William and Mary Law School

Chancellor O'Connor Discusses Court and Life with First-Year Class

 OConnor

On Friday, February 8, the Class of 2010 packed standing room only into Room 120 for an exclusive chance to ask College Chancellor Sandra Day O'Connor questions about her life, the court, and her role on it.

O'Connor's appearance was part of the Law School's Citizen-Lawyer Symposium. The weekend-long symposium focused on the role of lawyers not just as practitioners, but as members of the community.

O'Connor took questions for forty-five minutes from an enthusiastic and inquisitive crowd. Topics ranged from her opinion on Jeffery Toobin's new book, The Nine, to what decisions she was especially proud of. She told stories of her life growing up on a ranch in Arizona, reflected on the collegiality among the justices, and offered advice on how to be a professional and practical attorney.

"One thing that you as law students have to learn," O'Connor said, "is to learn how to disagree agreeably. You are going to disagree as lawyers. It's your job to disagree and remain friends, and you can."

The students were delighted by her visit and the chance to hear O'Connor in such a relatively intimate setting.

"Justice O'Connor encouraged the Law School community to reflect on the important role in our society of the citizen lawyer," Benjamin Novak '10 said. "O'Connor's delicate balance of charisma, command, and poise was captivating."

O'Connor is the twenty-third chancellor of the College of William & Mary. Previous chancellors include Dr. Henry Kissinger, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and former Chief Justice Warren Burger.