Four in the Class of 2004This year's graduation awards honored a number of outstanding law students—including Ted Kiem, Allison Orr, Kevin Ritz, and James Whitehead.
Hometown: St. Louis, MO
Education: Columbia University, B.A. in Russian Studies
Why you wanted to be a lawyer? I worked for several years in the former Soviet Union. It became obvious that whether the goal is to promote economic development or to foster civil society, the law is ultimately the most important and effective instrument for reform. All the money in the world won't change anything without fair and well-functioning legal systems. Plus, there is the romantic appeal of this being the "last of the learned professions." I always fall for that kind of talk.
Favorite Law School experience? Eating lunch with our "crew" on a daily basis. The laughter was a great remedy for stress.
Scholarly interests/specialties? International law, both international business transactions and public international law. I also love constitutional history although I think it's more of a hobby than a specialty.
Favorite class? Professor Klarman's Constitutional History II—pure enjoyment.
Favorite professor? There are so many fantastic faculty members, but I have to say Professor Bradley.
Best learning experience? Planning the J.B. Moore Symposium for the last two years and having contact with international law scholars from all over the United States.
Activities at the Law School? J.B. Moore Society of International Law, International Rescue Committee volunteer.
Future plans? I'll be an associate at Sidley Austin Brown & Wood in New York.
Best summer experience? Working for Professor O'Connell. I was able to look in great depth at an area of the law (tort reform) outside my primary area of interest. I really enjoyed discussing legal history and public policy with Professor O'Connell and personally gained a tremendous amount from his expertise and friendship.
What you wish you could do over? I never had a class with Professor Caleb Nelson or Dean Jeffries.
Favorite spot on grounds? The reading room in the Law Library.
Favorite spot off-grounds? I guess I'm supposed to say Monticello or some scenic mountain-view but the truth is, Riverside Lunch. I like the NASCAR atmosphere and thumb-prints in the hamburger buns.
I knew I wanted to go to Virginia when: Our son was born. And it was a great choice—I can't imagine a better place to be a student and parent.
Advice for entering students? Don't
take classes you "should" take—take what is
most interesting. The rest will fall into place. Most importantly,
speak with your professors—once you leave school, you
won't have ready access to this amazing human resource.
They know a few things.
Hometown: Charlottesville, VA (seriously, I'm a townie)
Education: College of William & Mary
Why you wanted to be a lawyer? My Dad always talked about it being a good career choice for me (turns out medicine [his profession] was not really an option after I fainted in the 7th grade when we dissected the frog). However, I didn't really know I wanted to go to law school until my exposure to the law in my first job after college. I worked as a paralegal for the small consumer litigation office of the DOJ. That office was full of young, enthusiastic lawyers who entertained a lot of my questions and encouraged my intellectual curiosity about the law.
Favorite Law School experience? I've had many, but if I had to choose, I'd say my favorite law school experience was working as a research assistant for Anne Coughlin after my first year. Being in Charlottesville that summer enabled me to get to know a lot of faculty members (and other students who I didn't know as well before) in a very casual environment. I loved going to the faculty workshops every week, and I loved brain-storming with Professor Coughlin in her office. It was a very relaxed and intellectually stimulating summer. I loved it.
Scholarly interests/specialties? I'm more interested in public law than private law (which I know doesn't really narrow it down too much). My note was on a civil procedure issue. I really like federal courts, admin law, con law, criminal law, and the First Amendment. I also enjoyed Professor Klarman's constitutional history courses, and believe it or not... I actually liked tax.
Favorite class? Tough one. This is like asking me what my favorite M & M color is (they're all good, but I'd have to go with green). I think my favorite law school class was also the most challenging one...Federal Courts with Caleb Nelson. I like law school classes that tap the logic side of my brain, and Fed Courts with Professor Nelson felt like one intense puzzle after another. It was an amazing class.
Favorite professor? Sorry, I just can't pick one. This faculty is full of all-stars, and I was lucky enough to have many of them. I'm sure if I listed them all, I'd forget someone. So, I plead the 5th on this one. :)
Best learning experience? Writing my note. I learned a lot in every class, but for some reason my first attempt at legal scholarship stands out as one of the strongest learning experiences for me. I had a great advisor, Caleb Nelson, who helped me at every step of the way. It was a very challenging process, but I think I learned a lot from it.
Activities at the Law School? I did a lot of pro bono work during my first year (specifically with RCAP [Rape Crisis Advocacy Project] and the Legal Intake Program). In my last two years, my time was spread rather thin between two large opposing forces—the Libel Show and the Law Review (you can guess which one was more fun).
Future plans? I am clerking this year for Judge Wilkinson right here in Charlottesville (this makes my Mom very happy since I will be in my hometown for yet another year). After that, I am not sure what I'll do next. My long-term goal, I think, is to become a law professor (it seems like the closest thing I can find to being a law student, which has to be the best job in the country).
Best summer experience? As I mentioned, I loved working for Anne Coughlin after my first year. I also really enjoyed working for Covington and Burling last summer in D.C.—the work was interesting, the people were great, and the lunches were AWESOME!
What you wish you could do over? I wish I could go back to 1L Alli and tell her not to stress out so much and never ever to listen to what other 1Ls are talking about. I think everyone is so scared and nervous when they encounter their first law school exams, and the tendency to freak-out is contagious. I wish I could go back and wear ear muffs for that time period.
Favorite spot on grounds? Scott Commons from 11-2. Besides the fact that I love Curtis's red beans and rice, I could also plop myself on one of those couches and waste away many hours just catching up with whichever of my friends ambled by.
Favorite spot off-grounds? My parents' farm (where I grew up). Though I rarely brought my laundry home, it was a great place to escape, and to bring friends back to. Also, my Mom is a terrific cook—no restaurant in town can top her.
I knew I wanted to go to Virginia when: Honestly, I dreamed about going to Virginia the moment I knew I wanted to go to law school. Not every girl has a top-10 law school in her backyard. I can't imagine going anywhere else. U.Va. Law has become such a special place to me—I have made amazing friends and amazing mentors. Perhaps I'm biased, but I can't imagine any law school in the country being half as rewarding.
Advice for entering students? Don't
be afraid to ask questions if you don't understand something. The
faculty at U.Va. is top notch. I
have never been taught and I never will be taught by minds of this
caliber again. Take advantage
of it. Make a list of all the professors you have heard are
fantastic (and you'll need a big piece of paper to handle that
task). Then take their classes. Even
if it means getting up for a 9 am class. You
only get to do this once, and it goes by so fast. Savor every
Hometown: Memphis, TN
Education: B.A. with High Distinction, University of Virginia, 1997; M.S. in Foreign Service, Georgetown University, 1999
Why you wanted to be a lawyer? I think a legal education enables one to understand more clearly why our government works the way it does, as well as what it means to be a citizen of our country.
Favorite Law School experience? Hosting Gary Hart, Chuck Robb, and Judge Wilkinson for Student Legal Forum lectures.
Scholarly interests/specialties? Hmmm....foreign policy? Baseball? Bruce Springsteen?
Favorite class? Federal Courts with Caleb Nelson.
Favorite professor? Prof. BeVier and Prof. Klarman.
Best learning experience? Studying for first-year exams with John Bottini and John Nutter.
Activities at the Law School? President, Student Legal Forum; Chair, Graduation Committee; Book Reviews Editor, Virginia Law Review; President, Raven Society; Golden Ass Society.
Future plans? Clerking for Judge Julia Gibbons, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, Memphis, TN.
Best summer experience? Summer before law school—driving a Mustang convertible to ballparks out west.
What you wish you could do over? Walking down the Lawn at Graduation.
Favorite spot on grounds? Old Cabell Hall auditorium.
Favorite spot off-grounds? Continental Divide [restaurant].
I knew I wanted to go to Virginia when: I met some of the Law School faculty while visiting, and they seemed genuinely excited about teaching, being in Charlottesville, and getting to know students on a personal level.
Advice for entering students? Remember
that the Law School is part of the best University in the country,
and take advantage of what the University has to offer—lectures, athletics,
organizations, music, afternoons on the Lawn, etc. Spend
time in Crozet, Scottsville, and other areas outside of town. Have
a margarita at Continental Divide. Don't forget what you
did with your free time before law school. Read the newspaper
to keep it all in perspective.
Hometown: Charles City, Virginia
Education: B.A., Sociology, University of Virginia
Why you wanted to be a lawyer? I remember taking a criminology class as an undergraduate sociology major. It made me realize the negative perceptions and prejudices that many people have for those that are charged with a criminal offense. So I went to law school in hoping to one day defend those stamped with the unpopular label of "criminal defendant." Several years later, I learned that dreams do come true.
Favorite Law School experience? Dandelion Parade and getting to spend time with my brother Lamarkco
Scholarly interests/specialties? Criminal Law, Race and the Law
Favorite class? Criminal Investigation
Favorite professor? They're not professors, but my favorite people had to be Dean Harmon, the entire Public Service Center, Career Services staff, and evening cleaning crew.
Best learning experience? Criminal Defense Clinic. It was nice to put the textbooks aside and have a living, breathing client.
Activities at the Law School? Black Law Students Association, Intern for the U.Va. Athletics Department Compliance Division, Big Brother, National Lawyer's Guild, Legal Aid Intake
Future plans? Work as a public defender for the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia (PDS). Then, ride out into the sunset.
Best summer experience? Bittersweet moment. While clerking at PDS last summer, I wrote a motion that helped to acquit a client charged with murder. Sadly, after recently speaking with the attorney I worked with, I found out that he was later shot and killed.
What you wish you could do over? Nothing
Favorite spot on grounds? BLSA office
Favorite spot off-grounds? Zazu's and Panda Garden
I knew I wanted to go to Virginia when: I thought of the possibility of becoming a Double-Hoo.
Advice for entering students? 1.
Be true to yourself. 2. Success
is not defined by a letter grade.