William & Mary Law School – Its History and Future

The College of William & Mary, the United States’ second-oldest college and the first to open a law school, continues to earn recognition as one of the crown jewels in American higher education through its centuries-long dedication to innovation and scholarship. Today, William & Mary Law School educates nearly 700 students from 40 states and seven countries at its campus in Williamsburg, Virginia, with more than 83 percent of those students enjoying financial aid packages to enable their futures as attorneys and jurists. The university’s current success stems from a tradition of scholarship that was established by the United States’ second president, Thomas Jefferson.

A graduate of the College of William & Mary himself, Jefferson studied law under George Wythe in the 1760s and worked with his mentor to develop a new paradigm of legal education in the American colonies. After becoming the governor of Virginia in 1779, Jefferson pushed reforms in the College’s curriculum as part of his role on the Board of Visitors, and initiated a law professorship that gave Wythe a permanent position at the College to teach law students. Wythe’s students included many of the young nation’s most prominent jurists, including Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall, and St. George Tucker, a noted legal scholar.

This tradition of innovation continues in the present through William & Mary Law School’s Center for Legal and Court Technology (CLCT). A program dedicated to utilizing technology to improve the legal process, CLCT has offered such classes as Experimental Trials using Technology, Technology Augmented Trial Advocacy, and Privacy in a Technological Age, as well as coursework focused on e-discovery, Internet law, and other topics that are of increasing importance to the legal profession. The “laboratory trials” held at CLCT, which have involved the participation of other law schools and international organizations, have led to many innovations in courtroom technology, such as the development of the Accessible Courts Initiative, a project launched in conjunction with the American Foundation for the Blind to increase accessibility for those with impaired vision. The CLCT also includes the McGlothlin Courtroom, which is equipped with the latest advances in courtroom technology and provides a space for law students to practice trying cases.

Tim Broas


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