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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A Day in the Life of a 1L

by Liz Rademacher, Class of 2016

Now that I’ve finished the first half of my first year of law school at William & Mary, I feel like I’ve started to settle into a routine. My schedule’s a bit different each day, but here’s a glimpse into a random Thursday in the life of a 1L:

7:00 a.m. My alarm clock goes off. Time to wake up!

7:09 a.m. Okay, so I hit the snooze button just once. Waking up for real now! Time for me to shower, eat breakfast, and pack up my things for the day before I make the ten-minute commute to the law school for my first class this morning.

8:30 a.m. Time for Legal Practice! My Legal Practice class meets three times a week, twice with a legal writing professor and once with an adjunct professor who teaches my class other legal skills. Some weeks, we’ll have lectures with the law school librarians instead of meeting for class. Today my class is reviewing the basics of persuasive legal writing. I have class with my Legal Practice firm, which has only 13 other people in it.

10:00 a.m. Now I need to go to Contracts, my largest class. We’re learning about which kinds of promises are legally enforceable in a contract today (it’s more exciting than it sounds).

11:30 a.m. Time for Property, where we’re learning about adverse possession. Just a little over an hour until I’m done with all my classes for the day!

12:45 p.m. All finished with classes and now my favorite part of the day, lunch hour, is finally here. The law school purposefully doesn’t schedule classes during this time of the day to give students a chance to go to events or meetings and to eat lunch. Today, I’m going to a panel of guest speakers the Office of Career Services has organized to hear about legal careers within local, state, and federal government offices. Like most events that OCS plans during this time of day, there’s free pizza!

2:00 p.m. Time to hit the books. After the OCS event ends, I grab a snack from Greenberry’s, the law school café, and head to the law library with some of my friends. We grab a table in the sunny reading room on the first floor with a view out the window of some trees. I unpack my books, queue up my favorite study music playlist, and cozy into a reading for my Constitutional Law class.

4:30 p.m. After finishing up my reading and taking some notes, I head to a Public Service Fund meeting. I’m on the general board of PSF, so I help to plan events and fundraisers throughout the year. This meeting is about PSF’s annual fundraiser auction, which helps to raise money for students who work in unpaid public service internships over the summer. We meet for about an hour to talk about food, entertainment, and decorations for the big night.

5:30 p.m. I head home where my roommate and I like to unwind after a long day by eating dinner together. I warm up a bowl of soup as we chat about our days, and then we watch an episode of Scrubs before hitting the books again.

7:00 p.m. More reading.

9:00 p.m. I take a quick break and call my mom to say hi before I start to write a cover letter for a summer internship. Tomorrow I’ll bring it into OCS to ask one of the career services deans to review it for me—they give awesome feedback!

9:30 p.m. Done with work for the day. I surf the web for a bit and send a few emails before shutting down my laptop and curling up in bed with a good book.

11:00 p.m. Bedtime!

And there you have it—a day in the life of a 1L.

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Mock Interviews– Connecting 1Ls with Alumni

by Liz Berry, Class of 2016

It’s interview season for 1L’s and the pressure is on. For 1L’s straight out of undergrad (like yours truly) interviews with potential legal employers are a whole new world. And frankly, slightly daunting. I’m fairly certain in my first interview, I forgot my first name. I believe the interview went something like: You want to know my name and why I wanted to go to law school? Um, those are very good questions. Let me get back to you on that…

And what’s the best way to overcome interview jitters (and remember your name)? Practice, practice, practice. I’ve found that the more interviews I’ve done over the past month or so, the more confident I’ve become. The Office of Career Services had been so helpful in prepping for interviews. I’ve worked with my Dean about how to answer certain questions and, best of all, OCS set up an entire Mock Interview Day. W&M Law alumni from various legal fields were invited to campus on Friday morning, and any 1L who signed up had a “mock” but very real feeling interview with someone in a field they were interested in.

My interview was with an Assistant Attorney General of Virginia (which was perfect, since I’m interning with the Ohio Attorney General this summer. Good work matching us up, OCS).  And while this time I didn’t forget my first name, my interviewer asked some hard questions for which I was slightly unprepared. And honestly, I think that was the best thing that could have happened. I learned how to think on my toes, and the feedback I received after the interview ended gave me a better idea of ways to answer when I’m unprepared. My interviewer spent at least fifteen minutes giving me advice on how to give better answers, and how to better present myself in the future. (Sorry to the person who was interviewing after me…I was so caught up in chatting with my interviewer we may have blown past the 30 minute mark. But really, doesn’t that just show how much our alumni are willing to help? Love it.)

Overall, I think the practice interview was a very valuable experience. Interviews can only get easier from here on out…or at least I’ll be more comfortable with them. And that’s all I can ask for.

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Aromas Café Offers More than a Sweet Scent to Students

by Graham Bryant, Class of 2016

One of the most important things to look for when deciding on a law school is the availability of quality caffeinated beverages close to the campus. Conveniently, Aromas Coffeehouse, Bakery, and Fresh Café has the denizens of William & Mary covered.

Aromas stock image (2)Conveniently located on Prince George Street—an easy ten-minute walk from the law school and one street away from Colonial Williamsburg’s Duke of Gloucester Street—Aromas is an institution among William & Mary students. I also was a William & Mary undergrad, and I can honestly say that Aromas was in my top ten reasons for choosing William & Mary Law School.

Aromas offers something for everyone. If you’re into live music and local artists, they have music nights each week and occasionally even host open-mic nights. If you simply want to get your tea—or coffee—and a pastry and run, that’s fine too. You’ll just have trouble choosing among their plethora of tea and coffee blends, or settling on only one made-on-site-that-day pastry. Finally, if you want to relax with a group of friends and share a meal, Aromas has an extensive breakfast, lunch, and dinner menu that’s surprisingly affordable—even on a law student’s budget.

aromas-interior (2)In fact, one of my favorite things to do is get Saturday morning breakfast at Aromas before beginning the day’s work. And I’m not alone—every morning I’ve been there this year, I’ve run into other law students.

Despite being incredibly popular with tourists, Aromas remains a remarkably student-friendly location. Sure, my Saturday morning breakfast outings are typically swarmed with vacationers, but there are always students working on their laptops or doing readings. In fact, I drafted a sizable portion of my Civil Procedure outline while sipping tea on Aromas’ front patio. This student-friendly atmosphere is a cornerstone of the Aromas mystique, making it a great place to meet with other law students or even undergrads.

If you really want to become a regular, though, stop by Aromas at night. Usually, only locals and students are around in the evenings, and the friendly wait staff will soon know you by name. In addition to avoiding the tourist crowds, all the live music events happen at night.

As a prospective member of the William & Mary Law community, I’ll let you in on a little secret: Aromas is the best place in Williamsburg to purchase bulk coffee beans and loose-leaf tea. It’s not well advertised, but if you ask them, they’ll be happy to sell you a bag of that bean blend you love so much. You might just need to have a healthy supply when finals crunch time approaches.

So if you’re in town to visit the school, I would encourage you to stop by Aromas and get a feel for downtown Williamsburg. If nothing else, grab a slice of their chocolate overload cake. You can thank me when you start in the fall.

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Career Services Public Sector Employment Panel

by Jenn Watson, Class of 2016

On January 13th, the Office of Career Services had a panel discussion on Government and Public Sector Lawyering. It was a great opportunity to get an idea of the broad range of public sector jobs available, and the panel talked frankly about everything from grades and resumes to their personal experiences with the government shutdown.

Sharon E. Pandak BA '75, JD '78

Sharon E. Pandak, BA ’75, JD ’78

The panel moderator was Sharon Pandak, a W&M Law alumna who has served as a county attorney and is currently with Greehan, Taves, Pandak & Stoner, PLLC in Woodbridge, VA. On the panel were Robin Edwards, another W&M Law alumna who works as a patent attorney for NASA, Gilbert Earle Teal, a W&M Law alumnus who works for the Defense Contract Management Agency, Major Nora Rule and Captain Alan Serrano, U.S. Air Force Judge Advocates, and Lesa Yeatts, the Senior Deputy City Attorney of Hampton, Virginia.

All of the panel members were enthusiastic about public sector work, and spoke in particular about the wide range of opportunities available even within their individual fields. Robin Edwards noted that although her particular position required a technical background, and that she had been an engineering major as an undergrad, NASA has a variety of lawyers on staff who have different qualifications and work in various fields. Alan Serrano spoke about his experiences as a JAG on an air force base, and how he has been exposed to many different areas of law as they come up for the airmen serving on the base where he works. Nora Rule agreed, and even added that she had done research for cases in areas such as Environmental Law, which might seem unexpected. Lesa Yeatts added that her experiences as a city attorney were similar, and that municipal jobs generally involve a broad range of law. One of the positives she cited was the ability to actually affect law on the municipal level by drafting and proposing statutes and regulations.

The panel was also asked about the benefits and downsides to working for the government, particularly as regarded the recent government shutdown. The majority of the panel were federal employees, and hence had been directly affected. All of them had been without pay at the time, although they had subsequently received back pay. Robin Edwards added that she had also been affected by the shutdowns in 1995-1996. In general though, the panel was positive about their experiences working for the government and noted advantages like salary predictability, benefits, and job security as being compelling reasons to consider a career in the public sector.

As might be expected, the panel received many questions asking them what they consider from the perspective of recruiters and hirers for their respective industries. Although some of them mentioned basics, like well-formatted and carefully proofread resumes, others spoke about specific experiences with candidates and what made them stand out. Sharon Pandak told an anecdote about a time when her county wasn’t hiring, but a recent law school graduate was so enthusiastic about working there she volunteered her time, and when a position came up months later, she was hired because they knew that her work was outstanding and they were already comfortable working with her.

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Externship with the New Kent Commonwealth’s Attorney

jackbrockJack Brock is originally from Greenville, North Carolina. He earned a B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with majors in Chemistry and Political Science. As a 3L, Jack worked at the New Kent Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office as an extern.

Law students who wish to try cases during their 3L year should definitely extern at a Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office. Obtaining an externship at a Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office provides much more than courtroom experience. Other practical skills and experiences that are gained at the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office are 1) negotiating with defense counsel, 2) case preparation, 3) interviewing witnesses, and 4) drafting and filing legal documents.  This can be a fast paced job at times, and students can expect to receive a great deal of responsibility.

My own experience at New Kent was fantastic. My mentor split the docket into two; I was completely responsible for half of the criminal docket. I prepared my cases with little supervision, negotiated with defense attorneys, and made plea agreements. I tried around five or six cases in General District Court. During these trials, I made and successfully challenged objections.

An important part of this externship was learning how to think under pressure. There were times where the judge glared at me, or where my mentor stated that I could have performed better; however, I learned not to let this criticism affect me. When you are in court, it is essential to keep calm even if you made a glaring error, or if your witness freely admits a fact that is damaging to his/her credibility (and thus damaging to your case). For example, during cross examination, my witness stated that she had short term memory loss. I was appalled, and as I looked around the room, the other attorneys were laughing at me. How embarrassing, right? Wrong. I had a job to do, and I called a police officer who corroborated my witness’s testimony. We obtained a conviction.  Learning how to think quickly under pressure is one of the many reasons that this experience was valuable to me and will also be valuable to any other law student considering a career in litigation.

Externship Experience — Judicial Clerkship

by Peter Yagel, Class of 2014

peteryagelPeter Yagel is originally from Chesapeake, Virginia. He earned his B.A. in Philosophy from Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, Georgia. He spent his 1L summer working for Federal District Judge Curtis Collier in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and split his 2L summer between William & Mary’s Summer in Spain program and working for the Office of the Attorney General of Virginia. After graduating, Peter will be working for Federal Magistrate Judge Tommy Miller in Norfolk, Virginia.

In law school, we spend most of our time reading old cases, analyzing abstract concepts, and distinguishing between the laws of different jurisdictions. In practice, lawyers spend most of their time reading controlling cases, applying concepts to concrete cases, and emphasizing the law of one jurisdiction. Classes are obviously the majority of our education in law school, but I am convinced that externships are also an essential ingredient. Externships bridge the gap between our education and our work.

One of the highlights of my time at William & Mary Law has been the opportunity to gain real-world experience through externing. I specifically enjoyed working for Federal Magistrate Judge David Novak, and know that my time there has better prepared me for my job after law school. Because I knew I wanted to clerk, working for Judge Novak was incredibly valuable for me——I learned more about the job I wanted to do, gained experience actually
doing that work, and built connections with professionals in the field.

I worked on Social Security R&R’s, attended settlement conferences, and learned about the mechanics of the judiciary. I observed court proceedings, discussed the strengths and weaknesses of attorneys, and analyzed briefs. Despite being incredibly busy, Judge Novak and his clerks took time to give me specific feedback on my work, explain they work that they were doing, and give advice regarding my own job search. Hearing instruction from a Federal Judge, and having your work edited by law clerks, is a unique opportunity, for which there is no
substitute. This combination of academic-like instruction and real-world work was exactly the kind of experience that will help me transition to working after law school.

Equal Justice Works Career Fair

by Bridget Claycomb, Class of 2016

Attending law school at William and Mary provides for a variety of public service and public interest opportunities, which makes exploring careers in public service convenient and enjoyable! Because Williamsburg is only two hours from Washington D.C, some of my fellow students and I were recently able to attend the Equal Justice Works Career Fair, just outside our nation’s capital, in Arlington, Virginia.

logoThe EJW Career Fair was held on a Friday and Saturday at the end of October. Over 100 employers from across the country were present and looking for folks who are passionate about public service/public interest. Needless to say, I met law students from all over the country who missed class, drove, bused or flew hundreds of miles just for the opportunity to attend the fair. Second and third year law students were abundant as they were able to apply for one-one interviews. 1Ls were fewer and far between as we were only allowed to attend the information sessions and the “table talks” which allow students looking for internships or jobs to connect with employers.

Attending the career fair on Friday was out of the question for me, since I had a Criminal Law class at 2pm on Friday and a luncheon with my scholarship donor before, but, because we live so close, the career fair did not have to be an “attend all or nothing” event. Saturday morning, my roommate and I got up around the normal time we wake up for school and headed up to the career fair. We arrived in plenty of time for the resume workshop and for the table talks

While I felt it didn’t make sense for me to attend two days at the fair, the few hours I spent allowed me to make connections with six different employers, ask questions about what they were looking for in prospective interns, and gain information on how to strengthen my summer internship applications. As a 1L, it was nice not to lose 48 hours of my week, but still be able to take advantage of a unique and beneficial career opportunity.

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