It’s Back! Thanksgiving Baskets 2018

Despite our finals season stress, William & Mary students try to find time to give back during the holidays. Each year, the Black Law Students Association hosts the Thanksgiving Basket Thanksgiving BasketCompetition. All the 1L sections compete, arranging their givings in a creative manner that will grab the attention of the judges. And the 1Ls really do get creative. Last year, the winning section made their Professor, Dean Kaplan, out of canned goods; others created International Shoe (you’ll laugh once you take Civil Procedure) and other puns from our law school experience. Displays are graded on creativity, the diversity of products, and the quantity of goods. Each section sets up the night before the judgment and claims their spot for their structure. You are able to watch everyone’s ideas slowly form over time.

My section opted for the simple yet elegant Supreme Court. Our Court’s docket was out of the ordinary–we brought suit on behalf our professors and Legal Practice Fellow.

All and all, my 1L class collected over 2,000 items that were delivered to the William & Mary Campus Kitchen, who then organized the items into Thanksgiving baskets for families. Although Section 2’s Supreme Court made out of mainly cans and pasta did not come out on top, it was a great experience to bond. Not only does the law school collect items for those in need, it gives everyone an opportunity to see how thankful they are for their section and the law school community. I’m excited to see what the 1Ls bring to the table this year!

Results aren’t in from this year’s competition, but students collected over 4,000 cans and pantry items! Make sure to follow our Instagram, wmLawAdmissions, for the final winner! 

Brooke Lowell is a 2L from Rockland, Maine. She attended Simmons College and earned her degree in Political Science in 2017. Brooke is currently a member of the Public Service Fund and serves as the Vice President for Equity Alliance. She also works as a member of the Bill of Rights Journal staff. Last summer, she served as a graduate research assistant for Professor Evan Criddle at William & Mary Law School and will continue to work at the Legal Aid Society of Eastern Virginia as her externship for the year.

Let’s Get Personal

Application season is here, and William & Mary Law School has already received a number of strong applications for the Class of 2022! Many of you, however, are still in the midst of completing your applications, and one topic we often get questions about is the personal statement. Associate Dean for Admission Faye Shealy took the time to outline a few tips for personal statement success this week – certainly it’s not an exhaustive list, but hopefully this will give you a good idea of the things that we, and often many law schools, are looking for.

What should I write about?

library (47)You, you, you! We will read your GPA and LSAT scores on the LSAC report; the personal statement is your chance to attach a personality to those numbers. We are looking to enroll a dynamic class of people with diverse backgrounds and perspectives. Everyone has a story, and we want to hear yours. Find a way to tell us who you are and what you care about. Convince us that you have something to add to our community. There is no single “right” way of constructing the personal statement. We leave you with an enormous amount of liberty to show us who you are (but do remember that you’re applying to a professional school).

Keep in mind that your extra-curricular and community activities and recommendations will be important parts of your application materials. Your personal statement should supplement – rather than repeat – your credentials. If you want to change the world, tell us why and how. Should you want to write about a past experience, explain to us how it affected you. When you write about an issue of national or international importance, show us why you are so intrigued. Read your statement aloud before submitting it. Ask yourself if it’s sincere. Ask yourself if it’s you.  We read personal statements submitted with all applications, and we can easily separate essays with a clear voice from essays that are clearly canned.

How heavily do you weigh the personal statement in relation to the rest of the application?

We conduct a comprehensive review of your application, and every aspect of the application is important. William & Mary is a small school. When we mail acceptance letters, we are not merely building a class. We are building a community. We pride ourselves on producing Citizen Lawyers, and we keep that mission in mind as we select each class.

Can a strong personal statement compensate for low numbers?

Yes.  Again, we review your application as a whole. Although your academic record and LSAT score are very important factors, each applicant should invest the time and thought necessary to produce essays that impress us.  If your numbers aren’t stellar, the personal statement is your chance to blow us away.

What is the proper length for a personal statement?

As long as it needs to be…and no longer.  We read thousands of personal statements each admission cycle. Your personal statement should be gripping – especially if you choose to write a long piece.

What about the optional essays?

If you have a genuine and specific interest in one of our programs, tell us! We want people who want to come to William & Mary, and we want to know what’s attracting applicants. You can also use an optional essay to tell us about an event in your life of which you are especially proud and couldn’t include in your personal statement.

 Is content more important than style?

No. Both content and style are very important. Most lawyers spend the majority of their days writing. Above all, the personal statement is a writing sample. It demonstrates your critical thinking skills and your capacity for creativity. It demonstrates your ability to organize information cogently and convincingly. The statement demonstrates your attention to detail. Finally, it gives us a glimpse into your character. All these qualities are important to the successful and ethical practice of law.

Any other advice?

Think and then write.  Set it aside for a day or two.  Return for a review prior to submission.  And make sure that if you highlight a specific law school in your personal statement that it matches the specific school application!