Will Marks ’14

Will Marks discovered his talent for effective advocacy during grade school. “I thought my bedtime was too early, so I listed all of the reasons why I should get to stay up later on a note card and presented my argument to my parents,” he recalled.

Marks not only won his case, but his mother responded, “You really should be an attorney.” Marks majored in government at Georgetown University, graduating magna cum laude, with the aim of pursuing a J.D. and a career in law.

Before entering law school, Marks spent two years in Palestine, Arkansas, with Teach for America. His job teaching music to children grades K-12 required him to commute 20 miles between two rural schools in the middle of each school day. Marks plays trumpet and bass guitar, but he scrambled to learn to teach band and choir while enduring jokes from friends about playing the lead role in “The Music Man” in real life. “I had checked the box saying I could teach music, never dreaming that’s what I’d end up doing,” he said. “I restarted the school’s high school choir and started the school district’s first band program they’d ever had, which meant I had to learn to sing and play several new instruments. It was an incredible experience, and by the end of the first year, the band sounded great.”

He was considering several law schools, but his visit to Vanderbilt for an Admitted Students Program “sealed the deal,” Marks said. “The other incoming students were extremely intelligent and driven, but also social and easygoing. I knew this was where I wanted to be. One of the things I love about Vanderbilt is the collegiality; there is a real community of support and friendship here.”

Will Marks '14Marks enjoyed his first-year classes and worked as a research assistant for professors James Blumstein, a health policy expert, and Brian Fitzpatrick, who studies class action litigation, as a 2L. “I had Professor Fitzpatrick for Civil Procedure, and he takes his job of teaching students how to learn the law very seriously,” Marks said. “I don’t think there is another professor I’ve worked harder for.”

Marks was Editor-in-Chief of the Vanderbilt Law Review in 2013-14 and enjoyed working with his classmate Matt Downer, the Law Review‘s 2013-14 Executive Editor. “We were research assistants for Professor Fitzpatrick on the same assignment,” he said. “We knew how to work as a team.”

His internship in the chambers of Judge Richard Leon on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia during summer 2012 confirmed his interest in litigation. He was a law clerk for Judge Jeffrey Sutton of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in 2014-15, after which he joined Williams & Connolly in Washington, D.C., where he had worked as summer associate in 2013.

Will received the Founders Medal in recognition for graduating first in his class at Commencement and returned to Vanderbilt Oct. 7, 2016, to discuss Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Pauley, a case for which he worked on an amicus brief.


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