Election Law Adjunct Professor Marc Elias and Election Attorney Liz Howard J.D. '09 Honored
William & Mary Law School's Election Law Society (ELS) hosted its Second Annual D.C. Friends of ELS Reception on March 21 at the offices of Wiley Rein. After a welcome from Michael Toner, a partner at Wiley and adjunct law professor at William & Mary, and Wiley senior associate Brandi Zehr J.D. '09, this year's festivities included the presentation of two ELS awards recognizing outstanding teaching by faculty and outstanding contributions by a graduate of the Law School to the field.
Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring presented Marc Elias of Perkins Coie with a teaching award recognizing his outstanding courses at the Law School in post-election litigation and advanced election law.
This past fall Elias taught his post-litigation course while litigating the Herring-Obenshain attorney general recount in Virginia - a race in which Herring held a razor-thin lead of 165 votes out of more than two million cast after the initial count. In his remarks, Herring praised Elias's work representing him in the recount and shared some student perspectives on his teaching prowess. The Attorney General quoted one student who wrote, "few practicing attorneys have taught an academic course with as much zeal as Professor Elias. He can engage a room full of students within the first minute of class and, against all odds, keep them highly engaged for four straight hours, at least. His knowledge and experience spring off him in a nearly tangible way - a way that makes you believe that pouring over towers of contested ballots for hours upon hours seems like the world's greatest calling. He is a leading expert in his field, but, even if he wasn't, his class would still remain a highlight among my law school courses."
Election lawyer Jason Torchinsky, a 2001 graduate of the Law School, then presented alumna Liz Howard J.D. '09 with the ELS Alumnus of the Year Award.
Howard, an attorney at Sandler, Reiff, Young & Lamb in D.C., co-founded ELS with Zehr in 2006. She now has an active practice advising federal, state and local political committees and candidates; state and national parties; section 527 organizations; nonprofit organizations and for-profit corporations on election law topics.
Howard served on the 2013 Herring recount team led by Elias. Less than three weeks after the Herring recount concluded, she was tapped to serve as lead counsel to Lynwood Lewis in his recount - a process that determined control of the Virginia Senate.
In her remarks, Howard highlighted the representation of William & Mary Law alumni in the Virginia recount bar. She noted that Torchinsky, who presented her with the award, was widely regarded as "one of the best Republican recount attorneys around," and had represented Lewis's opponent, Wayne Coleman.
In her welcoming remarks Zehr picked up on this theme as well, commenting that "basically, every important recount in Virginia this cycle has been run by William & Mary affiliated individuals." Among them, Zehr noted, was Anne Hampton-Andrews J.D. '11, who served as counsel to Senator Obenshain in the attorney general recount, and Myron McClees J.D. '10, a policy analyst at the Virginia State Board of Elections, who had various responsibilities in both recounts, including training the general registrars and coordinating the retabulation process conducted by the State Board.
Remarked Election Law Program co-director Rebecca Green, "William & Mary is honored to have some of the leading attorneys in the election law field teaching our students a full range of election law topics. And I could not be more proud of ELS alums like Brandi, Liz, Jason and so many others for the mark they are making in the field."