Opportunity to Attend the Local Government Attorney’s Conference

willisby Blake Willis, Class of 2018

A major part of law school is networking, and William & Mary certainly provides its share of opportunities for students to meet practitioners and learn from their experiences. One recent example is the opportunity to attend the Virginia Local Government Attorney’s Conference, which was held here in Williamsburg at the end of October. The three-day conference was held at the Kingsmill Resort, just miles from the Law School, on Oct. 28-30. Each year, the conference provides a scholarship for law students who are interested in working for or with local governments in Virginia to attend – and this year, four William & Mary Law students had the privilege of attending. The conference took place over the course of three days, and had sessions which covered a variety of topics ranging from property and rezoning, foster care, new case law, employment law, conflicts of interest, legislative actions, negotiations and parliamentary procedure, bonds and pro bono work. Each session was conducted by practicing attorneys in Virginia, both those who work for the state and those who work in private practice. Attending the conference allows students the chance to hear from real lawyers who work in these areas every day, and to gather valuable information about what the practice of law is really like. The Law School has a great reputation for its commitment to public service, and this conference is a great way to learn more about public service as an avenue to practice law.

In addition to the educational sessions, the conference holds multiple social events, including happy hours, and a dinner reception. As a student attendee, these events are a great time to go and network with attorneys from across the state with whom a common interest may be shared. Further, many of these attorneys are alumni of William & Mary Law School and are always happy to meet and talk with current students. In addition, they love to hear about the current state of the law school and of Williamsburg. While the conference is not always held in Williamsburg, students do attend every year, and it’s a great opportunity to learn, meet attorneys and network, and to have fun.

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Federalist Society, American Constitutional Society Host Panel on Felons and the Right to Vote

willisby Blake Willis, Class of 2018

2016 has been a year for elections. Not only is it a presidential election year, but there have also been numerous law suits surrounding election issues around the country. In April, Virginia made headlines as its governor signed an executive order re-instating the civil rights (namely the right to vote) of 206,000 convicted felons who had completed their sentences and supervised probation. The order was called unprecedented, challenged by members of the state legislature, and eventually stricken by the Supreme Court of Virginia. It also reinvigorated a national debate about the rights of those who have been convicted of crimes.

blakeOn November 2, the Federalist Society and American Constitution Society, two national groups with student branches at William & Mary Law School, hosted a debate on the issue of felon’s rights when it comes to voting. The debate was moderated by William & Mary professor, Rebecca Green, who teaches Election Law at the Law School, and also acts as a supervisor for the Election Law Society, another student group. The debate featured 2 prominent speakers in the election law field, Hans von Spakovsky of the Heritage Foundation, in Washington, D.C., and Hope Amezquita from the ACLU in Virginia. Over the course of the debate, the two speakers discussed the policies behind different arguments both for and against felon’s rights to vote, when they should be taken away, and how they should be returned. Additionally, the two speakers took questions from the audience, a packed room of students all eager to hear what the speakers had to say.

blake 2In addition to sharing their thoughts on a hotly debated legal issue, the two speakers also took time to share a bit about each of themselves, their paths to where they are today, and advice for students who are looking for opportunities to work at the nexus of law and elections – a growing field.

The talk is yet another example of the tremendous opportunities for students at William & Mary Law School to learn from experts and tonetwork with attorneys from around the country.

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Career Conversations: A Summer at the U.S. Attorney’s Office

zimmermanby Liesel Zimmerman, Class of 2018

During the lunch hour on Thursday, October 20, the Law School lobby was bustling with people, participating in the Office of Career Services’ Career Conversations Program. Second-year and third-year students stood wearing nametags and smiles, eager to share stories of their internships from the previous summer. The Office of Career Services (OCS) arranged for students from a variety of legal backgrounds to meet with 1Ls to get them thinking about their upcoming summer job search. The interns provided a range of perspectives, from summer associates at large law firms, to summer research assistants, to interns at non-profits, to summer law clerks for federal judges, among others.

Blog1During Career Conversations, I had the opportunity to talk to interested 1Ls about my summer as a law clerk at the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of New York. I am originally from the Buffalo area, and I intend to return there to practice, so I was thrilled to gain experience within the legal market I hope to work in after graduation.

The U.S. Attorney and Assistant U.S. Attorneys serve as federal prosecutors, representing the United States in all federal cases that arise within the 17 counties of Western New York. The office is comprised of a Criminal Division, a Civil Division, and an Appellate Division. I was assigned to three supervising attorneys in the Criminal Division, who acted as mentors over the course of my internship. Each handled a unique caseload and specialized in specific types of crimes, so I learned a great deal about a broad range of cases.

Blog3My daily routine consisted of working in the law library with my fellow law clerks on legal research tasks from our respective supervising attorneys. I often accompanied my attorneys to District Court and observed court proceedings as well. On days when high profile defendants were appearing in court, the media would often stop my attorneys at the door and ask for their comments. It was incredible to have the “inside scoop” on the confidential details of these cases before they were made public!

One such case, handled by the Chief of the Criminal Division, dealt with a civil rights violation. The crime in question took place the week before I began my internship, so I had the chance to see the case evolve from the very beginning. I participated in witness interviews and meetings with opposing counsel and the FBI agents investigating the case. I also completed a legal memorandum that helped determine whether additional individuals should face charges.

Another of my supervising attorneys, who works within the Narcotics and Organized Crime Section, handled a well-known and highly publicized Buffalo narcotics case. I was able to sit in on court proceedings and contribute research to help build the case against the defendant. I also wrote a memorandum on the admissibility of hearsay evidence, which was then submitted to the District Court on my supervisor’s behalf.

Blog2Under my third supervising attorney, I learned a great deal about Human Trafficking prosecutions, an area for which I have a particular passionate. I participated in meetings of the Western District of New York Human Trafficking Task Force and Alliance, wherein representatives from numerous agencies meet to create a unified force against human trafficking in Western New York. I also wrote a memorandum that evaluated the probability of success in prosecuting a potential defendant for harboring and concealing a fugitive.

In addition to all the practical knowledge I gained by putting my writing and researching skills to use, my attorneys taught me how to be a successful professional in the legal field. My summer at the US Attorney’s Office confirmed my desire to become a prosecutor, and I was grateful to get to share my experience with my peers.

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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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Reading Groups Make for Lively Discussions Among Faculty and New Students

by Vinayak Balasubramanianvinayak, Class of 2019. Blog post reproduced with permission of the Communications Office.

There are many fears that are common among incoming law students. For some, there is nothing scarier than an unsolicited interaction with one of those incredibly smart law professors at the front of each classroom.

But that was not the case at Chowning’s Tavern in Colonial Williamsburg, where six 1L students gathered with Professor Thomas J. McSweeney on a hot August day to discuss “The Return of Martin Guerre” by historian Natalie Zemon Davis. The book explores a legendary sixteenth-century French legal case.

As they sipped on cold beverages and enjoyed some appetizers, the group engaged in a lively chat about various themes presented in the book, including the French legal system in the Middle Ages, the role of women during that time period, and the growth of state power over the church. Over the course of that discussion, the students connected with the professor and got to know each other.

“One of my goals was to get people talking to each other, and I thought that went very well,” McSweeney said, reflecting on the meeting. “There were interesting questions and reactions, and the conversation was very lively and collegial.”

Professor Thomas J. McSweeney, second from left, and 1L students discussed "The Return of Martin Guerre" during a get-together at Chowning's Tavern.

Professor Thomas J. McSweeney, second from left, and 1L students discussed “The Return of Martin Guerre” during a get-together at Chowning’s Tavern.

McSweeney’s group is one of 14 led by faculty that make up William & Mary Law School’s 1L Reading Group Program. Among the books chosen this year by participating faculty for discussion were “The Autobiography of an Execution” by David R. Dow, “Gideon’s Trumpet” by Anthony Lewis, and “Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates. (See this year’s list of books and faculty discussion leaders.) According to Rhianna Shabsin, Senior Assistant Dean for Admission, there were 159 1L participants this year (more than two-thirds of the new class).

Over the summer, all incoming 1L students were sent an email inviting them to sign up for a group. Professors then reached out to the students in their groups to schedule a time and place to meet. Many groups met at restaurants or at professors’ homes.

Vice Dean Laura Heymann said the program was launched in 2015 to provide new students with an opportunity to get to know the school’s faculty and to expose students to legal topics in a casual setting.

The reading groups covered a large array of legal topics, including legal history, religion, terrorism, race, criminal justice, and feminism. They were all designed to help students think about the law and to prompt discussions about important legal and social issues.

For example, McSweeney said he chose “The Return of Martin Guerre” because it helps provide a framework for students to understand legal texts. He said that the story is constructed using facts from depositions that later permit the judge—and by extension the reader—to draw conclusions about the heroes and villains.

“It helps us understand how legal actors become characters in a story,” he said. “Events may not have significance at the time of occurrence, but they must come together in the end to tell the story.”

Kelly Ann McCarthy, a 1L student in McSweeney’s group, said that she participated in the program because she thought it would be a good opportunity to get to know a professor outside of class, as well as an excuse to read something other than a legal casebook.

“It was interesting to see how students applied what we were learning in class to non-class materials, and how different aspects of the law met in one place,” she said. “It was also interesting to see how records of legal proceedings provide a window into a different time.”

Heymann said that she had received very positive feedback about this year’s program.

“Both students and faculty seemed to have really enjoyed the experience,” she said. “I’ve heard from some students that the books they discussed caused them to see things in new ways, both within and outside the classroom.”

1L Perspective- The First Month

zaleskiby James Zaleski, Class of 2019

Just like that the first month of law school has come to an end! It has been a month filled with stress, late nights, and exhaustion but I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Now is a good time to reflect back on the first month of this crazy transformative experience we call law school.

Classes have consumed the majority of my time this first month. All 1Ls take the same classes during the first year. The classes I am taking this semester include: (1) Criminal Law, (2) Civil Procedure, (3) Torts, (4) Legal Writing, and (5) Lawyering Skills. One of the rumors about law school that I quickly found to be true is the copious amount of reading! Law school professors assign multiple cases for each class. The readings are complex and often the main point of the case is not particularly clear. I frequently find myself reading the cases multiple times. However, after just one month of practice, I know my classmates and I are increasing our proficiency and are on our way to becoming savvy case readers.

The professors are some of the most brilliant and accomplished instructors I have had in my academic career. As a former high school teacher, I have an appreciation for excellent teachers. All of my professors are experts in their field; they have a passion for teaching their material and challenging students to think critically about the law. One way professors cultivate this atmosphere of learning is through the Socratic Method. I received a personal introduction to the practice during the first week of classes. My classmates and I have found that the rumors regarding the Socratic Method to be overblown. The Socratic Method ensures everyone comes to class prepared. It keeps the class engaged and challenges students to arrive at key insights. While everyone was nervous the first week, I feel most people have become accustomed to the method and enjoy the rigorous discussion it provides.

I also spent a lot of time this past week preparing for my first law school exam. While most law school classes only have final exams, several professors offer midterms. These midterms help relieve some of the anxiety over final exams because they serve as a good introduction to the law school exam format. In preparation, I reviewed my class notes and I completed my first outline. The professor also provided a hypothetical that I used to practice responses. The most challenging aspect of the exam was the time crunch! My classmates and I are anxiously awaiting the results.

student orgsOutside of class, I have found myself busy attending interest meetings for many student groups. I have attended meetings for the Immigration and Law Service Society, the Military and Veterans Law Society, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Mock Trial, and the Latino Law Student Association. These meetings are great opportunities to learn about the organization, to meet new people with similar interests, and to learn how to become involved as a 1L. A nice perk is all of them provided lunch!

The first month of law school has been a demanding experience. However, after just one month, I can already tell I am receiving a valuable education, and I am on my way to becoming an excellent attorney.

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Summer Internship with People Against Suffering Oppression and Poverty

maryby Mary Pickard, Class of 2018

Mary Pickard is a 2L at William & Mary Law School from Detroit, Michigan. Mary graduated from Spelman College majoring in Political Science with a minor in Spanish.  While attending Spelman, Mary interned with the 6th Circuit Court in Oakland County Michigan and served as a Congressional intern for Congressman John Dingell of Michigan.  During her undergraduate studies, Mary served two terms as a member of the Spelman Student Government Association as Secretary of Academic Affairs and President junior and senior year, respectively.  Additionally, Mary was a member of Phi Alpha Delta pre-law society, Pi Sigma Alpha, a Women of Excellence Scholar, and graduated Phi Beta Kappa.  While at William & Mary, Mary has been able to explore her passion for corporate, international, and human rights law.  

Entering law school and quickly beginning the job application process can be an overwhelming experience; however, with the assistance of the Office of Career Services (OCS), searching for an internship became much less daunting.  When I began school, I knew I wanted to work within the international sector, whether domestically or abroad.  I have been interested in international law for several years and understood that in order to work in any international sector, international experience was essential.  I explained these goals to my OCS dean, and she was extremely receptive and helpful with writing cover letters, interview preparation, and informing me about various job opportunities.  As I continued my job search, I was excited to learn about the internship opportunities through Professor Warren’s Center for Comparative Legal Studies and Post-Conflict Peacebuilding, which would afford me the opportunity to work abroad while broadening my legal training.

passopThis summer, I am a legal intern with PASSOP, People Against Suffering Oppression and Poverty, a non-profit organization that works to defend, protect, and ensure the rights of all refugees, asylum seekers, and immigrants in South Africa. The range of services PASSOP offers to its clients is incomparable, and because it is a smaller office, I have been able to gain experience in each legal service we provide.  Although writing appeals for asylum seekers and refugees who have been denied refuge in South Africa is the crux of our work, in the time that I have been in Cape Town, I have participated in settlement negotiations, assisted in drafting contractual agreements, met with the Department of Labour for South Africa, contested appeal decisions from the Department of Home Affairs, and handled a variety of employment and housing discrimination cases on behalf of the government and private employers.  The work at PASSOP is endless and a truly remarkable experience as it allows me to practice the skills from a variety of courses including Legal Practice, Property, and Contracts. Additionally, I am able to study and interpret the South African Constitution, the South African Refugee Act of 1998, and the recent High Court decision affecting the status of current and future refugee permit holders.

Moreover, while in Cape Town I have the chance to meet and bond with other outstanding law students.  My friends and I love exploring Cape Town and discovering all of its beauty.  From the vibrant and welcoming people to the variety of delicious cuisines and natural wonders such as Table and Lion’s Head Mountain, Cape Town has afforded me the opportunity to expand my horizons as a scholar as well as an individual.

Overall, working at PASSOP and in Cape Town has been an enlightening experience, and I am thrilled that I was able to work for an organization that works so diligently and passionately for others. One of the best parts of working with PASSOP has been the level of responsibility I was entrusted with since the attorneys assigned me several ongoing cases in addition to daily appeals from the moment I began.  Ultimately, I felt prepared for the tasks assigned, and I am confident that the instruction at William & Mary assisted heavily in my preparation.

 

Summer Experience: IP Boutique in DC

kaseyby Kasey Koballa, Class of 2018

Kasey Koballa (Class of 2018) is originally from Wilmington, North Carolina.  She graduated from North Carolina State University with a degree in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.  While attending NCSU, Kasey played on the varsity soccer team and worked as a research assistant in an engineering lab specializing in genetically-engineered microorganisms and biomass derivatives.  Prior to entering law school, she worked as a legal intern for a solo practitioner over the summer.  As a 2L, Kasey will be working on the staff of William & Mary Business Law Review and as a board member of the Student Intellectual Property Society.  Her interests include patent law, trademark law, trade secret law, and copyright law. 

With the help of William & Mary Law School’s Office of Career Services (OCS), after preparing various cover letters and resumes, connecting with alumni, and undergoing mock interviews, I was well prepared when December 1st approached, and I could start applying for 1L summer jobs.   I came into law school with a strong desire to study patent law.  Going into my first law school job search, I had high aspirations of working at a firm in Washington, DC to gain experience in intellectual property law.  Little did I know, OCS would help make this goal very attainable.

This summer, I have been working as a Summer Associate at Rothwell, Figg, Ernst & Manbeck, an intellectual property boutique firm, in Washington, DC.  The firm specializes in various areas of intellectual property law, including patent prosecution and litigation and trademark, trade secret, and copyright law – all of which I have been able to gain experience in this summer.  Working in a boutique allowed me to interact with various associates and partners on a daily basis, which I have thoroughly enjoyed.  There was never anyone around the office that I didn’t recognize.  Further, the smaller environment allowed me to gain hands-on experience in various areas.  I was able to attend a Federal Circuit hearing, attend a deposition, draft responses to office actions, and various legal tasks which I did not expect to be assigned with only having one year of law school under my belt.  On top of enjoying the legal work, as a Summer Associate, I was able to experience the work-life balance that accompanies working in a law firm.

The firm paired each Summer Associate with a Partner Mentor and an Associate Buddy to ease the transition into the program and provide an outlet for any questions that may arise.  In addition to monitoring my workload and bearing great advice, my Associate Buddy scheduled lunches throughout the summer to give me an opportunity to see DC and get to know other attorneys at the firm.  Having spent no more than two days in the city before and coming from a small town, this was very helpful in transitioning into DC life.  Outside of the work environment, the firm hosted various social events during the twelve-week program allowing us Summer Associates to enjoy our time in the city even more.  These events consisted of going bowling and attending a National’s game, a few happy hours, and a wine tasting.

I have gained much more than I anticipated during my work this summer.  Not only have I sharpened my legal writing and analytical skills, but I have also made many connections with attorneys and law students who are passionate about intellectual property law.  The skills I have attained and strengthened this summer will be helpful as I enter my second year of law school, the 2L job search, and my fall externship at William & Mary’s Technology Transfer Office where I plan to further harness my passion for patent law.

Summer Work with DocuSign

Vignaliby Emma Vignali, Class of 2018

Emma Vignali is a rising 2L, originally from historic Old Town Alexandria, Virginia. She graduated from Auburn University (War Eagle!) with degrees in Finance and Psychology. While at Auburn, Emma developed an interest in finance and corporate governance. She spent time in Washington, D.C., interning for Senator Mark R. Warner, who serves on the Senate Committee on Finance. She then went on to intern in the office of the Chief Operating Officer for one of the largest law firms in the world. Now at William & Mary Law School, Emma serves as Secretary for the Women’s Law Society, and is a member of the William & Mary Law Review. She hopes to either practice corporate law or work in-house after graduation.

As the first semester of my 1L year quickly drew to a close, the thought of finding a summer internship weighed heavily on me. When I began law school, I hoped to eventually work in-house at a large company. However, my first semester of law school provided no substantial clarity on my future calling.  Criminal Law with Professor Combs surprisingly sparked an interest that I felt compelled to pursue. How could I be interested in two so drastically different practice areas? While confused about my future, I decided the best way to ease my mind was to spend my 1L summer immersed in one of these areas.

I began my summer internship search by implementing the first piece of advice given in law school: using my already established connections. The 1L internship search tends to be daunting, especially as students realize the number of law students across the country who are all vying for the same positions.  By reaching out to a close family friend, I solidified an interview with in-house counsel in Seattle. I was so excited to receive the position with DocuSign, Inc., as the opportunity to work in-house is a unique experience for a first year law student. I left for Seattle feeling confident that my summer would help me solidify my initial desire to work in-house.

docusignLife does not get much better than it does working in the legal department at DocuSign. On the first day, I was assigned a mentor to lead me through my ten-week journey at the company. My mentor consistently provided direct feedback on my work and became an amazing resource for career advice. It was incredible to have such close contact with a practicing attorney, especially one who truly cared about my progress throughout my internship.

I was also lucky enough to receive an abundance of interesting projects, spanning a number of practice areas and overseen by a range of attorneys. I was tasked with creating a teaching document for the company on open source licensing. Without a tech background, I found myself intimidated by the new terminology and vast amounts of information. However, receiving a project outside of my comfort zone turned into the ultimate learning experience, as I realized the research and writing skills I honed at William & Mary could lead me to be successful at anything I set my mind to. Yet, my favorite project at DocuSign was drafting a lead generation addendum to be attached to an already existing contract. The concepts taught by Professor Oman in my Contracts class became invaluable for my first contract drafting experience. Drafting an addendum from scratch was something I never imagined doing this summer, but resulted in a budding interest for transactional work.

I also found time to fit in a bit of fun in the beautiful state of Washington. DocuSign offers a bi-weekly happy hour for all employees, which became a great opportunity to get to know the attorneys outside of the office. The interns would also often take lunch breaks just a few feet away at the famous Pike Place Market. On weekends, I hiked the surrounding mountains, flew on sea planes, and even went whale watching!

As nervous as I was just a few months ago, I leave Seattle feeling sure of my goals for the future. The scenic landscape of Washington and the state’s wonderfully generous and friendly people have truly impacted me. I can now say with certainty that I plan to take the bar in Washington after graduation.  But even more relieving is the clarity I have gained on my future area of practice; I plan to pursue corporate transactional law after graduation. My internship at DocuSign allowed me to explore a field I had not previously considered, even if just briefly, and I am excited to potentially incorporate transactional work into my practice after graduation. However, that does not mean I have to dismiss my growing interest in criminal law. My hope is to eventually work at a firm where I can incorporate areas of criminal practice into my pro bono work. My summer experience in Seattle has been fun, enlightening, and completely invaluable. I am excited to return to William & Mary for my second year, where I can put the skills I learned this summer into practice.

Networking and Summer Work After 1L Year

robert jonesby Robbie Jones, Class of 2018

My name is Robbie Jones, and I am a rising 2L. I am from DeLand, Florida (just outside Orlando).  Before coming to William & Mary, I attended Stetson University in Florida where I received my B.A. in Political Science in 2014.  While an undergrad, I worked for my local Congressman and interned with a state circuit court judge. I came to William & Mary because I felt the strong sense of community when I visited the school.  At William & Mary, I am on Law Review and the Moot Court team.  I am also an Academic Success Program TA.  Some of my favorite non-law school activities are sports, traveling, and spending time with friends and family.

The summer job search can be an exciting, yet daunting activity for a 1L.  After all, I had just barely figured out how to adequately prepare for classes, and it was time for me to start thinking about what I wanted to do during the summer.  Of course, the Office of Career Services (OCS) was giving us all the help and advice we needed, but it was still a big decision to think about.  I knew I wanted to try to work for a federal judge if possible, so I figured the best place to start would be looking for William & Mary alumni who were judges.  Fortunately, I found Judge Gregory Presnell, a United States District Judge, located in Orlando who is also an undergrad alum from William & Mary.   I reached out to the judge, interviewed during winter break and was hired before I headed back for school!

The lesson I learned through all of this is the importance of just reaching out to people already in the profession.  When I reached out to Judge Presnell, he agreed to meet with me without knowing my grades, involvement at school, or really anything.  I saw firsthand the greatness of the W&M alumni network.  As important as credentials are, I’ve learned that this is a profession where connections matter.  All it took was sending an email to a federal judge (and the W&M connection!) to realize my summer job goal.

Now that I’m working, I have learned so much.  Judge Presnell gives me hands-on experience and treats me just like one of his law clerks. I have written court orders, given my input on pending issues, and observed almost every type of court proceeding in existence.  Judge Presnell will definitely be a mentor of mine long after my internship is finished.   Having a first-year summer job in a place that allows you to see the practical side of the legal profession is a priceless experience. I am so thankful to William & Mary for providing me with such great opportunities thus far!

Recent Grad Looks Back

lizrademacherby Liz Rademacher, Class of 2016

Liz Rademacher graduated from W&M Law School this May with the class of 2016. Prior to law school she attended American University completing majors in Law and Society and Psychology. This fall, she will be starting a position with Davis & Harman LLP in Washington, DC.

It’s official: I’m done with law school! As a graduate of the Class of 2016, I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on my time at William & Mary and what I’ve learned from it. Here are a few things that I wish I would’ve told myself three years ago before starting my journey here in Williamsburg:

lizgraduation1Just because you’re wrong doesn’t mean you don’t belong. Whether you answer a question wrong in class, perform less than perfectly on a midterm, or don’t make it to the last round of try-outs for the moot court team, don’t let it get you down. No one’s perfect, and neither are you. There will be days when you might doubt if you’ve really got what it takes to be a real lawyer. It can be overwhelming learning all the knowledge and skills that go into becoming an advocate, and sometimes it might seem like everyone around you knows more than you. Just remember that everyone around you feels the same way as you, even if they don’t show it, and don’t let it get you down. I once heard a professor at W&M say, “Just because you’re wrong doesn’t mean you don’t belong.” You will make some mistakes, and that’s okay. Real lawyers do too. If you maintain a positive attitude, things that seemed like obstacles at one point will become easier with time.

Take every opportunity you can get. Whether it’s an externship abroad or helping to do research for a professor, there will be multiple opportunities that will appear before you at a law school like this one. If you have a passion for a certain area of law, pursue it! Talk to your professors and older students, utilize the Office of Career Services, and figure out how to make your experience here meaningful, both inside and outside of the classroom. I’ve learned more from working in clinics and meeting with professors than I have in some classes, and it’s important to remember that.

lizgraduation2Find your people. I can honestly say that the best part about my law school experience wasn’t the things I learned or the classes I took (those were all good too though!). Instead, the best part was the people I met along the way. W&M’s community of students, faculty, and staff is so tight-knit and supportive, and it is that community that will sustain you and grow you. I’ve learned so much about the law and about life from my professors and friends here, and those connections will continue to help me in the future.

Give back. At W&M, we learn that no matter what you decide to do with your law degree, it’s important to find a way to be a public servant. Whether that means running a 5k for the Bone Marrow Drive or participating in one of the Law School’s many clinics, we learn while we’re here how important it is to be a citizen lawyer. As professionals, we will have a responsibility to help improve our communities, and I’m grateful to have learned this lesson while I’ve been here.

Remember to have fun! Law school isn’t just for boring, serious people. In the three years I’ve been in Williamsburg, I’ve been taken road trips to beaches and wineries, gone on all the rollercoasters at Busch Gardens, seen the Grand Illumination fireworks show in Colonial Williamsburg, and tasted the best Vietnamese food that Newport News has to offer. Ultimately, you have to balance work with fun, and there are ample opportunities to do that here.

lizgraduation3Liz was also a Student Admission Ambassador and student blogger. Read more about her William & Mary Law School experiences: