William & Mary recognized Natalia Rezai, a graduating law student, with the Thatcher Prize for Excellence during commencement on May 12. The prize is named for former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who served as the university’s chancellor from 1993 to 2000. The university awards the honor each year to a graduate or professional student who exemplifies outstanding scholarship, character, leadership, and service.
Rezai will join the New York office of Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton after graduation as an associate.
In her letter of recommendation, Professor Laura Heymann praised Rezai as “a leader of true character” and described how she journeyed from her native Honduras to study at Stanford University, and later at William & Mary, to obtain an education that would enable her to help make a difference in the economic development and rule of law in Latin America.
After excelling academically at Stanford, where she earned her B.A. in economics and a secondary degree in international relations, Rezai worked as a consultant at the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington, D.C., before beginning her legal studies at William & Mary. In the summers during law school, she was an intern at the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs in Washington, D.C., and a summer associate at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz in New York City.
In Heymann’s estimation, Rezai is a law student “who embodies … completely the qualities of the Thatcher Prize.” She was a member of the William & Mary Law Review, President of the Human Security Law Center student chapter, President of the Latino Law Student Association, a Center for the Study of Law and Markets Fellow, and an active member of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Competition Team.
Rezai worked closely with Professor Erin Hendrickson and first-year legal writing students as a Legal Practice Program Fellow. Hendrickson said she was not only a “standout student” at the Law School but also possessed “a leadership style that demonstrates a maturity beyond her years. She has no trouble taking the lead where appropriate, but—perhaps even more importantly—she understands and appreciates the value of listening to and learning from everyone she encounters.”
Rezai studied post-conflict justice and the rule of law in a course taught by Professor Christie Warren, founding director of the Center for Comparative Legal Studies and Post-Conflict Peacebuilding. Warren described Rezai as “the student every professor dreams of: smart, engaged, insightful, prepared, and curious. She enhanced the learning experience of everyone around her—fellow students and faculty alike.”
Editor's note: The Thatcher Prize has been awarded to four law students at the university's commencement since 2000: Mary Sue Backus (2001), Cullen Drescher (2009), Jeffrey Bozman (2012), and Natalia Rezai (2018).
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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.