William and Mary Law School

Law Students Learn that Smart Manners are Smart Business

  • Etiquette Dinner
    Etiquette Dinner
    Before the dinner comes the reception, and learning how to juggle glass, hors d'oeuvres, and handshakes.
    David F. Morrill
  • Etiquette Dinner
    Etiquette Dinner
    Students had many great questions at the etiquette dinner, and they received great answers.
    David F. Morrill
  • Etiquette Dinner
    Etiquette Dinner
    W&M Law students learned the best way to carry themselves during a five-course meal. And, of course, an excellent meal was an added bonus.
    David F. Morrill

Busy law students may grab quick bites to eat between classes and dress casually when studying or working on projects. But there will come a time when they need to step up their gastronomic and sartorial games for networking, interviewing and practicing law.

And thanks to William & Mary Law School and their friends at McGuireWoods in Richmond, they got that step up.

On Tuesday, February 19 and Thursday February 21, McGuireWoods sponsored two Etiquette dinners at the Williamsburg Inn for law students who wanted to learn more about the protocol behind elegant dining.

McGuireWoods has sponsored similar events for several years now. And they always make sure that attorneys and staff are on hand to get to know the students.

“We hope students will feel more comfortable in situations when they are dining or interviewing,” said Ann McGhee, Firmwide Manager of Attorney Recruiting. “They get tips on what to wear, how to handle themselves in cocktail receptions, and how to deal with the many parts of a five-course meal.”

Students even learn how to give a firm handshake—and small things like how to place their name tags on the right lapel, not the left.

“I always used to wear my name tag on my left lapel,” said 1L Phil Harvey. “And it was actually pretty earth shattering to realize how much easier it is to read during the handshake if it’s on your right side.”

Harvey may only be in his first year of law school, but he thinks it’s important for students to present themselves well from the start.

“If you don’t, it doesn’t just speak poorly of your image, but also your level of preparation and your respect for others,” he said. “I’m always more confident when I’m well prepared.”

Certainly well prepared were the staff from the Williamsburg Inn who ran the events. They’ve done similar dinners for everyone from business students to church groups. Throughout the event, they marched back and forth with military precision, reminding the students of the correct way to do things and answering their many good questions.

“You’re not at a reception to eat or to drink, you’re there to network,” they told the students before the dinner.

And during the dinner, they shared information--some of it surprising--beyond the usual proper use of silverware and what to do with a napkin when you need to leave the table for a few minutes.

"If you drop a roll, kick it under the table,” they said. “That sounds bizarre. But you don’t want the wait staff to step  on the roll, so quietly get it out of way.”

Each year, more and more students sign up, and they’re grateful for the experience.

“I really enjoyed it,” Harvey said. “The food was excellent, and I think it was fabulous of McGuireWoods not only to sponsor the event but also to send two attorneys and help us get the hang of how to behave in a fancy setting.”

There’s no question that students learn life-long skills at these events. And some attend more than once.

“No matter how many times you do it, you always pick up on something new,”  McGhee said.