Awards Ceremony Celebrates the Class of 2015's Achievements and Contributions

  • Awards Ceremony 2015
    Awards Ceremony 2015  2014-15 SBA President Blake Christopher starts the awards procession by carrying in the W&M mace.  Photo by David F. Morrill
  • Awards Ceremony 2015
    Awards Ceremony 2015  Eighteen students of the Class of 2015 were inducted into the Order of the Coif. Membership is the highest academic honor a law student can achieve.  Photo by David F. Morrill
  • Awards Ceremony 2015
    Awards Ceremony 2015  Dean Douglas addresses students, parents, and friends at the historic Kimball Theatre.  Photo by David F. Morrill
  • Awards Ceremony 2015
    Awards Ceremony 2015  Daniel C. Yates received the Spong Professionalism Award from Professor Laura Killinger.  Photo by David F. Morrill
  • Awards Ceremony 2015
    Awards Ceremony 2015  The George Wythe Society Award honors a faculty or staff member who performs outstanding service to the Law School community. David Noll J.D.'15 presented the award to Associate Dean Robert E. Kaplan.  Photo by David F. Morrill
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On Saturday, May 16, the Law School community gathered in Colonial Williamsburg's Kimball Theatre with soon-to-be-graduates, their families, and friends to celebrate the Class of 2015’s contributions and achievements. Dean Davison M. Douglas presented awards and special recognitions with help from faculty, administrators, and staff, and representatives of the Student Bar Association and Honor Council. Following the ceremony, class members and guests enjoyed a reception at the historic Sir Christopher Wren Building.

The following awards and special recognitions were celebrated during the ceremony:

Order of the Coif

Order of the Coif, Class of 2015
Membership in the Order of the Coif is the highest academic honor a law student can achieve. It is equivalent to membership in Phi Beta Kappa for undergraduates, and recognizes the scholastic achievements of law students selected from the upper 10 percent of their class. Members of the Class of 2015 inducted into the Order of the Coif were: Benjamin P. Abel, Jillian M. Askren, Elizabeth C. Barry, Charles L. Brewer, William A. Burke, Matthew P. Chiarello, Kristen A. Clark, Aaron J. Gold, Andrew D. Iammarino, Christopher Kaltsas, Nathan L. Kinard, Lorin C. Kolcun, Kelsey L. Ott, Christan R. Schreiber, Colleen Smith, Christine K. Wilson, Debra E. Wong, and Daniel W. Yager.

Order of the Coif, Honorary Member
Coif chapters may elect to honorary membership “those who as lawyers, judges and teachers have attained high distinction for their scholarly or professional accomplishments.” The William & Mary chapter of the Order of the Coif was established in 1981; those chosen as honorary members graduated prior to 1981, and have achieved distinction as law students and as professionals. William & Mary law faculty who are Coif members select the graduate who will receive this honor. This year, the faculty voted to induct James J. Thomas II ’76 as an honorary member of the Order of the Coif.

Thomas graduated from William & Mary with a B.A. in government in 1973 and remained to earn a J.D. from the Law School. He served as editor-in-chief of the William & Mary Law Review and was awarded the Weber Diploma by the faculty as outstanding student. Thomas is one of nine original lawyers who established the Atlanta-based firm Long & Aldridge, which eventually became known as Long, Aldridge & Norman. The firm has grown over the years and, as the result of a merger, is today known as Dentons, the largest law firm in the world. Initially focused on business and commercial litigation, Thomas’s practice shifted to sports and entertainment law. He has represented and managed the careers of five world boxing champions, including four-time heavyweight champion of the world Evander Holyfield and legendary middleweight Roy Jones, former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Steve Bartkowski, and pro golfer Jan Stephenson. Thomas also served as outside general counsel to the Professional Karate Association for more than 30 years, was the first Commissioner of the Women’s Senior Professional Golf Tour, and was president of the Georgia Force in the Arena football League. He is currently developing professional boxing leagues in Mexico, Nigeria, the Philippines, and Indonesia.

Academic Awards

ABA State and Local Government Law Award
This award, whose recipient is chosen by faculty who teach land use and local government law, recognizes outstanding performance in this area of study. The recipient was Melissa A. Klatzkow.

ABA-BNA Award for Excellence in Health Law
This award recognizes outstanding performance in the study of health law. Claire M. Wheeler received this award.

ABA-BNA Award for Excellence in the Study of Intellectual Property Law
Faculty who teach intellectual property choose the award recipient for his or her outstanding performance in this area of study. Shane M. Rumbaugh was the recipient of this award.

ALI-ABA Scholarship and Leadership Award
This award recognizes students who best exemplify a combination of scholarship and leadership. The award was presented to Nathan L. Kinard and Debra E. Wong.

Benjamin Rush Scholars
Named for the "Physician of the Revolution," the Benjamin Rush Scholars are a select group of students who have distinguished themselves by their research for the Health Law and Policy class. The scholars are responsible for choosing the annual recipient of the Benjamin Rush Medal for Advancement of American Health Law. This year's Class of 2015 Scholars were Brooke I. Hettig and James Andris.

Carter Kaplan & Co. International Financial Law Award
This award for outstanding student in international financial law went to Colleen Smith.

Family Law Book Award
The Family Law Section of the Virginia State Bar and the Virginia Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers co-sponsor this award to be presented to a graduating student at each Virginia law school who has demonstrated the most promise and potential for the practice of family law. The 2015 recipient from the Law School was Brooke I. Hettig.

Graduate Legal Excellence Award
This honor is awarded to a student or students who achieve the highest level of academic performance during study for the LL.M. degree. The recipients were Haibo Zhao, Rafael I. Contreras, Mengxin Cui, and Shutao Zhang.

Graduate Legal Excellence in Writing Award
The Graduate Legal Writing Award is given to the student or students who have demonstrated the highest level of legal writing skill during study for the LL.M. degree. The 2015 recipients were Haibo Zhao and Anji Shen.

The William Hamilton Prize
This prize is awarded to the student who has demonstrated outstanding performance in legal history. This year, Blake R. Christopher received the prize.

John E. Donaldson Award
Named in honor of John E. Donaldson, the Ball Professor Emeritus who taught for 35 years at William & Mary Law School, this award goes to the most outstanding tax student. The Donaldson Award for 2015 went to Christine K. Wilson.

Kruchko & Fries Award
The generosity of the Baltimore-based firm of Kruchko & Fries makes possible the annual recognition of a graduating student or students who have excelled in labor law and employment relations. The recipient is selected by faculty who specialize in this area of law. The 2015 recipient was Eva Zelson.

Legal Practice Scholar Award
The Legal Practice Program annually presents this award to recognize graduating students who have received Honors in at least three semesters of Legal Practice, the Law School's program in legal research, writing, professional responsibility, and lawyering skills. Those recognized this year were Benjamin P. Abel, Elizabeth C. Barry, Charles L. Brewer, Christopher G. Browne, William A. Burke, Sean C. Campbell, Kaitlin L. Cannavo, Phillip N. Harvey, Nathan L. Kinard, Lorin C. Kolcun, William A. Ladnier, Peter T. Landsman, Kelly L. Martin, Kevin M. Meigs, Lamya Moosa, Shahrzad Nikoo, Rebecca A. Parry, Kevin J. Ryan, Colleen Smith, Anjali Vohra, Katharine J. Westfall, and Debra E. Wong.

National Association of Women Lawyers Award
This award recognizes a student or students who have contributed to the advancement of women in society by promoting issues and concerns of women in the legal profession, exhibiting motivation, tenacity, and enthusiasm, demonstrating academic achievement, and earning the respect of the Dean and faculty. The 2015 recipient was Jennifer D. Kahl.

Order of Barristers
The Order of Barristers, chartered in 1970, is a national honor society that recognizes “graduating law students who excelled as student advocates in written and oral advocacy activities and competitions--moot court, mock trial, and ADR.” Certificates were presented to the following inductees: Jeremy D. Forrest, Jennifer D. Kahl, Christopher Kaltsas, Maximilian D. Meese, Michael H. Roy, and Shane M. Rumbaugh.

Virginia Trial Lawyers Award
This award recognizes a graduating student, or students, for excellence in trial advocacy skills. The 2015 recipient was Nathan L. Kinard.

Journals and Competition Teams

Law Journals
Students who served on the Law School's five student-edited journals were lauded for their many hours of work that resulted, collectively, in the publication of about 6,000 pages of legal scholarship in the past year. In the 2014 law journal rankings, too, the school's journals ranked among the most highly cited publications in their fields:

The William & Mary Law Review is the 21st most-cited general interest law review in the country.

The William & Bill of Rights Journal is the second most-cited specialty law review in the field of civil rights, and the third most-cited specialty law review in the field of constitutional law.

The William & Mary Environmental Law and Policy Review is the most-cited specialty law review in the field of energy law, and the sixth most-cited specialty law review in the field of environmental law.

The William & Mary Journal of Women and the Law is the sixth most-cited specialty law review in the fields of gender studies, women, and sexuality.

Finally, our newest law review, the William & Mary Business Law Review, is the 13th most-cited student-edited law review in the field of corporate law and business associations.

The following special recognitions for journal staff also were given during the awards ceremony:

William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal - Thomas Jefferson Prize
The Thomas Jefferson Prize is awarded every year to the author of the best student note during the journal's end-of-year banquet. It is given for the contribution that best addresses a novel and timely issue in constitutional law in a clear and persuasive manner. Katharine Westfall received the Thomas Jefferson Prize.

William & Mary Business Law Review - Best Student Note
Thomas I. Zells received this award in recognition of having written the most outstanding student note published in the Business Law Review.

William & Mary Business Law Review - Outstanding Member
Brian J. Focarino was recognized for his outstanding dedication to and support of the journal.

William & Mary Environmental Law and Policy Review Award for Excellence in Scholarship
This award recognizes the most outstanding student note published in the Environmental Law and Policy Review. The recipient was Nicholas J. Guidi.

William & Mary Journal of Women and the Law – Outstanding Member
The award was conferred upon Chelsea V. King.

William & Mary Journal of Women and the Law - Best Student Note
The award was conferred upon Rebecca Pensak.

William and Mary Law Review – Best Student Note
Aaron J. Gold was the 2015 winner.

Competition Team Awards
Members of the Class of 2015 who participated in Moot Court enjoyed considerable success.

Rebecca Clancy and Christopher Kaltsas: Quarterfinalist and Best Brief, Jerome Prince Memorial Evidence Moot Court Competition , Brooklyn Law School.

Jeremy Forrest, August Johannsen, and Karel Mazanec: Quarterfinalists, Hassell Moot Court Tournament, Regent.

Jeremy Forrest and Jane Ostdiek: Semifinalists, St. John’s Bankruptcy Moot Court.

Philip N. Harvey: Semifinalist, Kaufmann Securities Moot Court Competition.

Philip N. Harvey: Quarterfinalist, Federal Bar Association Moot Court.

Jennifer D. Kahl and Alex Phillips: Quarterfinalists, NYC Bar Association Moot Court.

Jennifer D. Kahl and Scott Rattigan. Winner, John R. Brown Admiralty Law.

Karel Mazanec and Alex Phillips: Quarterfinalists, Elon Moot Court.

Alex Phillips and Christian Schreiber: Quarterfinalist, ABA Moot Court.

Henry D. Alderfer and Chelsea V. King: Quarterfinalists, National Veterans Law Moot Court Competition.

The National Trial Team also enjoyed another successful program.

Blake R. Christopher: Best Advocate, White Collar.

Blake R. Christopher and Shahrzad Nikoo: Third Place Team, FSU.

Nathan L. Kinnard: Second Place, Stetson Pre Trial.

Nathan L. Kinnard and William A. Ladnier: Best Trial Brief, South Texas.

William A. Ladnier: Second Place Team, TC Regionals.

Maximilian D. Meese: Best Advocate, ABA Regional Trial.

Maximilian D. Meese: First Place Team and First Best Advocate, Gourley.

Maximilian D. Meese and Shane M. Rumbaugh: First Place Team, ABA Labor and Employment Regionals.

Shahrzad Nikoo and Michael H. Roy: First Place Team, BLSA Regionals.

Shahrzad Nikoo and Michael H. Roy, Third Place Team, BLSA Nationals.

Michael H. Roy: Second Place Team, Puerto Rico.

Michael H. Roy: Best Advocate, BLSA Regionals.

Our Alternative Dispute Resolution Team also had a strong year.

Kristen A. Clark: Finalist, National Government Contracts Negotiation Tournament.

Eva Zelson: Semifinalist, ABA National Mediation Tournament.

Eva Zelson: Winner, ABA Regional Mediation Tournament.

Professionalism Awards

Gambrell Professionalism Award
This award honors students from each of the Legal Skills law offices who best represent professionalism, public service, integrity, and dedication to the improvement of lawyering skills. Gambrell Award recipients were Benjamin P. Abel, William A. Burke, Matthew P. Chiarello, Meaghan W. Griffith, Kelly L. Martin, Karel Mazanec, Shahrzad Nikoo, Kevin J. Ryan, Jillian W. Schultz, Colleen Smith, Katharine J. Westfall, Claire M. Wheeler, Debra E. Wong, Daniel C. Yates, and Thomas I. Zells.

Spong Professionalism Award
This award is given by the Society of the Alumni of the College of William & Mary to a third-year law student who best exemplifies professionalism and ethics in the Legal Skills Program. It honors the memory of William B. Spong, Jr. (1920-97) who served as Dean of the Law School from 1976 to 1985. Before entering academia, Dean Spong represented Virginia in the U.S. Senate from 1966 to 1973, and had served previously as a member of the Virginia House of Delegates and the Virginia State Senate. This year's award was given to Daniel C. Yates.

Service Awards

BLSA Recognition
The Dean singled out one student organization with a particularly robust commitment to service: the Black Law Students Association (BLSA). This student group engages in an extraordinary range of service activities, in particular an annual Thanksgiving Basket collection that last November collected about 4,000 items of food and several thousand dollars that provided many needy families in the community with a marvelous Thanksgiving dinner. In addition, William & Mary’s BLSA chapter was named the Mid-Atlantic BLSA Chapter of the Year.

Clinical Legal Education Association Outstanding Student Award
This award is given to a student who shows excellence in the fieldwork component of the clinical course based on the quality of the student's performance in representing individual clients or in undertaking group advocacy or policy reform projects; excellence in the seminar component of the clinical course based on the quality of the student's reflection in exploring the legal, ethical, strategic, and other pertinent issues raised in the particular clinic; and the extent of the student's contribution to the clinical community. The Class of 2015 recipient was William A. Burke.

Dean's Certificates
Each year the Dean recognizes select members of the graduating class whose efforts on behalf of the Law School community have been especially outstanding. Awarded Dean's Certificates in recognition of their outstanding service were Henry D. Alderfer, Violet Boggs-Foster, Blake R. Christopher, Kristen A. Clark, Arrion N. Dennis, Brian J. Focarino, Dara N. Gibson, Nicholas J. Guidi, Belema Idoniboye, Christopher Kaltsas, Jason B. Kane, Chelsea B. Kauffman, Nathan L. Kinard, Jessica Olsen-Zhang, Forrest S. Reilly, Michael H. Roy, Jillian W. Schultz, Brian J. Shea, Violet M. Steven, Drucilla H. Tigner, Susan Vermillion, Caitlin E. Whalan, Claire M. Wheeler, and Daniel C. Yates.

Ewell Award
In 1987, the William & Mary Student Assembly established an award to honor well-rounded students--both graduate and undergraduate--who best exemplified a liberal arts education through their activities as well as studies. The award was named in honor of Benjamin Stoddert Ewell, the College's 16th president, who by ringing the Wren Building bell during the Civil War kept the spirit of the College alive until the students returned to campus. This year, Amber Clark, Caleb Stone, and Claire M. Wheeler received this honor.

George Wythe Society Award
Created in 2013, the George Wythe Society Award honors a faculty or staff member who performs outstanding service to the Law School community and demonstrates fidelity to those qualities of character, leadership, and selfless service that distinguished the life of George Wythe. President of the Wythe Society David Noll presented the George Wythe Society Award to Robert E. Kaplan, Associate Dean and Professor of the Practice. Noll thanked Kaplan for his work in hosting the Bone Marrow Drive at the Law School and the Red Cross Blood Drive, as well as working with William & Mary so the Law School can have a full semester externship in D.C. to allow students to work with government agencies,

(SBA) Honor Council Recognition
The student body's honor system, which protects the environment of honesty and integrity, is one of the oldest and most important traditions of William & Mary and dates back to 1779. Recognized members of the Class of 2015 for their service on Honor Council were Charles L. Brewer, Joshua P. Bohn, Chelsea B. Kauffman, Brian J. Shea, Geoffrey Tucker, Amber L. Turner, Jessica Vara, Peter H. Vogel, Anjali Vohra, and James Young.

Legal Practice Writing Fellows
Legal Practice Writing Fellows help incoming first-year students master such difficult tasks as legal writing, brief writing, negotiations, mediations, and client interviews. The Legal Practice Program expressed its indebtedness to the following Writing Fellows for 2015: Benjamin P. Abel, Xavier K. Jefferson, Melissa Jensen, Jennifer D. Kahl, Jason B. Kane, Chelsea V. King, William A. Ladnier, Peter H. Vogel, Anjali Vohra, Katharine J. Westfall, and Daniel C. Yates.

The Lewis B. Puller, Jr., Veterans Benefits Clinic Award for Excellence
Students who have represented our nation's military heroes by participating in the Puller Clinic and who have emulated the characteristics of selfless service and professionalism are recognized with the clinic's Award for Excellence. The award was presented to the following members of the Class of 2015: Henry D. Alderfer, James Andris, Matthew Branstetter, William A. Burke, Jeremy Cole, Richard Crockett, Kang He, Jennifer D. Kahl, Chelsea V. King, Samantha Lovin, Maximilian D. Meese, Kelsey L. Ott, Alexis Patillo, Alexander J. Reidell, Joshua M. Reynolds, Shane M. Rumbaugh, Kevin J. Ryan, Caleb Stone, and Amber L. Turner,

Special Education Advocacy Award
This award recognizes outstanding service to children with special needs and their families by a student who participated in the Special Education Advocacy Clinic. The award is made possible by the generosity of Claire Maddox '05 and Robert Ribble in honor of Evan and in memory of Brooks. The recipient was Elizabeth C. Barry.

Student Bar Association Recognition
The following members of the class were recognized for their significant contributions to the Law School through their work with the Student Bar Association. 2014-15 SBA President Blake R. Christopher and incoming SBA President Scott Krystiniak presented certificates of recognition to Sean Bevil, Rachel Busman, Blake R. Christopher, Amber Clark, Mike Hendricks, William A. Ladnier, Lamya Moosa, Vanessa Rogala, Colleen Smith, Caleb Stone, Aaron Wilensky, Peter West, and Caitlin E. Whalan.

Public Service Certificates
Members of each graduating class who contributed at least 35 hours of pro bono legal service or volunteer service to the local community are designated as William & Mary Community Servants. Dean Kaplan asked the audience to recognize the 44 Community Servants from the J.D. and LL.M. Classes of 2015. They included Henry D. Alderfer, Violet Boggs-Foster, Kristin Brandt, Rachel Bushman, Callie Carnemark, Matthew Chiarello, Atif Choudhury, Amber Clark, Kristen A. Clark, Christina Dwyer, Brian J. Focarino, Dara N. Gibson, Geoffrey Glass, Kang He, Brooke I. Hettig, Ruth Hocker, Belema Idoniboye, Melissa Jensen, August Johannsen, Jennifer D. Kahl, Jason B. Kane, Nathan L. Kinard, Chelsea V. King, Lorin Kolcun, Ayla Kremen, Phillip Lecky, Samantha Lovin, Kelly Martin, Rebecca Mishner, Lindsey Nicolai, Sean O'Neal, Rebecca Parry, Alexis Patillo, Anu Paulose, Vanessa Rogala, Kevin J. Ryan, Bradley Smith, Colleen Smith, Drucilla Tigner, Adam N. Walker, Caitlin E. Whalan, Claire M. Wheeler, and Eva Zelson.

 About William & Mary Law School

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.