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Students Jessica Childress Serge Martyn Grace Huang Chris Brown Taylor Jose Masini

Meet the Graduates
Members of the Class of 2011 talk about their experiences at Virginia Law.

ChildressREBECCA GANTT
Hometown: Wingina, Va.

Who I was then: I graduated from Harvard University in 2003, with a bachelor’s in government, and then spent five years on active duty in the U.S. Navy as a surface warfare officer.

Amazing law school class: It's really difficult to choose just one out of all the amazing classes I've been lucky enough to take during my time here. Legislation with Professor [Caleb E.] Nelson was definitely a (challenging) highlight — both extremely useful and practical, and intellectually rewarding.  

Outside class: Having grown up nearby, it's been fantastic to be back in Charlottesville after nine years away. I've loved being close to family and friends again and have spent a lot of time with them, and the easygoing lifestyle here in Charlottesville makes it easy to relax outside of school. I adopted a dog my 2L year and have enjoyed running her around!

Noteworthy summer job: I worked for Defenders of Wildlife, an environmental nonprofit in Washington, D.C., my 1L summer, and split my 2L summer between the Department of Justice Civil Appellate and Hogan Lovells, both also in D.C.  

Resume lowdown: I was an articles editor of the Virginia Law Review and spent two years on the Public Interest Law Association Board, first organizing the annual auction and then as the treasurer.

Who I am now: I'll be clerking next year for Judge Michael Boudin of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston.

What you should know about Virginia Law: One big factor for my decision to come here was the impressive statistics on alumni giving rates compared to other top law schools — and after three years, I understand why alumni continue to be so supportive of the school. You'll experience absolutely first-rate teaching here with professors who are truly engaged with students. And the student body makes what has the potential to be a very painful and stressful experience a very enjoyable one instead. (More on Gantt)
 

HarrellWELLS HARRELL

Hometown: Little Rock, Ark. 

Who I was then: I left high school as a lanky debate and theatre geek who listened incessantly to the Dave Matthews Band. After graduating from Carleton College in 2006, I spent two years as a legal assistant in a D.C. law firm.

Amazing law school class: The Supreme Court Litigation Clinic. My legal assistant job included a limited role in one U.S. Supreme Court case, but the clinic made me an active participant on seven cases, including four on the merits. Working with such a talented group of lawyers and students was sometimes intimidating but constantly rewarding. (More from Harrell on the clinic)

Outside class: My friends on the Virginia Law Review made the many nights we spent discussing and editing articles bearable, enjoyable even. Our extramural moot court and trial advocacy teams sent me to several off-Grounds competitions, and I made it to the quarterfinals of our own Lile Moot Court Competition. I also got a taste of real-life appellate advocacy as an intern for the U.S. Attorney's Office here in Charlottesville, which gave me the opportunity to write two full briefs for the Fourth Circuit. I still found time to play some softball and sing, dance and wear funny hats for the Libel Show. On weekends, you could often find me hosting a Rock Band party, visiting a local winery or enjoying drafts at South Street or Brixx.

Noteworthy summer job: Interning for the Federal Programs Branch of the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Division during the second half of my post-2L summer was a fantastic experience. The Virginia alumni there did a particularly good job engaging me in the branch's work, which that summer included defending the Affordable Care Act and challenging Arizona's controversial immigration law.

Resume lowdown: Before my Justice Department internship began, I spent the first half of my 2L summer with the D.C. office of Boies, Schiller & Flexner. I split the summer after 1L year among two Arkansas law firms and a Texas firm. 

Who I am now: A little less lanky and maybe more geeky, I'm looking forward to clerking for Judge T.S. Ellis III of the Eastern District of Virginia starting this fall. I freely admit that my Pandora account still has some Dave Matthews channels.

What you should know about Virginia Law: Any top law school would help you build a strong career foundation. This school will also welcome you into a one-of-a-kind community. Even despite the intense pressures of legal education, Virginia's students, faculty, and alumni readily give good cheer and support. We remember fondly the three years that other schools' graduates would sooner forget. Coming here makes you part of a large network of people who want you to have the great experience that each of them remembers having. 
 

MehtaNEEPA MEHTA

Hometown: Charlotte, N.C.

Who I was then: I graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2006 with a bachelor’s in business administration and a second major in history. The UNC Morehead Scholarship (now Morehead-Cain) gave me the resources to explore interests in public international law and refugee issues through summer internships with the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in Switzerland and Global Routes in Ecuador. These experiences fueled my desire to attend law school. I also considered pursuing an M.B.A. and worked as a consultant for IBM after graduation. Ultimately, however, I believed that law school would provide me with the best graduate education and allow me to succeed in any profession, including but not limited to the law.

Amazing law school class: The Criminal Defense Clinic was both challenging and rewarding. Law exams are stressful, but nothing compares to the mix of excitement and fear that representing a real client in front of a judge in an actual courtroom entails. Even for misdemeanors, the stakes are high for the clients involved, including possible jail time. This class made me feel like a lawyer rather than an academic. Instead of reading about the law, I actually applied it and helped others in the community.

Outside class: During my 3L year, I served as the notes development editor for the Virginia Journal of International Law. I was proud to contribute to legal knowledge on international law issues, as well as provide students with the opportunity to publish their work. In my free time, I also enjoyed exploring the natural beauty of Charlottesville and the surrounding areas by hiking, biking and visiting local vineyards.  

Noteworthy summer job: After my 1L year, I worked for the Domestic Security Section (now the Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section) of the Criminal Division at the Department of Justice. After my 2L year, I worked as a summer associate at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom in Washington, D.C.

Resume lowdown:  I will return to Skadden’s litigation department in October 2011.

Who I am now:  I feel empowered to make a positive, tangible impact in my personal life, professionally, and in the community. The law is a powerful tool to produce change in society, and I now have the understanding necessary to navigate and influence the law in both the private and public sectors. 

What you should know about Virginia Law: Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, UVA Law is a gem. I had great classes, outstanding professors, and really nice and smart classmates. All this and still within a stone’s throw of hiking trails and sweeping views of the Shenandoah National Park, to keep things in perspective. I have no doubt that UVA was the best law school for me. Running on the Rivanna, late dinners at Mas, sitting on the steps of the Rotunda, and graduating on the Law Grounds… I will miss UVA! (More on Charlottesville)
 

TaylorALEXANDRA TAYLOR

Hometown:  Palo Alto, Calif.

Who I was then: After graduating from UC Berkeley, I got a master's degree in international security studies from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland and then worked for a year at the Royal Bank of Canada in Edinburgh, Scotland. I headed back to the U.S., and for the next two years I was a paralegal in New York City, where I worked with Brazilian companies raising capital on the New York Stock Exchange. I so enjoyed the work I did, and how it incorporated my language skills and international studies into my daily life, that the obvious next step became law school.

Amazing law school class: I took a seminar my third year on the most recent Supreme Court October term. Once a week, 12 students and two professors met to discuss one Supreme Court case for two hours. The class really brought together how substantive law, court procedures and process, and federalism shaped these opinions.  I not only learned a great deal from my professors and peers, but realized how differently I read cases after two years of law school.

Outside class: In March of my 2L year, I was selected as the editor-in-chief of the Virginia Law Review. Being on the managing board of any of the 10 journals at law school is a very rewarding experience. You learn not only about current legal scholarship in your journal's field, but also how to put on major events and manage a small business. Student-run journals run symposia and other school-wide events, organize the journal tryout process to select their membership, pick the articles they will publish, and work directly with authors to edit articles. No other academic discipline gives students such an important role in shaping its scholarship.

Noteworthy summer job: Between my first and second year of law school, I was a legal intern at Human Rights First in New York. I worked with local human rights organizations in Guatemala and Colombia to fight for the release of human rights workers and to advocate for broader legal changes to the criminal justice systems of each country. The most rewarding day was when a human rights worker in Colombia sent us a copy of the judicial decision releasing him from detention. The decision directly quoted the letter we sent pushing for his release, showing what a tangible impact human rights advocacy can have.

Resume lowdown: After taking a little time off to travel after the bar exam, I am headed to New York City to work in the corporate department of Davis Polk & Wardwell. I hope to continue to incorporate international relations and pro bono work into my new job, and have already gotten off to a great start — the summer before my third year of law school, Davis Polk let me split my time between their New York and Madrid offices.

Who I am now: I still have the same goals that led me to go to law school, but now I have a greatly expanded skill set, knowledge base and view of how the law operates.  Perhaps even more important, I have met an incredible group of friends who constantly remind me what wide-ranging things you can use a law degree to do and achieve.

What you should know about Virginia Law: The Law School has a reputation for collegiality that it absolutely lives up to. Classes are as academically rigorous and intellectually challenging as at any of Virginia's peer law schools, but the students work together and support each other. The culture here is something I don't think you will find anywhere else.
 

WalkerJAMAR WALKER

Hometown: Melfa, Va.

Who I was then:
I graduated from the University of Virginia in 2008, earning a bachelor’s degree in political philosophy, policy and law. As an undergraduate, I was a member of the Virginia Mock trial team that won the 2006 and 2007 national championship. The team’s two most heavily involved coaches, both members of the law school community, raved about their experiences here. When I made the decision to commit three more years of my life to UVA and to Charlottesville, I was a bit nervous about whether my experience in law school would be at all different from the previous four years.   

Amazing law school class:
Criminal Defense Clinic. Over the course of my last semester here, I have been able to represent clients in court. Each student in the clinic is assigned three cases per semester. My first case actually went to trial. Leaving law school with a trial already under my belt will benefit me immensely as I pursue a career in litigation. Additionally, having the experience of interacting with clients and understanding their needs is so rare as a student. My supervisors, Richard DeLoria and Fred Heblich, have been amazing at teaching us how to be better lawyers outside of the classroom. 

Outside class: Outside the classroom, I have continued to coach the extremely successful undergrad mock trial team along with UVA Law Professor Toby Heytens. I was also an articles editor for the Virginia Law and Business Review. Additionally, I have served as a Peer Advisor, vice president of the Black Law Students Association, a member of Lambda Law Alliance, a member of the North Grounds Softball League, and perhaps most importantly, a big sibling through ABLE.

Noteworthy summer job:
As a 1L, I worked for Patton Boggs in Washington, D.C. As a 2L, I worked for Covington & Burling, also in Washington, D.C. 

Resume lowdown:
Next year, I will be clerking for Judge Raymond A. Jackson in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in Norfolk. 

Who I am now:
Earlier I mentioned that I was apprehensive about spending seven consecutive years in Charlottesville. Essentially from day one of 1L year, I knew the Law School would be a completely different experience for me. I may have remained in the same city for undergrad and law school, but my time in law school has been shared with new people with different backgrounds and views about the way the world works. I have learned way more from them than they have learned from me. There is no question that if I had to make this decision all over again, I would decide to attend UVA Law. I am looking forward to starting a new chapter of my life in August. 

What you should know about Virginia Law:
I think there is a perception outside of this law school and its robust alumni base that the only people who will love their time here are those who love to drink beer and play softball. That’s simply not the case. The thing I love most about UVA Law is that no matter what type of person you are, no matter what you like to do outside of the classroom, you can find a core group of friends with whom you mesh. If you asked my classmates, even those who have not loved their time here as much as I have, I’m sure they would say the same thing.

WeissingerKRISTIN WEISSINGER

Hometown: I was born in Kansas City, Mo. I feel most at home in Asheville, N.C.

Who I was then:
 There are two places that shaped me more than anything else. Most recently was Warren Wilson College, a small college that operates on a triad of work, service and academics. At WWC, I was educated in social justice, history, environmentalism and generally being a good citizen by some of the most thoughtful and dedicated professors you'll find anywhere. Before that, I spent nine amazing summers at the American Youth Foundation's Camp Miniwanca.

Amazing law school class:
 Family Resource Clinic with Dan Nagin, Child Advocacy Clinic with Andy Block, and Family Law with Kerry Abrams.  

Outside class:
 I have really enjoyed being on the Public Interest Law Association Board the last two years. It's given me the opportunity to learn about the many UVA Law students who dedicate their summers, and often their careers, to public interest work. I'm grateful for this window into the wide range of interests and opportunities at UVA Law, and I'm amazed how committed and passionate our students are.

Noteworthy summer job:
 My 1L summer I worked at the Immigrant Advocacy Program at the Legal Aid Justice Center. My 2L summer I worked at Advocates for Children's Services, a statewide project of Legal Aid North Carolina.

Resume lowdown:
 I will be an Equal Justice Works Fellow at the Rocky Mountain Children's Law Center in Denver, Colo. My fellowship, generously sponsored by Greenberg Traurig for two years, will provide comprehensive representation to abused and neglected youth who have significant education needs. (More)

Who I am now:
 I could not be happier with my experience at UVA Law. Advocating for the education, safety and basic needs of vulnerable children is my dream job. It is also a challenging field. In pursing children's legal rights, I will surely encounter chronic underfunding, bureaucratic obstacles and plenty of heartache. Thanks to my experiences in law school, I am as prepared as possible to start making a difference for my child clients right away.

What you should know about Virginia Law:
 In addition to providing the highest quality academic opportunities, UVA is a cheerful and supportive place to go to law school, no matter what area of law you might want to pursue. I have had tremendous support pursuing a career in child advocacy. I have seen my peers get the same dedicated support in the areas of immigration law, poverty law, international law, human rights and criminal law — and they all look happy doing it! 

Meet the Graduates: Class of 2010