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Law School welcomes new students

  • New students
    New students  The Law School community welcomed new students on Aug. 16, including members of the J.D. Class of 2013, students enrolled in the American Legal System Program, and transfer and visiting students.  Photo by Colonial Photography
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William & Mary Law School welcomed new students on Aug. 16. The J.D. Class of 2013, 217 strong, was chosen from a pool of 6,292 applicants, the largest in the school's history, and an increase of more than 26 percent from the record 4,984 applicants for the J.D. Class of 2012. Class members hail from 35 states, the District of Columbia, China, and Russia. The class's median undergraduate G.P.A. of 3.70 is the highest in the Law School's history; the class's median LSAT of 165 (92nd percentile) has been equaled by only two prior entering classes.

In addition to the J.D. Class of 2013, 19 students have enrolled at the Law School for one year of study in the American Legal System Program as LL.M. degree candidates. These students are from Canada, China, the Czech Republic, Georgia, India, Japan, Mexico, Pakistan, Sweden, Thailand, and the United Kingdom. The Law School community also expects to welcome 10 transfer students to the 2L class, four exchange students, and four visiting students.

"The increase in applications for the 1L class is a tribute to the many strengths of William & Mary Law School," said Faye Shealy, associate dean for admission. "We received over 6,500 applications overall for our various applicant groups, (JD 1L, transfer, visiting, and LL.M.), a record number, and a high degree of recognition for our Law School. Our incoming students are an impressive group of aspiring citizen lawyers, and we are truly honored that such highly qualified individuals seek a legal education at William & Mary. They each have a resounding welcome to the Law School family and to the world of the law."

The new 1Ls received undergraduate degrees from 126 different colleges and universities (13 in Virginia, and 113 in other states and Canada). William & Mary and the University of Virginia were the leading undergraduate institutions represented by the new class. The leading out-of-state feeder schools with three or more entering students were Boston College, Brigham Young University, Davidson College, Duke University, George Washington University, Ithaca College, Pennsylvania State University, University of Maryland at College Park, University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, University of Texas at Austin and Wheaton College. Other entering students earned degrees from a variety of colleges and universities including Brown, Carleton, Chicago, Colgate, Columbia, Haverford, Johns Hopkins, MIT, the U.S. Naval Academy, and Wellesley.

First-year law student Alison Rabe, of Middleton, Idaho, is a 2010 graduate of the College of Idaho in Caldwell, where she majored in political economy and theater, and minored in leadership studies. During her undergraduate years she served as secretary, vice president and, ultimately, president of the student body; performed a 75-minute one-woman show; and garnered numerous awards at speech and debate competitions. She worked as an intern in the Canyon County (Idaho) Prosecutor's Office, the U.S. Senate, and the Idaho State Senate. She also traveled throughout Southeast Asia during a recent study abroad trip.

"While interning for the U.S. Senate, I fell in love with this area," Rabe said, "by exploring all around DC every weekend. When I was applying to law school, I thought William & Mary, with its small, liberal arts atmosphere, would be a good fit for me."

"As of now, I want to practice international human rights law because, when I was backpacking through Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Malaysia for my study abroad trip, I was struck by so many injustices there. However, I am still open-minded about what direction to take."

The predominant majors studied by the entering students were economics, English, history, political science, and international relations. Many other disciplines were also represented, among them accounting, biology, business management, communications, computer science, criminal justice, humanities, philosophy, and psychology.

In addition, the J.D. Class of 2013 has 14 members who earned master's degrees in a variety of fields, including, for example, business administration, criminology, industrial engineering, Judaic studies, and Spanish.

1L Spencer Bryson hails from Plainview, in western Texas, where he worked on farms and ranches after high school football practice to earn money for college. He is a 2010 graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, with a degree in business. During college, he worked as a certified personal trainer, a project consultant, and sales representative. During summer 2008, Bryson was a marketing intern for Texas Monthly Magazine.

"I chose William & Mary Law School because of its incredible history and its national reputation as a premier law school," he said. "I had always planned on attending law school, and I am keeping an open mind so that I can explore all the options available until I know more about each area of the law."

Of the class, 39 members graduated summa cum laude. Twenty-seven were inducted as members of Phi Beta Kappa.

Nicholas Frederick of Larchmont, NY, graduated from Cornell University in 2005 with a degree in applied economics and management. As an undergraduate, he participated in various extracurricular activities such as intramural sports.

Frederick served as a summer 2004 intern at UBS Private Wealth Management in New York, and worked after graduation as a corporate banking analyst at National Australia Bank. From 2006-2009 he worked as a structured finance associate and senior consultant for Ernst & Young LLP's Structured Finance Group. For the past five years, he has volunteered as a tutor for African-American high school students and helped unemployed adults with resume writing and interview skills. Most recently, he spent several months teaching English as a second language in South Korea and traveling in Asia.

"I chose William & Mary because its quality of education is great," Frederick said, "while remaining such a value for law school. Also, although it is a smaller school overall, it offers a breadth of classes, like business and entertainment law, which interest me a lot. From what I have read, William & Mary doesn't force its students to compete with each other. This is very important to me, since, at Cornell, this was certainly the case."

Some members of the 1L class have military service in common: four are members of the U.S. Army, one is retired from the U.S. Navy, and two are members of the U.S. Marine Corps.

Members of the 1L class bring considerable work experience to their legal studies. They have worked as paralegals, teachers, financial analysts, engineers, tax and financial advisors, campaign coordinators, development directors, and editors.

Justin Rhudy, a first-year student from Houston, Texas, graduated with high honors from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in government. Prior to law school he was a public policy analyst focusing primarily on the areas of housing and financial services with Falcon Capital Advisors in Washington, DC.

"My position at Falcon Capital Advisors," he said, "helped me build significantly on my background as a student in political science. Many of the critical issues and concepts I encountered there, coupled with the mentorship of Armando Falcon, a former regulator from the Clinton-Bush era, provided me direction, and inspired me to pursue a legal education as a means to correct some of the confounding issues we face in this country."

In addition, Rhudy has been working as a research assistant to Joel L. Swerdlow, an adjunct professor at the University of Texas, researching and revising drafts for a book on varying public notions of economic growth. Rhudy plans to have a career in public service, and hopes to use his law degree to prosecute those who perpetrate financial crimes.

"What drew me most to William & Mary Law," he said, "was the pride it takes in crafting ethical, civically conscious lawyers, and the strong reputation it has built as a result. Ultimately, I feel that the opportunity to become part of such a rich tradition is one which is both greatly empowering and inspiring."

1L Naomi Harralson from Purcellville, VA, was born and raised in California, but moved to Virginia in 2001 to attend Patrick Henry College. She graduated summa cum laude in 2005 and has worked at her alma mater most recently as associate director of institutional effectiveness & strategic initiatives.

After working for two college presidents, one a lawyer and the other an academic, Harralson appreciated that they shared a common vision but had different perspectives, terminologies, and modi operandi.

"In order to function as a 'translator' between the legal world and the world of higher education," Harralson said, "I would eventually need a J.D and a Ph.D. I hope to serve as in-house counsel or regulatory liaison for a liberal arts college or accrediting agency, ultimately for the purpose of having a potent voice in the higher education policy dialogue, and to help preserve academia's iconic pillars of institutional autonomy and peer review."

Harralson has also been accepted into William & Mary's Educational Policy, Planning and Leadership Program.

"For me, applying to law school was synonymous to applying to William & Mary Law School," she said. "My decision had much to do with whom I hoped to become - a citizen lawyer who understands the law within the context of the liberal arts, who is committed to the public good, and who synthesizes theory and practice. Where else could I find a law school with such simultaneous respect for tradition and innovation, one which encourages civic engagement without diluting quality?"

Two students who have come to William & Mary to study in the Law School's American Legal System Program, Hardik Mehta and Jigar Patel, have already coauthored an article, "Corporate Governance and Relationship with Stakeholders," published in the Company Law Journal in December 2009. Both men are from India, earned degrees with honors from Gujarat National Law University, and have fathers who work in the legal field.

Patel has written papers on international trade law and commodity markets among other topics, and presented them at national and international conferences. He has had internships at non-governmental organizations, the High Court at Gujarat, and the Supreme Court. He was the captain of his law school's football team.

"William & Mary was my first choice for a master's degree program," Patel said. "It is an academic organization designed to enhance student learning and prepare one for a career in the law. The curriculum, teaching, learning evaluation, infrastructure, management, and administration of William & Mary are the best in all respects."

As an undergraduate, Mehta was a member of the organizing committee for the First International Law Seminar, and for the university's annual seminar on "Indian Parliamentary and Gujarat Legislative Assembly Proceedings." He presented research papers on e-governance, India's foreign policy and environmental law, and was an intern for trial court and high court lawyers, and a Supreme Court judge. Mehta was captain of both his university's and law school's cricket teams.

"I am pursuing the LL.M. degree in the American Legal System at William & Mary to acquire a deep and advanced knowledge in the subject, and to help fulfill my aim of becoming an international lawyer," he said. "This is only possible at an educational institution of repute and high standards of value. William & Mary Law School fulfills all my requirements of a well-designed course - adequate facilities, broad curricula, flexible course structures, and practical training opportunities."