In December 1779, George Wythe became the first professor of law in America, a professorship created at the College of William & Mary at the urging of Thomas Jefferson. A signer of the Declaration of Independence, an early abolitionist and a “second father” to Jefferson, Wythe epitomized the lawyer as civic leader and passionate advocate for equality and justice.
A William & Mary Law School education is grounded in the philosophy of the citizen lawyer. Jefferson believed that aspiring lawyers should be taught in a university setting and that they should be trained not simply to be excellent legal craftsmen, but also good citizens and leaders of their communities, states, and nations.
Today, W&M Law students are taught by a faculty that embodies the citizen- lawyer ethic. Our professors are tireless advocates for human rights, supporters of the wrongfully accused and key players in post-conflict justice and nation building.
The George Wythe Society of Citizen Lawyers traces its roots back to a 1921 student organization known as The Wythe Law Club. (In honor of this heritage, the Society celebrates its founding date as December 18, 1921.) The Society serves as a rallying point for W&M law students prepared to dedicate serious time and energy to acts of constructive citizenship and also endeavors to promote awareness of William & Mary's unique place in the history of American legal education.
A W&M law degree is more than a meal ticket to a successful career. It's an invitation to use your extraordinary talents and training to improve the lives of those around you. We hope you'll join us.