Gum J.D. '16 Receives 2016 Thurgood Marshall Award at Graduation

  • Commitment to Public Service
    Commitment to Public Service  The W&M Law School Association awards the Thurgood Marshall Award each year to a member of the graduating class who exhibits the ideals of, and commitment to, distinguished public service. Dean Douglas presented the award this year to Kaylee Gum J.D. '16.  Photo by Odd Moxie
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Kaylee Gum ’16 has taken home a number of awards while a student at William & Mary Law School. One more awaited her during this year’s  Law School’s Diploma Ceremony.

On Sunday, May 15, Dean Davison M. Douglas presented Gum with the Thurgood Marshall Award. The Law School Association bestows the honor each year to a member of the graduating class who exhibits the ideals of, and commitment to, distinguished public service as exemplified by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall (1908-93).

“Many of our graduating students have demonstrated a profound commitment to public service,” Douglas said. “There are probably half a dozen students who could win this award. But there was tremendous enthusiasm for one particular student, this year’s winner—Kaylee Gum.”

During her time as a law student at William & Mary, Gum has devoted almost 1,500 hours of pro bono service, much of which has been to military veterans and active duty personnel in Virginia. Fluent in Arabic, she has also provided legal services to the citizens of Iraq.

During the summer of 2014, Gum worked in Iraq for USAIV’s Iraq Access to Justice Project, with a goal of providing legal services to ordinary Iraqis. As ISIS gained strength through the summer of 2014, Gum had to leave Baghdad for security reasons, but chose to stay in country and relocated to Erbil in Northern Iraq so she could continue her work before returning to the United States and the Law School.

As a law student, Gum was heavily involved with the Lewis B. Puller, Jr. Veterans Benefits Clinic, representing injured veterans.

Douglas said that Professor Patricia Roberts, the director of that clinic, wrote that Gum “consistently impressed me with her skills, determination, and compassion with which she approached all of her clients.”

In the words of Professor Roberts, “Kaylee is one of the most  outstanding students that I have taught in my 15 years of teaching.”

Gum has already been recognized for her outstanding public service. She recently received the Virginia State Bar’s 2016 Oliver White Hill Law Student Pro Bono Award. Named for a distinguished civil rights litigator, the award recognizes the commitment of one law student at the state’s eight law schools for their outstanding pro bono work.

A lieutenant in the Air Force Reserve, Gum will serve as a JAG Officer for the U.S. Air Force after graduation.

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.