Kaylee R. Gum: 2016 Best and Brightest

Kaylee Gum

Kaylee R. Gum

William & Mary Law School

Hometown: Dodge City, Kansas

Undergraduate School: The University of Oklahoma

Undergraduate Major and Minor: Double Major in Middle Eastern Studies and Arabic

Minor in Aerospace Science

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During Law School:

      • Air Force JAG Educational Delay Program; 2nd Lieutenant in Air Force Reserves
      • William & Mary Moot Court Team; W&M Bushrod Tournament Winner, Moot Court Executive Board: Assistant Tournament Director
      • Lewis B. Puller Jr. Veterans Benefits Clinic
      • Graduate Research Fellow, International Law
      • William & Mary Journal of Women in the Law; Student Note Selected for Publication
      • Phi Delta Phi Academic Honor Society
      • Church Finance Officer

Where have you interned during law school? (List firms and locations)

      • USAID Iraq Access to Justice Program, Baghdad and Erbil, Iraq, Summer 2014
      • US Air Force JAG Corps Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Hampton, Virginia, Summer 2015

What practice area will you be specializing in after graduation? I am currently a 2nd Lieutenant in the Air Force’s JAG Educational Delay Program. Upon graduation, I will be serving on active duty as an Air Force Judge Advocate. As a Judge Advocate I will initially be working as a prosecutor within the military justice system in addition to providing legal services to commanders and active duty service members.

Why did you choose to attend law school? From an early age, I was interested in studying the law. However, I also wanted to serve my country in the armed forces. I began my undergraduate studies on an Air Force ROTC Scholarship and majored in Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies. I spent a semester abroad in Jordan and Oman studying diplomacy and policy studies and working with a non-governmental organization that focused on good governance and anti-corruption issues. Through those experiences, I learned about the importance of the rule of law. My desire to attend law school was solidified. I believed that with a legal education I would be better equipped to facilitate agreements and relationships that could improve relations and global security. With the desire to continue my education, I applied to the Air Force’s JAG Educational Delay Program and was accepted. After commissioning, I received a three-year delay to complete a law degree before fulfilling my active duty service commitment with the Air Force’s JAG Corps.

What was your favorite law school class? My favorite law school course was the Veterans Benefits Clinic. William & Mary offers two course levels in the clinic, and I had the opportunity to take both. The clinic provided valuable instruction on how to advocate on behalf of disabled veterans in a very complex agency system. The vast majority of veterans seeking benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs must do so on a pro se basis. The clinic provides a unique opportunity to develop students’ practical skills while simultaneously assisting veterans who have sacrificed so much in service to our country. During my time with the clinic, I assisted thirteen veterans seeking benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs. The experience has been valuable on both a professional and personal level, because I was able to learn from service men and women with incredible experiences and expertise in their respective fields.

Which attorney do you most admire? I most admire former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. She worked very hard to overcome strong gender norms to advance in her career and ultimately serve as a United States Supreme Court Associate Justice.

What have you enjoyed most about law school? I have most enjoyed the opportunities I have had for practical experience in law school; it is the best way to learn. I never dreamed it would be possible to work as a legal intern in Iraq. As an intern with USAID’s Iraq Access to Justice Program, I had the opportunity to work with attorneys, law schools, and legal clinics who were diligently working to improve vulnerable groups’ access to justice. Furthermore, my work with the Veterans Benefits Clinic has helped me improve my advocacy skills by working with real clients in need of legal assistance. Those experiences have been the most enjoyable and valuable components of law school.

What word best describes your professional brand? Impact. Through my education, I have focused on how I can improve my skills to better serve others. I was drawn to the military, because I wanted to be a part of something that is bigger than myself and have an impact through service.

If you were debt free, how would you spend your first paycheck after landing your first law job? I am very committed to education, so I would like to donate to students or faculty members who are trying to start a legal clinic at their law school. I believe that clinics are exceptionally valuable, because they allow students to learn and assist members of their community who lack the means to obtain legal assistance.

“I knew I wanted to go to law school when…I observed first-hand how legal systems, for better or for worse, shape politics, security, and liberty.”

“If I didn’t go to law school, I would be…serving my country in the United States Air Force as a Public Affairs officer.”

Which academic or personal achievement are you most proud of? I am proud of commissioning as an officer in the United States Air Force. It required four years of training and completion of my undergraduate degree. Taking an oath to the Constitution and my country was a very big moment in my life.

Fun fact about yourself: I grew up in an Air Force family and spent two tours overseas in Aviano, Italy and Ramstein, Germany.

Favorite book: The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

Favorite movie: Lincoln

What are your hobbies? I enjoy reading literary fiction. I also love exercising and playing team intramural sports to include: flag football, basketball, and volleyball. I also love Latin dance.

What made Kaylee such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2016?

Kaylee is the epitome of the citizen lawyer, a concept at the heart of a William & Mary education. She has excelled academically, including as a member of our Moot Court Team and our Journal of Women and the Law. But it is her dedication to service that makes her stand out. From her work with our nationally known Puller Veterans Benefits Clinic, to her service with the United States Air Force, to her time in Iraq with the USAID Iraq Access to Justice Program (where she was able to use her Arabic language skills), Kaylee has exemplified what it means to use one’s knowledge of the law to help those in need. She will do our law school, and our country, proud.”

Laura A. Heymann
Vice Dean and Professor of Law
William & Mary Law School