A Law School Built on Traditions

This week, The College of William & Mary celebrates its 326th birthday at Charter Day! On Friday, February 8th, we celebrate not only a renewal of the charter from King William & Queen Mary back in 1693, we also celebrate the official inauguration of President Katherine A. Rowe and the re-investiture of our chancellor Robert M. Gates ’65! In celebration of one of the greatest traditions at the College, we asked 2L Rebecca Jaeger to reflect on some of William & Mary Law School’s traditions as well. 

Rebecca Jaeger, 2L

Rebecca Jaeger, 2L

As one of the oldest universities in the nation, William & Mary is built on tradition. As a school that has been around for this long (326 years!), there is plenty of time to establish traditions that define the school and the community. William & Mary Law School is no exception!

Bust with 2021 hatLaw student traditions kick off during Law Week. Students right away are unofficially inducted into the William & Mary Law community when they receive a William & Mary Law School hat that is embroidered with the year of their graduation. To get the hat, you first have a conversation with the Dean of the law school, which is a great way to be welcomed into the community (and have a personal conversation with the Dean). And then, you get to rock your hat for the rest of the day.

One of the most well-known traditions is the ringing of the bell at the Wren Building. In the first week as a law student, students are invited to ring the bell to signify the beginning of their William & Mary Law education. The tradition comes full circle on the last day of classes as a 3L. All students are then invited to ring the bell again, as symbol of completing their William & Mary education. The entire day, as you walk outside, you can hear the bell ringing, as students are celebrating completing their last day of classes.

239 birthdayTraditions also mark milestones in the three years that we spend as law students here. There’s a “Halfway There” celebration in the beginning of January during 2L year, and a “100 Nights Until Graduation” celebration during the spring of 3L year. I can’t attest to what it’s like to celebrate “100 Night Until Graduation” (as I have a year and 100 Nights to go), but the “Halfway There” celebration was a great way to spend time with classmates, enjoying ice cream, and thinking about how far we have come. It’s also a tradition to celebrate the Law School’s birthday each year (with cake), and let me say that it’s quite a unique experience to attend a 239th Birthday party. It’s a fun way to recognize the previous centuries of legal education at William & Mary Law and to toast to the ones to come.

The traditions at William & Mary Law help build a unique community: one rooted in history and tradition, committed to educating and developing citizen-lawyers.