by Brian Kelly '13
Law school doesn't have to be all about heavy casebooks and late nights spent studying. Tamar Jones '11 has proven that there can be a lot more to the experience.
Jones, a third-year law school student at William & Mary, is the 2010-11 President of the Student Bar Association. Her responsibilities include keeping track of everyone's activities in the organization and ensuring that students' interests are being well-represented as the main liaison with the administration. She said a big part of her role is getting opinions from everyone in the Law School community.
"It's really important to me to hear from all these moving parts and people so that we get a good picture of the best decisions to make," Jones said.
The SBA has many goals for this semester and for the future. For example, the organization plans to start holding office hours to allow people to voice any concerns or ideas they have.
Jones, who was born in Queens, New York, is a first-generation American -- her father is Jamaican, and her mother was born in England to Jamaican parents. Jones went to high school in St. Louis, Missouri, and attended Cornell University for her undergraduate degree. After graduating, she worked as a paralegal in New York City and got married. She moved to Richmond about six years ago with her husband, where she continued to work as a paralegal until she decided to attend law school.
Soon after arriving at William & Mary, Jones decided to run for office as a 1L class representative in the SBA. She said she had never run for a student government position before, but she decided to step outside the box and become involved. Jones saw the potential for everything the organization could do for students, and that encouraged her to stay involved. During her second year, Jones served as Treasurer, which gave her direct contact with the numerous student organizations funded by the SBA. Although hesitant at first, Jones said the treasury position led naturally to the presidency.
"It's been one of the best decision of my law school career," she said. "I just wanted to continue serving this great group of people.
"Far from being confined to just one extracurricular activity, Jones has been involved with a number of different activities and organizations. She is currently on Moot Court, and she serves as an Articles Editor for the Journal of Women and the Law. She also has been involved with the Student Hurricane Network, an organization that travels to New Orleans to help with rebuilding efforts after Hurricane Katrina. In addition to those activities and organizations, Jones has been a member in several other student groups.
"This year I've tried to cut back a little bit," she said, laughing.
Jones had plenty of advice for 1Ls beginning their law school career. First and foremost, students need to enjoy this year, she said. They should take the time to get to know their peers. These fellow students will be their colleagues for the rest of their lives.
Another thing that 1Ls need to keep in mind is that grades aren't everything, Jones said. Each student is a unique package, with unique circumstances and abilities, and grades are only a part of that package. "It's important to work hard and try to do well, but grades don't define you," she said. Jones said it's okay if students don't yet know what they want to do for the rest of their lives. Keeping an open mind about different areas of law and different career possibilities is important. "You just never know what's going to lead you to the place where you're meant to be in life."