or one of the lucky lottery winners who filled the back of our room), you had had that opportunity last week. Justice Anthony Kennedy came to “teach” our class on Wednesday, April 9. Covering everything from federalism, to the commerce clause, to individual rights, Justice Kennedy was clearly passionate about his work and happy to be back in front of a classroom.

I think my favorite line of the class was (something very similar to what’s in quotes) “When is this thing over? Because I have a lifetime job…I can stay.” I only wish we could have convinced him to stay and tell us how to get an A on the final….

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French Cuisine on a Law School Budget?

by Liz Rademacher, Class of 2016

A few weeks ago, my boyfriend came to visit me for the weekend. He lives in Georgia, so whenever he makes the trip up to Virginia to see me it’s a bit of a special occasion. To celebrate, we made reservations at one of the restaurants in Williamsburg that I’ve been dying to try ever since someone raved to me about how amazing its food was: Le Yaca.

Before I go on, full disclosure: I’m a bit of a food snob. Before starting law school, I spent four years at college in a big city, where you can find virtually any kind of cuisine or type of restaurant at literally any hour of the day or night. When I moved to Williamsburg, I had very, very low expectations about the variety of food that I would find here. Fortunately, this is one of the times that I am happy to admit that I was totally wrong. Williamsburg has all sorts of restaurants with delicious fare and international flare—and often with reasonable prices, which is something all law students can appreciate.

Le Yaca FireplaceOne of those places is Le Yaca, Williamsburg’s premier French eatery. A staple for anyone in town who loves the taste of homemade European cooking, Le Yaca has been satisfying palates and filling stomachs here since 1980, and I can totally understand how it got its reputation as one of Williamsburg’s best restaurants. When my boyfriend and I arrived for our dinner, we were greeted by a roaring fire and simple, barn-like décor. The smell that hit us as we walked through the door was amazing—warm bread, wood smoke, and roasting meat, exactly like you would expect in a tiny mountain village somewhere in the Alps.

Le Yaca SteakTo start our three-course dinner, we both had hot bowls of French onion soup and baguettes. For my entrée, I had pepper-crusted beef tenderloin glazed with a Cognac sauce on top of some crunchy greens and roasted potatoes. My tender, juicy steak was cooked perfectly. As I cleaned my plate, I was so distracted by how delicious my meal was that I had almost forgotten that we’d ordered dessert as well. My boyfriend ordered a rich crème brulée, while I ate an airy lemon mousse topped with fresh raspberries. After we finished eating, we stayed at our table chatting by the fireplace, too full to move, before finally leaving the cozy restaurant for the night.

It’s always nice to take some time off between writing memos and applying for internships to enjoy some of the finer things in life. Perfect for anything from a casual brunch to a romantic night on the town, Le Yaca’s inviting atmosphere and excellent menu make it easy to do just that. Sure to please anyone looking for a taste of France here in Williamsburg, this restaurant is not one to miss.

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The Cold Never Bothered Us Anyway

W&M Law’s 2014 Habitat for Humanity Spring Break Trip

by David Weilnau, Class of 2014

davidMy name is Dave Weilnau, and I’m a member of the class of 2014. I grew up in Green Lane, PA, and did my undergrad at Ursinus College in the Philadelphia area. I came to law school because I was interested in public service and saw the law as a vehicle for social justice. Three years later, I know I made the right decision. I lead Volunteer Service Corps, a public service organization at the law school. My dream job is to work in a legal aid office and provide free legal services to Virginia’s poor.

One of the best things about William & Mary law students is their commitment to public service. Each spring break, a student group called Volunteer Service Corps leads a squad of citizen lawyers to a (hopefully warm) Habitat for Humanity site to build some new houses, explore some new places, and make some new friends. This year, four of us made the journey: your humble author (2014), Summer Chu (2015), Rebecca Skrzypek (2015), and Elizabeth Buner (2016).

habitat 1

Our chosen site for 2014 was Sumter, South Carolina. Located near the center of the state, Sumter struggles with poverty, crime, and racial tensions. Fortunately, it is also blessed with a caring community that dreams of making Sumter a better place.

We arrived in Sumter on Sunday evening, March 2, and were quickly introduced to our hosts, the generous congregation and staff of the Church of the Holy Comforter, and were whisked away for a baked spaghetti dinner at the Salt & Light Church. Back at Holy Comforter, we made shameless use of the facility’s air hockey table and copy of Dance Dance Revolution before retiring for the evening.

We had a busy first day at the worksite. With the help of a group from Boston College, we framed the porch. But dark, forbidding clouds loomed on the horizon, and our supervisors spoke in hushed voices of the frigid weather to come. That afternoon, we watched in horror as the temperature dropped from seventy degrees to thirty in about two hours. Hard times were upon us.

The following morning, the work site was twenty-five degrees and windy. We had not packed for the temperatures that now confronted us. It was the kind of exposure that recalibrates your body’s sense of what cold is. But we had come to Sumter to build a house, and that was what we were going to do. Without any feeling in our extremities, we straightened the walls and began to install trusses. On Wednesday, a steady cold drizzle soaked us through. Nevertheless, it didn’t stop Summer, Rebecca, and Liz from building some of “the best T’s and corners” our supervisor had ever seen.

On Thursday, alas, the weather finally beat us. Driving rain made work at the site impossible. We spent the day cleaning a local homeless shelter and sorting cans at a local food bank. On Friday, amidst persistent precipitation, we did moving work at the Habitat ReStore. We returned to Williamsburg that evening cold, wet, tired, but triumphant.

I am extremely proud of the group we had this year. We were small in number, but adversity tested us and found us strong. To give up your spring break is one thing; to give it up to hit your numb fingers with a hammer twenty times is something else entirely. I am honored to have worked and spent the week with Summer, Rebecca, and Liz; despite the difficult conditions, they all remained positive and enthusiastic. This was my final trip with Volunteer Service Corps, and I leave with the comfort of knowing that the future of the organization is in good hands.

BLSA Oliver Hill Banquet

by Phillip Lecky, Class of 2015

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

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

OliverHillDinner2014 (166) (2)

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How “GRF” Becomes a Verb – Life as a Graduate Research Fellow

by Lauren Bridenbaugh, Class of 2016

It is undeniable that cost is a significant factor in deciding what law school to attend. Between in-state versus out-of-state tuition, living expenses, and available financial aid, there are many factors to consider in determining what law school has the “best value” for you. Scholarships can play a substantial role in making the cost of a law school manageable. Luckily, a key program at William & Mary can put a serious dent in William & Mary’s already comparatively low cost.

Law LibraryThe Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRF) was part of my financial aid package when I was accepted to William & Mary. GRF’s are for out-of-state residents and gives the student in-state tuition and a stipend in exchange for working 8 hours per week. The type of work each 1L GRF receives varies but it typically consists of four hours per week in the law library and four hours per week working for an administrative office. For example, I work four hours per week for the Reference Desk in the library and four hours per week for the Admissions Office (part of my GRF is writing these blog posts for ya’ll). However, other students work for the Circulation Desk in the library, the Office of Career Services, and many others.

Depending on what office you are in, your experience varies but there are a myriad of benefits beyond the in-state tuition and stipend. GRF is listed on your resume as an honor which is obviously attractive to potential employers. It also gives you connections working with the administrators in your particular office and the law librarians. You often learn a lot about doing research in the library and where various books and journals are located. Furthermore, after your first year you have the opportunity to fulfill your GRF hours by working as a research assistant for a professor, working as a legal practice program fellow, or continuing to do library/administrative work.

If you have been offered a GRF, it is an offer worth considering. You make connections with faculty and staff, learn a lot about the operation of the law school and the law library, have the opportunity to work with professors, and impress prospective employers, all with relative ease!

Read about other GRF experiences:

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