Meet the Graduates - Class of 2011

Students Brown Sarah Chase-Levenson Kellan Fowler Laura Paliani Aditi Goel David Perez Piacenti

Meet the Graduates
Members of the Class of 2012 talk about their experiences at Virginia Law.

Hometown: Miami, Fla.

Who I was then: I graduated from the University of Miami in 2008 with a bachelor's degree in international studies and English. I took a year off between undergrad and law school, during which I was a member of the New York City Urban Fellows Program. Through Urban Fellows, I worked at the New York City Department of Homeless Services.

Amazing law school class: I enjoyed the Law and Public Service seminar with Professor Anne Coughlin and Immigration Law with Professor Kerry Abrams.  Beyond that, my time with the Innocence Project Clinic has been an immensely rewarding experience. I think everyone, regardless of their interests, should take a clinic. Law school is obviously a challenging experience. In the midst of all that, it is sometimes easy to lose sight of what you came here for. Clinics are a helpful reminder that there is, indeed, a light at the end of the exam tunnel. In addition to being a great practical experience, clinics also instill in you the tremendous value of pro bono work. That is hopefully something everyone will carry with them into their careers.  

Outside class: I was an articles editor for the Virginia Journal of International Law. I was also treasurer of the Black Law Students Association my 2L year and deputy financial officer of the Student Legal Forum my 3L year.

Favorite outing/activity to unwind: Charlottesville has an abundance of great restaurants.  My favorites are Bang!, Ten and Tavola. On the less expensive side, I love Eppie's and Bellair Market. Finally, like everyone in Charlottesville, I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Bodo's [Bagels]. 

Resume lowdown: The summer after my 1L year, I worked in the Office of the Prosecutor at the U.N. International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, in Arusha, Tanzania. The summer after my 2L year, I worked at Community Legal Services of Philadelphia in their Housing Unit.

Noteworthy summer job: 
It will be difficult for any job to top my internship at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. As an undergraduate who majored in international studies, I spent a lot of time in college studying the Rwandan genocide and the work of the ICTR and other tribunals like it. It was incredible to be able to go to Tanzania and experience firsthand something I had previously only understood in an abstract, academic way. It was also great to work with so many like-minded law students from all over the world, including three other students from UVA. It's also safe to say that after going on safari, I'll never go to another zoo.

Who I am now: For the next two years, I will be clerking for Judge Petrese B. Tucker in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. I'm still the same person I was when I came to law school, just hopefully a little smarter.

What you should know about Virginia Law: The best thing about UVA Law is that there is no planned route to take. Regardless of your reasons for coming to law school, there are countless opportunities for you to meet interesting people and join organizations that will nurture your strengths and help you to grow beyond any limitations you thought you had.   


Hometown: Charlottesville, Va.

Who I was then: I started law school right after my graduation from Stanford University, where I got my bachelor's in English. I didn’t have any legal background, but I brought a love of reading and analysis —which proved to be a great background for my legal education.

Amazing law school class: There have been so many, it’s hard to pick just one. I’ve loved all of the seminars I’ve taken here. My 3L fall I took a class called Regulating Public Space in Historical and Theoretical Perspective taught by the incredible team of Professor Risa Goluboff and Professor Richard Schragger. It was a seminar that focused on the legal issues surrounding “open,” or public spaces. It was an incredible class, that explored everything from vagrancy statutes to First Amendment considerations in the public arena — and it was a fantastic experience to explore such a rich area with a small group of motivated students and two wonderful professors.

Outside class: I was (until recently) the editor-in-chief of the Virginia Law and Business Review. This was a great opportunity to engage in legal scholarship. It was also important in terms of acquiring leadership experience while still in law school, and to gain a handle on a growing and complex area of legal practice. I was able to network with some incredible scholars in the area by publishing their work, and I got to work with a group of people who shared my interest and desire for involvement in this area.

Favorite outing/activity to unwind: As a “townie,” I came back to Charlottesville knowing how many incredible opportunities there were for relaxing here — and the past three years I’ve had even more experiences that convinced me that my town was the best place to live. There’s a ton of great hiking in the area, beautiful vineyards for wine-tasting excursions, tubing down the James, an incredible selection of restaurants, a vibrant downtown area and a strong music scene. I could go on and on.

Noteworthy summer job: The summer after my 1L year, I worked as a research assistant for George Geis, a fantastic professor here at the Law School. It was such a great experience because it’s an opportunity to build a close working relationship with a professor, and to engage firsthand with the creation of legal academic scholarship. I did research for an article he was writing on third-party beneficiaries in contract law, and it was so rewarding to gain extensive knowledge in a niche area of the law, and to view the process of legal research and academic writing firsthand.

Resume lowdown: During college, I interned at Barclays Bank in London, worked as a research assistant in law school, and served as a summer associate at a law firm — the same firm I will be returning to when I move to D.C. next year.

Who I am now: I’m graduating this spring, and will be studying for the bar exam here in town. Next fall, I’ll move to D.C. to start work at the firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. It’s still surreal to be graduating, but I feel ready to move on to these next stages in my legal career.

What you should know about Virginia Law: Virginia Law is that rare thing: a law school people love. Everything you hear about collegiality and a noncompetitive learning environment — it’s all true. You’ll get a stellar legal education, without the stress and competition that it often entails. And while much of law school is challenging, the hardest thing about Virginia Law is leaving it after graduation!


Hometown: Kaysville, Utah

Who I was then: I was a pretty normal guy. I loved sports and played on several of my high school teams. Being from Utah, I really enjoyed outdoor activities like skiing, boating and fishing. Like many teenagers, I probably spent too much of my time playing video games, trying to meet girls and messing around with my friends.

Amazing law school class: I think it would be a toss-up between Corporate Strategy taught by Jim Donovan and Law and Business Management in the Healthcare Sector taught by Mimi Riley, Dick Crawford and Tom Massaro.

Outside: I am a member of the Rex E. Lee Law Society, Virginia Law Families and the Federalist Society. I have also been on the editorial board of the Virginia Journal of Sports and Entertainment. This year, I went out on a limb and played a part in the Libel Show, UVA's version of the law revue comedy show. I still love sports and spend a lot of my time on the softball field (it's UVA after all!), in the gym, or playing in the university-wide intramural leagues.

Favorite outing/activity to unwind: One of my favorite things to do in Charlottesville is to go hiking at Sugar Hollow. It is a pretty, short, easy hike to a great little swimming hole with a rope swing. I also enjoy going out to eat at all of the local Charlottesville restaurants. 

Noteworthy summer job: This past summer I worked with the large firm Latham & Watkins in San Diego, Calif. I really enjoyed the people that I worked with and the chance the internship gave me to experience what working as a lawyer is like on a day-to-day basis.

Resume lowdown: During college I had all kinds of random jobs. I worked as a waiter and did catering, I removed asbestos from old buildings, I spent a summer as a personal trainer, and I did yard maintenance and installed sprinkling systems.  Between college and law school, I spent one year working with a wealth management and financial planning firm.

Who I am now: I am an older and (hopefully) wiser version of the same person I was growing up who is now always trying to live up to my better half, my wife, Sarah. We are sad to see our time here at UVA growing short, but excited to move into the next phase of life and see what the future holds. 

What you should know about Virginia Law: Virginia law provides a great legal education in a great community environment. If you come to UVA you will be challenged and grow academically, but you will also have a lot of fun. It is the people and the positive attitude here that truly make Virginia law unique.


Who I was then: I spent my last quarter of college at University of California, San Diego doing an externship in Washington, D.C., as an investigator with the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia. My time there turned out to be a complete game-changer; I was captivated by public defense and everything that the work stood for. The internship turned into a yearlong stay in D.C., where I continued my job as an investigator and applied to law schools with the goal of becoming a public defender.

Amazing law school class: Without a doubt, Evidence with Professor Frederick Schauer and Criminal Investigation with Professor Rachel Harmon. I felt like I was finally learning the rules to the game!

Outside class: I served on the board of the Public Interest Law Association (PILA) for two years, first as a director for the PILA Auction and more recently as a membership director.  One of the best experiences I had on the board was interviewing students applying for PILA grants to fund their summer public interest jobs. Each year, it reminded me how fortunate I was to be surrounded by such a talented, ambitious and dedicated group of students right here at the law school.  

Favorite outing/activity to unwind: There is nothing I loved more than spending time with my friends here and enjoying my favorite places in town with them. Whether it was going to the farmers' market downtown on a Saturday morning, visiting one of the many scenically beautiful vineyards, eating out at a local favorite, or spending an evening at home with my housemates, I found endless, enjoyable ways to relax and unwind in Charlottesville.  

Noteworthy summer job: During my 2L summer, I worked for the Defender Association in Seattle. It was there that I met my first client, did my first jury trial and experienced my first loss. Developing relationships with my clients and being responsible for their cases was truly a remarkable experience that I will never forget.

Resume lowdown: Over the span of my three years here, I interned with the Defender Association, the San Diego County Public Defender’s Office, the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office and JustChildren at the Legal Aid Justice Center in Charlottesville. I was a student in the Capital Post-Conviction Clinic during my second year, the Innocence Project Clinic during my third year, and, prior to law school, I worked as an investigator with the Public Defender Service.

Who I am now: I came to law school with a background in public defense, and I am very, very lucky to be able to see my interest unravel into a career. I look forward to serving as a public defender in Boston at the Committee for Public Counsel Services starting this fall.

What you should know about Virginia Law: It cannot be emphasized enough that UVA Law is an exceptionally collegial law school. The amount of support I have received from the law school community — its students, professors, public service career advisors and administrative staff — is not only incredible, but it is truly heart-warming. If I had to do it all over again, I would not do any of it differently.


Hometown: Brooklyn, N.Y.

Who I was then: I always thought I would go into a math/science field like architecture or medicine. I didn't really think about law school until my junior year of college. I majored in the history and the sociology of science, with an emphasis on biology and bioethics.  As I became more interested in the legal, social and ethical aspects of medicine and healthcare, it made sense to pursue that interest by going to law school.

Amazing law school class: The Supreme Court Litigation Clinic has been a particularly unique and valuable experience. We worked in small teams with professors and attorneys from New York and D.C. — all with abundant appellate litigation experience — on cases for real clients appealing to the Supreme Court. My first group filed a cert petition on a case about the penal exception to the full faith and credit clause. I also worked on a cert petition on the scope of the routine booking exception to Miranda, and a brief in opposition to a cert petition on a preemption question, among other cases. Working with the directors and other students in the clinic on litigation strategy and seeing each brief through from the very first stages of research and drafting, through editing and production, to filing it with the court has been invaluable.

Outside class: North Grounds Softball League; Journal of Law & Politics; Student Bar Association (1L representative, Barrister's Ball co-chair); pro bono work for the Legal Aid Justice Center, Jefferson Area Board for Aging, New York Legal Assistance Group and AEquitas; dance classes at the Aquatic and Fitness Center; yoga and Pilates classes at local studios

Favorite outing/activity to unwind: I love to walk down to the farmers' market by the Downtown Mall on Saturdays to grab some lunch and stock up on fresh, local produce for the week. My friends and I hike Humpback Rock and go for tastings at some of the nearby wineries and breweries whenever we get the chance. C'ville also has a fun music scene, drawing some big names like Lady Gaga last fall and hosting a lot of local talent. This past fall my friends and I went to Festy, an annual bluegrass music festival near Devil's Backbone Brewery outside of town. Tons of good food and music surrounded by the mountains. It's one of my favorite law school memories.

Noteworthy summer job: I worked for U.S. District Court Judge John D. Bates in Washington, D.C., the summer after my 1L year and loved every minute of it. I was in court every day observing status conferences, motion and plea agreement hearings, sentencings and trials, not only in front of my judge, but also other judges in the courthouse.  As a judicial intern, I worked closely with Judge Bates' clerks on the cases to which I was assigned and learned how opinions are researched and drafted in chambers. I would recommend the experience to any student with even a remote interest in litigation.

Resume lowdown:  I have performed pro bono for the Legal Aid Justice Center and the New York Legal Assistance Group, served as a summer associate at Sullivan & Cromwell, and, as previously mentioned, worked as a judicial intern for U.S. District Court Judge John D. Bates and as a student associate in the Supreme Court Litigation Clinic.

Who I am now: Next fall, I'll join the litigation group at Sullivan & Cromwell in New York. I'm eager to get my career started, and am confident UVA has prepared me well. But the idea of leaving this place and these people makes my heart ache, so I'll be just as excited to come back to Charlottesville and visit. 

What you should know about Virginia Law: I genuinely believe there is no law school experience anywhere that compares to the Virginia Law experience. The school's reputation for affording its students a balance between hard work and learning, and camaraderie and fun, has been borne out in my time here.

At UVA you will meet a wide range of highly motivated, extremely talented and driven individuals who come together to learn from each other. The student body brings to bear a range of life experiences unlike any I'd ever been exposed to before. Some of my classmates went to huge research universities, others to liberal arts colleges. Some have lived and worked all over the world. Some have served in the military. Some have families. Some are very young. Some are on their second or even third careers. The range of viewpoints has enriched both my academic and social experiences at the law school.

Although the faculty is world-renowned and internationally respected, I've also found my professors to be completely dedicated to the students here and to giving us quality instruction and a valuable classroom experience.


Hometown: Lyndhurst, N.J.

Who I was then: I graduated from the University of Southern California in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in political science and American Studies and came directly to law school.  

Amazing law school class: Criminal Defense Clinic. During my last semester of law school I had the opportunity to represent real clients charged with misdemeanor crimes in Charlottesville and Albemarle General District Court. Although we discussed our cases in class and met weekly with a supervising attorney, I handled all aspects of the cases on my own — from conducting client and witness interviews to negotiating plea deals with the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office. The clinic was the most practical experience I had at Virginia Law as it gave me the ability to apply the legal reasoning skills developed in law school classes to actual cases and real-world situations.
Outside class: I served on the managing board of the Virginia Sports & Entertainment Law Journal as the articles development editor. I also worked with the Admissions Office as a Virginia Law ambassador, conducted client intake for the Legal Aid Justice Center Civil Advocacy Pro Bono Project, and was a member of the North Grounds Softball League.

Favorite outing/activity to unwind: The Corner. Whether it’s grabbing dinner or going out for drinks or a late night meal at The White Spot or Christian’s, The Corner represents so much of what UVA is about and what it’s like to live in a college town like Charlottesville.

Noteworthy summer job: My 1L summer I worked at the United States Attorney’s Office - District of New Jersey. After my 2L year, I worked as a summer associate for Jones Day in Los Angeles.

Resume lowdown: I will be returning to Jones Day's Los Angeles office in October 2012.

Who I am now: After three years at Virginia Law, I feel prepared and confident as I move on to the next step in my life. I am fortunate to have had such a positive law school experience that was not only fun but that has put me in the best position I could hope for to start my career as an attorney. It’s a credit to the school’s faculty and student body, as they both facilitate a respectful and friendly learning environment.

What you should know about Virginia Law: Most of us will be working and living in major cities for a lot of our lives. Virginia Law allows you to experience the quality of life and college town experience that is Charlottesville, which creates a unique, collegial law school experience. Since I arrived at Virginia Law, I have had the opportunity to meet and work with Virginia Law alumni of all ages and backgrounds. Every conversation I have had with these alumni has had a nostalgic feel to it because they looked back and remembered their time at Virginia fondly. The Virginia Law experience fosters one of the strongest alumni networks in the world, which becomes an integral part of our personal and professional lives for years after graduation.


Hometown: Dallas, Texas

Who I was then: I graduated in 2003 from the University of California at Irvine and then spent six years as a music teacher in the Dallas/Fort Worth area while doing some local performing on the side. I taught private voice lessons to high school students for three years and general music to Kindergarten-5th grade students after that.

Amazing law school class: It's too hard to pick just one! So I'll have to cheat a bit and mention two: Federal Courts taught by John C. Jeffries and Family Law taught by Professor Kerry Abrams. Jeffries, a former dean of the Law School, is a compelling lecturer who made a difficult class both manageable and exciting, and Professor Abrams is unmatched in her ability to facilitate great classroom discussions.

Outside class: I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to be editor-in-chief of the Virginia Law Review and vice president of Lambda Law Alliance. I learned so much from working in each of those positions, and I value all the friendships that I made. 

Favorite outing/activity to unwind: My favorite thing to do in Charlottesville is go to dinner with friends. My new favorite restaurant is Bella's on Main Street. After dinner, my friends and I like to head to Sweet Frog for frozen yogurt or Ben & Jerry's for ice cream. 

Noteworthy summer job: During my 1L summer, I worked for Professor Kerry Abrams, researching in the areas of immigration law and family law. Last summer, I worked in the Dallas office of Vinson & Elkins. I did many types of projects, but my favorite assignment was an asylum case. I was very pleased to see the firm devoting its resources to helping people in need, and I also enjoyed using what I learned in my Immigration Law course and from working for Professor Abrams.

Resume lowdown: After the bar exam, I will head to Portland to clerk for Judge Susan P. Graber of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. In the fall of 2013, I plan to return to Dallas to work for Vinson & Elkins.

Who I am now: After three years of law school, I have a much better awareness of different points of view on various subjects. No matter how passionately I feel about a contentious issue, there is always a good argument on the other side. I have enjoyed listening to classmates articulate their positions.

What you should know about Virginia Law: It's difficult for me to believe I could have found a better place to go to law school. If you are looking for a place to get an outstanding legal education and to make great friends and professional contacts, then this is the place for you. The experience I had here was better than I ever expected, and I wish the same for everyone who attends in years to come. 

Meet the Graduates: Class of 2011