Working with Faculty
Professors at Virginia have a reputation for being available, for working with students on legal scholarship or having lunch to discuss the latest concept they taught in class.
In addition to interacting with professors in and outside the classroom, many students work for faculty during the school year or their first-year summer, collecting and fact-checking research or completing other legal work. (What Research Assistants Worked On)
Alex Krueger-WymanAlex Krueger-Wyman '13 worked as a research assistant to Professor Saikrishna Prakash, focusing primarily on editing
his forthcoming book on presidential powers.
"Not only did I learn more about a fascinating area of the law, but I had the opportunity to do so by working privately with one of the foremost luminaries in the field," Krueger-Wyman said. "More importantly, however, working as a research assistant to Professor Prakash was a terrific personal experience. Professor Prakash has become a wonderful mentor and friend to me, and he went above and beyond in helping me secure my federal clerkship. I have
no doubt we will remain in touch."
Krueger-Wyman also assisted Professor A. E. Dick Howard with a law review article and helped prepare him to moderate the Fourth Circuit Judicial Conference. "Not only did I learn a great deal about Supreme Court jurisprudence, I actually visited the Supreme Court twice with Professor Howard to hear oral argument and personally meet Justice [Samuel] Alito and Justice [Anthony] Kennedy."
Students can design their own research paper for credit, allowing them to work closely with a faculty mentor who supervises their work. (More)
Students form partnerships with professors for a variety of reasons, ranging from pro bono projects to co-authoring publications. Several students teamed up with Professor Anne Coughlin in 2011 to advise on a lawsuit aimed at changing the U.S. policy against women serving in combat roles, and opening the draft to women. The group was calling itself the Molly Pitcher Project, after the folk tale — based on real accounts — of a woman in the Revolutionary War who took her husband's place in firing a cannon on British forces.
On Jan. 24, 2013, then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta announced that he was lifting the longstanding direct ground combat exclusion rule for female service members and eliminating all unnecessary gender-based barriers to service.
"So much work had already been done on the issue, so many women had been in combat [and] died in combat. The lawsuit was maybe the straw that broke the camel's back," said third-year law student Helen O'Beirne, one of the members of the Molly Pitcher Project. (More)
Students in mock trial or moot court competitions often practice in advance with faculty acting as judges during the presentation and offering feedback afterwards. Virginia Law’s support for students’ professional development continues after law school. Faculty conduct practice job talks for graduates entering legal academia and advise alumni and students on practice in a variety of fields, both in the private sector and in government.