Alumnae Help Students Answer “What Comes Next” at Eighth Annual Leadership Conference

  • Leading and Learning
    Leading and Learning  Panelists at the Annual Leadership Conference share vital information and advice with students. A panel on "Building a Purposeful, Satisfying Life" provided tips and cautionary tales on how it is possible to manage important relationships and still perform as a professional.  Photo by David F. Morrill
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William & Mary Law School’s eighth Leadership Conference was held on Friday, September 27, and brought many distinguished alumnae back to campus to share advice and expertise with students. The  theme this year was “You’ve Already Got the Talent and Training: What Comes Next?”

For a photo overview of the day-long event, view the slideshow.

In panels and breakout sessions, students got answers to the challenges young lawyers face, among them: how to become an expert; how to generate business; how to deal with complex, ugly situations; and how to march ahead to new and better opportunities.

One breakout session even allowed students to practice their elevator pitch and learn how to work a room.

“What happens beyond the books is a critical consideration for anyone hoping to have a successful, purpose-driven legal career,” said panelist Sheyna Burt ’01, owner of the Law Offices of Sheyna Nicole Burt, PLC. “William & Mary and its Leadership Conference understand that, and our students are better prepared  for it.”

The keynote speaker during lunch was Meg Hopkins Taylor ’91, VP Chief Litigation & Employment Counsel, Delta Air Lines. Other participants included a stellar lineup of leaders across the legal spectrum, including:

  • Sheyna N. Burt ’01 – Owner, The Law Offices of Sheyna Nicole Burt, PLC
  • Claire W. Desmond ’15 – Associate, Venable LLP
  • Rosa J. Evergreen ’05 – Partner, Arnold & Porter
  • Felicia Faragasso ’90 – Lenior Legal Counsel and Chief Ethics and Privacy Officer, Exostar
  • Francine E. Friedman ’99 – Senior Policy Counsel, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP
  • Holly E. Hazard ’84 – Senior Vice President for Programs and Innovations, Humane Society of the United States
  • Barbara L. Johnson ’84 – Founder, BLJohnsonLaw PLLC
  • Maria “Masha” E. Kalinina ’11 – Officer, Protecting Ocean Life on the High Seas, Pew Charitable Trust
  • Tamar L. Lawrence ’11 – Associate, Dyer Immigration Law Group
  • Jennifer D. Mullen ’05 – Member, Roth Jackson Gibbons Condlin, PLC
  • Sharon E. Pandak ’78 – Partner, Greehan, Taves & Pandak, PLLC
  • Melissa A. Peters ’01 – Senior Manager of Lateral Recruiting, K&L Gates
  • Mary Beth Sherwin ’00 – Partner, Kaufman & Canoles
  • Lynne J. Strobel ’88 – Shareholder, Walsh, Colucci, Lubeley & Walsh, P.C.
  • Allison D. Tuck ’16 – Associate, Jones Day
  • Amanda L. Wait ’04 – Partner, Norton Rose Fulbright

“It was a congenial group of alumni and students who had many chances to learn and network," said Felicia Faragasso ’90. "I found the speakers engaged and thoughtful. I hope to return next year.”

This year’s conference honored Dean Faye F. Shealy, who is retiring after 37 years as the Law School’s Associate Dean of Admission. During that period, Dean Shealy has overseen the processing of more than 100,000 applications for admission to the Law School. Her team’s decisions have generated class after class of smart, caring, energetic, true citizen lawyers.

Kacie Couch '21 feels that the willingness of alumnae to come back and share their experiences with students like her is truly indicative of the citizen-lawyer ethic at William & Mary Law School.

"I was especially inspired by this year's group of phenomenal women leaders and was thrilled to have the opportunity to shadow Masha Kalinina, a William & Mary Law graduate and all-in-all inspirational human being who had excellent advice particular to my career field of environmental law," Couch said. "I'm so grateful to Masha, the citizen lawyer alumni, and to William & Mary for investing their time and energy in the successes of future citizen lawyer leaders through hosting and participating in this event."

The first leadership conference, “Women in Big Law,” was held in 2012 in conjunction with the 75th anniversary of the graduation of Virginia Mister ’37, the first woman to earn a degree from William & Mary Law School. Last year’s conference, “Superwoman and Real Women: Leading, Following, Caring, Evolving, and Sometimes Making Do,” helped kick off William & Mary’s year-long celebration of 100 years of coeducation at the university.

A large number of sponsors helped make this year’s event possible. They include: the American Constitution Society, Asian Pacific American Law Student Association, Black Law Students Association, Business Law Society, Christian Law Society, Equality Alliance, George Wythe Society, Health Law & Policy Society, J. Reuben Clark Law Society, LatinX Law Students Association, Lawyers Helping Lawyers, Military and Veterans Law Society, Muslim Law Students Association, Native American Law Society, Public Service Fund, Student Bar Association, William & Mary Business Law Review, William & Mary Environmental Law and Policy Review, William & Mary Journal of Race, Gender and Social Justice, William & Mary Law Review, and the Women’s Law Society.

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.