Alumnae Return as Career Services, Admissions Directors
Two alumnae have returned to the University of Virginia School of Law as administrators: Elizabeth L. Kade ’11 as director of career services, and Ashley Claffee Merritt ’15 as director of admissions.
Kade had worked since 2014 as a trial attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Division Federal Programs Branch, representing the United States in high-profile civil litigation. After law school, she was an associate at Vinson & Elkins in Washington, D.C., assisting in the representation of energy companies before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
“Elizabeth’s work on high-stakes matters in both private practice and at the Department of Justice makes her a perfect counselor for students who are weighing both types of practice,” said Kevin Donovan, senior assistant dean for career services.
Kade spent a portion of her time at the DOJ mentoring students and running a summer internship program, which helped aspiring attorneys refine their career paths. So taking a similar position at UVA Law was an opportunity she couldn’t pass up, she said.
“The Career Services Office is in the business of hopes and dreams,” Kade said. “The students are entrusting us with the things that they want to do with their lives, and it’s our job to help them achieve those goals.”
At UVA Law, Kade was managing editor of production on the Virginia Journal of International Law and was a Lile Moot Court participant. Additionally, she was a member of Virginia Law Women and the Public Interest Law Association, and a section representative to the Human Rights Program. She holds a B.A. in government and Russian studies from the College of William & Mary.
Prior to joining the Office of Admissions, Merritt was an associate in the Washington, D.C., office of Willkie Farr & Gallagher’s Asset Management Group, where her practice focused on advising the sponsors of hedge funds and mutual funds.
During her time at UVA Law, she was, among other activities, vice president of the Student Bar Association, a member of the Black Law Students Association and a Peer Advisor.
Cordel Faulk ’01, assistant dean and chief admissions officer, said Merritt took a leadership role in student recruitment while at UVA Law and helped his department plan the Admitted Students Open House during her three years here.
“Ashley has been a consequential member of the UVA Law admissions team since her first days in the building,” Faulk said. “We’re so lucky to have her, and future classes will be better for her input. Her instincts are exceptional.”
Merritt also has a B.A. in art history from UVA. As an undergraduate, Merritt was a member of the University Guide Service, an Honor Committee support officer and a Sustained Dialogue moderator.
One of Merritt’s goals as director is to continue efforts to diversify the classroom, in part by serving as a living example to prospective students.
“I really want to show people who look like me, or who are from other populations that are under-represented in law schools, that there’s a home for them here and that this is a community that’s very welcoming and inclusive,” said Merritt, who is African-American.
She said that, heading into law school, she wanted to go into education and was particularly interested in what the admissions office did, so she jumped at the opportunity to apply when the position opened.
“I’ve heard somebody say, ‘Charlottesville grows with you,’ and that’s been the experience for me,” she said. “Charlottesville definitely gave me what I needed as an undergrad, and as a law school student it was the same thing.”