William & Mary Law School Launches New Leadership & Professional Development Course for 1L Students

In April 2022, William & Mary Law School announced the creation of a new one-credit course intended to develop and hone 1L students’ leadership and professional skills to ensure that they enter the profession equipped with a wide array of core competencies.

On Friday, September 9, that course hit the ground running.

Led by members of the Office of Career Services, the course was broken into five classes. Instructors included Associate Dean Michael Ende, Assistant Dean for Employer Relations Ramona Sein, and Assistant Deans George Podolin, Moriah Allen and Sara Marshall.

“Our students are graduating into an increasingly competitive job market,” said A. Benjamin Spencer, Dean of the Law School, in April. “Equipping them with these skills and tools is an important part of a comprehensive legal education — a thorough approach that prepares them to be effective and fulfilled in their work and standout leaders in their specific fields of expertise.”

The course incorporates best practices from across the legal profession and is designed to create opportunities in each session for self-reflection and engaged discussion. It also aligns with an American Bar Association revision to Standard 303, part of the ABA’s standards for law schools. The change requires accredited institutions to create substantial opportunities for the “development of a professional identity.” 

According to Ende, the course was “years in the making” and well worth the effort as a year-long, credit-bearing, interactive class designed to help all 1Ls develop core competencies for success in law school and as lawyers.

The first class, held on September 9, focused on emotional intelligence, communication, and relationships as foundational building blocks for professional success. Students were encouraged to break into smaller groups and reflect on their discussions.

Taking to the tasks in each session with enthusiasm, students came away looking forward to subsequent sessions throughout the school year.

“My biggest thanks go to my Career Services colleagues present and past for the incredible work they put in over the past 18 months, starting with the roughest of drafts of a course proposal right through putting the finishing touches on the syllabus and course materials,” Ende said.

Ende also thanked Law School leadership, administrators and members of the curriculum committee for their input and willingness to support Career Service’s vision for the course. He also praised 2Ls Prince Charity Harrell, Kyle Hyde, Treyvon Jordan, Robert Drake, Jr. and Alexis Bale for volunteering time to share their stories and facilitate discussion in the first class.

“Finally, but not insignificantly, to our amazing 1Ls for their active engagement and participation in this class,” Ende said. “We are eagerly looking forward to working with them throughout the coming year.”

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 first law school continues its historic mission of educating citizen lawyers who are prepared both to lead and to serve.