James Booth J.D. ’14 received the Thurgood Marshall Award at the Law School’s Diploma Ceremony on May 11. The William & Mary Law School Association bestows the honor each year to a member of the graduating class who exhibits the ideals of, and commitment to, distinguished public service as exemplified by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall (1908-93).
A graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, Booth has made a huge difference through his work with the Law School’s Lewis B. Puller, Jr., Veterans Benefits Clinic.
“The work ethic of the many students who participate in this legal clinic is extraordinary,” said Law School Dean Davison M. Douglas. “But one student stood out--James Booth.”
In one of his cases, Booth successfully represented a Vietnam veteran who had never trusted anyone enough to help with what turned out to be severe combat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Booth created a working and personal relationship that allowed the veteran to open up and tell his story for the first time.
Douglas praised the level of detail that Booth went through to establish a good working relationship with his client, detail that included conducting research about the combat history of the veteran’s unit in Vietnam. The veteran was overwhelmed that Booth not only knew what he had been through, but could talk about it intelligently.
“This really established trust with the client; it also showed James’s level of commitment and the extra legal services to this particular client,” Douglas said. “Over two semesters, James gathered evidence and arranged to have the veteran tested for PTSD at Virginia Commonwealth University. And today this veteran is receiving veterans’ benefits.”
Booth also served as a teaching assistant in the Lewis B. Puller, Jr. Veterans Benefits Clinic. He organized a trip to do client outreach for veterans at a homeless shelter in Washington, D.C., and made sure to include a stop at Arlington National Cemetery, so students in the clinic could appreciate the honor and gravity of serving their clients.
Booth plans on becoming a JAG officer for the United States Army after graduation.
Thomas Jefferson founded William & Mary Law School in 1779 to train leaders for the new nation. Now in its third century, America's oldest law school continues its historic mission of educating citizen lawyers who are prepared both to lead and to serve.