As the political landscape gears up for yet another election cycle, William & Mary is set to host a groundbreaking event that brings together legislators from opposite sides of the aisle.

The inaugural “Citizen Lawyers in Action” event, a collaborative effort between William & Mary Law School’s Institute of Bill of Rights Law and the Virginia Law Foundation, promises a unique insight into bipartisan cooperation on pressing issues.

Scheduled for Nov. 28, 2023, at 11:30 a.m., this event will feature Representatives Joyce Beatty (D-OH) and Mike Carey (R-OH) engaged in a conversation moderated by William & Mary President Katherine A. Rowe. The venue will be William & Mary Law School.

The roots of this event trace back to the visionary George Wythe, William & Mary’s — and America’s — first law professor. Wythe believed in a legal education that not only imparted vocational skills but also nurtured young lawyers into the leaders the new republic desperately needed. Through participatory learning, he organized mock legislatures, providing students with real leadership experiences.

“Citizen Lawyers in Action” kicks off with a workshop led by the congress members at 11:30 a.m. in Room 120 of the Law School. Here, students will have the unique opportunity to glean practical advice on negotiation, problem-solving and other skills crucial for effective governance in a democracy.

Following the workshop, Beatty and Carey will hold a panel discussion during which they  share insights into their collaborative efforts and shed light on the intricacies of working together across party lines. The discussion aims to provide students with valuable takeaways applicable to real-world scenarios.

The interactive element of the event comes alive with optional simulations styled after George Wythe’s historic “mock legislatures.” These simulations, incorporating modern legislative challenges, encourage interest-based negotiation. The first simulation is slated for 12:50-1:50 p.m., followed by a second session from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Students can choose to participate in one or both, gaining firsthand experience in the dynamics of bipartisan problem-solving.

A cocktail party and reception from 5 to 6 p.m. in Penny Commons will cap off the day. The casual setting will provide an opportunity for students, faculty and attendees to engage in informal conversations, fostering a sense of community and collaboration.

The event is free and open to the entire William & Mary community. It serves as a testament to the university’s commitment to nurturing future leaders who understand the importance of bipartisanship and collaboration in the democratic process.

Editor’s note: Democracy is one of four cornerstone initiatives in W&M’s Vision 2026 strategic plan. Visit the Vision 2026 website to learn more.