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Brandie Burris, BA'09 (Public Policy), Elected First Black Editor-in-Chief of Minnesota Law Review

burrisBrandie Burris, 2L, was recently elected editor-in-chief of Minnesota Law Review. She is the first Black student to hold that position in the publication’s 104-year history.

“I am honored and pleased that my peers thought that I am the right leader for the role,” says Burris, who is also a first-generation law student. “I recognize that … while I bring a wealth of experience and vision to the role, there have been so many outstanding Black law students who came long before me. A lot of people, a lot of my peers, were surprised to learn that my election was a historic first for Minnesota Law, but we're thrilled this landmark moment has happened. I think that, if anything, this says a lot about the group of editors whom I’m working with collectively. It’s not just my legacy, but it's Volume 106’s shared legacy together, and I hope that my tenure as the first African-American editor-in-chief at the Minnesota Law Review is followed by many more leaders from diverse backgrounds.”

Garry W. Jenkins, dean and William S. Pattee Professor of Law, says he is thrilled at Burris’s selection for MLR’s top leadership post. “Brandie’s commitment to excellence, to supporting her peers, and to expanding diversity and inclusion in both the Law School and in the legal profession make her a great fit for this role. Her professional work experience, as well as her involvement with the Black Law Student Association and work as a Legal Writing fellow bring a valuable perspective to our flagship journal. I am extraordinarily proud of her and her Minnesota Law Review colleagues in reaching this milestone moment for the Law School.”

“Brandie’s commitment to excellence, to supporting her peers, and to expanding diversity and inclusion in both the Law School and in the legal profession make her a great fit for this role. I am extraordinarily proud of her and her Minnesota Law Review colleagues in reaching this milestone moment for the Law School.”

 Garry W. Jenkins, dean and William S. Pattee Professor of Law

Prior to enrolling at Minnesota Law, Burris spent three years as policy director of EdAllies, a Minneapolis-based organization that partners with schools, families, and communities to ensure that every child has access to a rigorous and engaging education. Before that, she was managing director of policy for Educators 4 Excellence, a NYC-based organization dedicated to ensuring that teachers have a leading voice in the policies that impact their students and profession.

Burris was a policy fellow at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs from 2016-17. She received her B.A. in Public Policy Analysis from William & Mary, where she was a recipient of a Sarah Le Cates Humanitarian Award, a James C. Reilly Research Grant, and a Women's Leadership Fellowship. She was also a Phoenix Project Nonprofit Leadership Fellow.

Burris currently works part-time at the Minneapolis office of Berger Montague, a full-spectrum class action and complex civil litigation firm. Over her 1L summer, she participated in Twin Cities Diversity in Practice 1L Clerkship program and the Leadership Council for Legal Diversity 1L Scholars program. She also spent two months over the summer in bail support for the Minnesota Freedom Fund.

Burris serves on the executive board of the Black Law Student Association and the Diversity & Inclusion Committee of the Federal Bar Association. Last fall, she served as an orientation leader for the incoming class of first-year students.

“Having diverse perspectives on Law Review will increase the level of scholarship and help us infuse new ideas and views into legal discourse.”

 Brandie Burris, 2L, Editor-in-Chief, Minnesota Law Review, Vol. 106

Burris has identified three key priorities as she takes the helm of MLR:

  • Documenting the ways in which MLR has changed its policies and operations in response to COVID-19 and making determinations on which changes should be kept and which pre-COVID policies and procedures should be reinstated once the pandemic subsides;
  • Focusing on diversity and inclusion, including creating a petition process that feels inclusive and that encourages diverse students to apply (“Having diverse perspectives on Law Review will increase the level of scholarship and help us infuse new ideas and views into legal discourse”); and
  • Being a good leader (“I want to live out the position in the way that feels authentic to me, and to support and encourage the editors to do their best work. … I want to really empower the people who are going to be leading in each stream, … and to provide those leaders the trust and the autonomy to achieve their goals and lead their departments in their own style.”)

For other law students contemplating joining a journal, Burris’s advice is simple and to the point.

“I say, do it! I think, too often, students, especially students who are first-generation law students like I am, talk ourselves out of really amazing opportunities. I almost talked myself out of the petition process, and I wouldn't be in the position that I am now had I done that. Don’t count yourself out. It's really easy to feel like an imposter and to question whether you belong, but you absolutely do, and you might be happily surprised by what happens.”

This story was published on Feb. 2, 2021 as a special on-line-only extra to Minnesota Law magazine.