Reflections of a Recent Graduate: Special Edition

As a special edition of Get Wythe It, we asked recent graduate and former blogger Liesel Zimmerman to provide her reflections on her time in Williamsburg and as a student at William & Mary Law School. 

IMG_3357As September comes into full swing, the new semester is now well underway. Students are reuniting with friends, sorting out their schedules, and adjusting to the unique cold-calling styles of their professors. For me, it feels strange not to be settling into the familiar rhythm of Williamsburg. As a member of the most recent graduating class, this marks the first fall in three years that I’m not walking the halls of the nation’s oldest law school. The feeling is bittersweet, and has made me reflect on the ways I was impacted by my time at William & Mary.

I was drawn to William & Mary by its rich history and its sense of community. That collegial atmosphere proved to be one of my favorite aspects of my law school experience. I instantly bonded with the members of my Legal Practice Section, and made lifelong friends. From the beginning of 1L, I encountered 2Ls and 3Ls who were willing to mentor me and invest in me as I began my legal education.

My professors genuinely cared about me as a person, and wanted to see me succeed. My brilliant classmates constantly challenged me, and I count myself fortunate to have learned alongside so many gifted thinkers who are truly passionate about the law.

easter1Much of my feeling of community came from the extracurricular activities I took part in. The Christian Legal Society was a foundational part of my law school experience. It helped me stay grounded in my faith and establish enduring friendships. Through the Moot Court Team, I found my voice as an advocate. Simultaneously, it was both terrifying and rewarding to be behind the podium arguing my case to persuade the panel of judges. While writing my note for the Journal of Women and the Law, (now the Journal of Race, Gender and Social Justice), I had the opportunity to extensively research human trafficking laws in New York State. The knowledge I acquired will be indispensable as I work toward my ultimate career goal of prosecuting human trafficking cases.

SaraSapia_ThanksgivingBasketsMy time in law school proved to be tremendously challenging. Yet there are too many fond memories for me to count despite the challenge. I will forever treasure my section’s Thanksgiving Baskets display, where we incorporated all of our professors into our Star Wars-themed sculpture, “May the Torts Be Wythe You.” I’ll never forget the unparalleled experience of watching oral arguments at the Supreme Court, and meeting Justice Sotomayor with Professor Devins’ Supreme Court Seminar. I think of Dean Douglas’ and Professor Heymann’s epic Lip Sync Battle every time I hear “Shake it Off” on the radio. And I will always remember exploring Colonial Williamsburg with my roommates, and relishing the joys of living in Colonial America.

Now, for some unsolicited advice (although not legal advice – the bar results haven’t come out yet). To the 1Ls: give yourselves time to adjust to this new venture you’re setting out on. It will take a while to learn how to “do law school,” but soon you will look back on these early days and see just how far you’ve come. 2Ls, this year will present new challenges, but you will accomplish more than you ever thought possible. Know that your Tribe is rooting for you. 3Ls, enjoy this year as you take the final steps toward becoming Citizen Lawyers. The time will fly by, so be sure to make lasting memories every chance you get. And to prospective students, I hope you’ll enjoy your law school experience as much as I have. There is nowhere I would have rather spent the last three years than at William & Mary.

It’s Law Week at William & Mary Law School

welcomeclass

At William & Mary, Law Week is the first introduction that 1L students have to legal practice. The curriculum was designed to ensure that William & Mary Law students are learning about the foundational components for successful lawyering outside of the necessary coursework like Constitutional Law or Civil Procedure. Legal writing, analysis, professionalism, and networking are all vital to being a successful lawyer, as well as a successful law student! Truthfully, it can be a lot of information to take in. Dean Douglas says it best: This week, information can come at you like water out of a fire hose. We do our best to balance the week with fun socials, scavenger hunts, and plenty of ice cream.

Before their first day, the class is divided into small sections of 12 – 14 students that work with an assigned upperclass fellow and a faculty member who specializes in the field of legal writing; this way, there is a more hands-on and personalized approach to the first year of law school, and Law Week.

To give you an idea of what Law Week looks like this year, here’s a quick run-down of a few events.

Monday, Opening Ceremony in Kimball Theateropening ceremony

This is the first time that the incoming class is gathered together, not as individuals from across the country, or even as aspiring lawyers, but as a community. This year we welcomed students from across the country and around the world in the historic Kimball Theater as new citizen lawyers who will take on the rigors of law school together, challenging and supporting each other along the way.

Dean Douglas opens the morning by welcoming the class and highlighting a few of the fun facts that we’ve learned through the admission process (make sure to read last week’s post to find out some of our favorites!). He then introduces the Chair of the Honor Council who welcomes the students into the law school community by administering the Honor Code. At William & Mary, the Honor Code is one of the oldest and most revered traditions, and we ensure that every student who joins our community understands the importance of thecharge, “I pledge, on my honor, not to lie, cheat, or steal.”

Following the Honor Pledge, the Director of the Legal Practice Program addresses the class, followed by the keynote speaker. This year, we had the pleasure of hearing from Barbara Johnson, J.D. ’84. As an alumna, the former chair of the William & Mary Law School Foundation, and a current member of the Board of Visitors, Ms. Johnson’s ties to the William & Mary community remain strong, and her practice in Washington, D.C., is a testimony to her diligence in the preservation of civil and human rights. [Read more…]