Women in the Law

A profile on professor Patricia Roberts of Williamsburg. Part of a special editorial series celebrating the achievements of Virginia’s women legal professionals.

Patricia Roberts, Williamsburg

Clinical Professor of Law and Director of the Lewis B. Puller Jr. Veterans Benefits Clinic at William & Mary Law School

From the age of 12, when she saw the movie And Justice For All, about a lawyer fighting injustices in the legal system, Roberts knew she wanted to be a lawyer.

“I felt very strongly that I wanted to provide assistance to those who didn’t have any help or hope available,” she says.

Today, Roberts is fulfilling the ambitions of her 12-year-old self. As a clinical professor of law, she seeks to inspire in her students a sense of responsibility and commitment to those who lack access to the legal services they need. “Because then,” says Roberts, “the ripple effect is far and wide as your students go out into practice.”

As the director of the law school’s clinical programs (and also a graduate) and particularly of the Lewis B. Puller Jr. Veterans Benefits Clinic, she is able to help students put that commitment into effect through actual service to vulnerable populations in the community—including veterans, the elderly, children with special needs and victims of domestic violence—who otherwise could not afford legal assistance. In the clinics, law students are able to engage in a range of “representation activities” for these individuals, under the supervision of the licensed attorneys on the school’s clinical faculty.

According to Roberts, legal support is one of the highest unmet needs for veterans, particularly for navigating the very complex disability claims system. In order to maximize the veterans they serve, the Puller Clinic created a program called Military Mondays, a partnership Roberts developed with Starbucks, where veterans can make 1-hour appointments for legal consultations at a Starbucks location every other Monday. First launched in Williamsburg, Military Mondays programs are in place or in development now in 21 different states.

“For me it was the perfect combination of two things I love, helping veterans and coffee,” says Roberts. “The greatest challenge is that there is always more need than we can serve.” 


Editors’ note: Women were first admitted to the state bar in 1920, thus making it possible for them to practice law in the Commonwealth. Nearly a century later, women in the law throughout Virginia have risen into positions of leadership and responsibility in public and private practice, nonprofits, education, the judicial system and legal organizations. The editors of Virginia Living sought out some of these outstanding women for their perspectives on their work and the law, and insights from their careers. For more information, including a complete list of Virginia’s top-rated women lawyers, look for our August 2017 issue.

Read the rest of the profiles in our Women in the Law special series:


Jessica Childress, Northern Virginia
Patricia Roberts, Williamsburg
Pia Trigiani, Alexandria
June 11, 2022

Star Gazing and Laser Nights

Virginia Living Museum
July 9, 2022

Star Gazing and Laser Nights

Virginia Living Museum
August 13, 2022

Star Gazing and Laser Nights

Virginia Living Museum