Layla Abi-Falah ’20 Named 2021-2022 Drapers’ Scholar

Layla Abi-Falah, a member of William & Mary Law School’s Class of 2020, has been named the 2021-2022 Drapers’ Scholar.

The Drapers’ Scholarship is awarded annually to a graduating William & Mary Law student who goes on to enroll at Queen Mary College of the University of London for a year of post-graduate study. The recipient may take any of the law courses offered there.

The scholarship includes full tuition and a living stipend.Abi-Falah

Abi-Falah is from Richmond, Va., and graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from William & Mary with a B.A. in International Studies and a concentration in Human Rights in the Middle East and Africa.

Among her activities as a law student, Abi-Falah served as Editor-in-Chief of the Journal for Race, Gender, and Social Justice, President of the Comparative Legal Society, Vice President for the Human Security Law Center, and secretary of the Muslim Law Students Association.

The summer after her 1L year, Abi-Falah served as a Decentralization Unit intern for the USAID Jordan CITIES Project in Amman, Jordan. There she worked alongside the Advisory Unit for Decentralization to improve efforts to integrate municipalities into the governance framework, helping to increase democratic accountability, and improve conditions in Jordanian communities. The summer after 2L, Abi-Falah spent three months in The Hague, Netherlands as an appeals intern within the Office of the Prosecutor at the UN International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals. There she supported senior counsel in preparation for oral hearings in the appeals case of Ratko Mladic for genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.      

During graduation in May 2020, Abi-Falah received the Thurgood Marshall Award, given each year by the Law School Association to graduates who exhibit the ideals of distinguished public service exemplified by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall (1908-1993). She also received a Dean’s Certificate for outstanding efforts on behalf of the Law School community, recognition for community service, and the Law School’s Award for Excellence in International Law.

“From day one Layla has devoted her law school career to serving human rights around the world,” wrote one nominator. “She has spent her summers working abroad on international criminal law issues and I have every confidence that she will be an energetic and successful advocate for universal human rights for the duration of her career.”

Abi-Falah is a human rights advocate, and credits the William & Mary faculty—from the undergraduate university to the Law School—with support, encouragement and opportunities.

“Professor Nancy Combs and Professor Christie Warren are not only two of my greatest role models as women in international law, but also my greatest supporters,” Abi-Falah said. “For seven years, William & Mary professors have instilled in me the core values necessary for becoming the human rights lawyer I want to be: compassion, awareness, and empathy.”

About the Drapers’ Scholarship
Each year, William & Mary Law School selects an alumnus or alumna who has graduated within the last two years to serve as our Drapers Scholar. The Drapers Scholarship recipient receives a fellowship to study law and earn an LL.M. degree at Queen Mary University of London. This opportunity is made possible by the generosity of the Drapers Company of London, which for many years has had a special relationship with William & Mary. At the Law School, the visible signs of this relationship are the stained glass figures of Blackstone and Wren, which the Drapers Company obtained for us from Oxford University. They grace the walls of our Hixon Center.

The alumnus(a) selected to serve as our Drapers Scholar will receive (1) a tuition waiver and (2) a grant to help with living expenses, set at an amount equal to the British maintenance award (approximately £10,000). The term of the appointment is one academic year. Classes traditionally begin early in October and end in March.

About William & Mary Law School
Legal education in a university setting began at William & Mary in 1779. Now in its third century, America's first law school continues its historic mission of educating citizen lawyers who are prepared both to lead and to serve.