William & Mary

Affording Opportunity: Alumna Establishes Law School Scholarship Endowment to Honor Classmate

Leila Jacobson Noel A Q&A with Leila Jacobson Noël J.D. '83
Partner, Cappello & Noël LLP
Santa Barbara, CA

On establishing the Gregory J. Mitchell ’83 Scholarship Endowment

I wanted to give back to the school, and in particular to help young people who otherwise would not be able to afford law school. Most importantly, I wanted to honor Greg. He was one of the nicest people I have ever known. He was kind, funny, smart, and he single-handedly made it possible for me to keep up with classes and final exams when I fell ill with pneumonia in my second year. Greg exemplified the best in human nature. We all could do well to emulate him.

Fondest memory from law school 

My fondest memory is of my classmates. They were extraordinary people to be around and everyone went out of their way to help each other. We really bonded as a group as we went through the program together.

Best thing about her job

I am extremely fortunate to work in a small firm that focuses on large and challenging cases. Being in a small firm, we all work together as a team to achieve great results for our clients. And because we work on complex and difficult cases, the work is always interesting and always challenging.

Personal quality or philosophy that has helped her be successful

“There’s no such thing as too much preparation.” From the first major case I worked on, I learned that to be successful you need to see both the big picture and the smallest details. I am a stickler for details, and I try to ensure that—in working up or trying a case—we have thought of all the angles and all the arguments, even if they may not play out until much later in the case. Extensive preparation gives me a confidence level that carries over into all aspects of my practice.

Proudest moments in her career

In terms of professional recognition, I would say the times I was named one of the top women lawyers in California. But from a personal perspective, the proudest moments have been when we have won hard- fought cases against major corporations, banks and businesses for people who otherwise might not have been able to tell their story or achieve some semblance of justice. Our clients have included minority borrowers who were discriminated against on the basis of race, victims of massive and intentional carcinogenic pollution, and parents who have lost children due to another’s extreme negligence.

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.