Meet the Graduates

Meet the Graduates

Members of the Class of 2018 talk about their experiences at Virginia Law

Joe Charlet

Joe Charlet '18

Who I was then: I graduated in 2011 from Yale, where I majored in classical civilization. My focus was on the religions of the Roman empire as a lens into the largely unrecorded lives of women, the military and the poor. I then worked in communications and web development for four years before coming to law school.

Amazing law school class: I had some incredible law school classes — everything with Professor Toby Heytens and Professor Ashley Deeks, for instance — but I think my J-terms [January term classes] might have been the most fun, particularly Roman Family Law with Professor Michael Doran given my classics background, but also Admiralty with Professor George Rutherglen and The Psychology of Dispute Resolution with Professor Greg Mitchell. I like how a legal education allows you to engage intellectually with any legal subject even if you do not have substantive expertise in that area, and the J-terms are a cool way to test that by being dropped into a very specific, interesting area of law for a week and seeing what you can make of it. Though, I would be remiss if I did not mention the Appellate Litigation Clinic with Professor Stephen Braga, through which I was able to fully brief and argue a case in front of the Fourth Circuit along with my clinic teammate, which was a phenomenal hands-on learning experience. 

Outside class: I was the managing editor of production for volume 58 of the Virginia Journal of International Law and an articles editor before that; the vice president of voter protection for the UVA Law Democrats and acted as a poll observer all three years; the social chair of the Lambda Law Alliance; a co-outreach coordinator for the Virginia Environmental Law Forum (VELF); a Black Law Students Association (BLSA) moot court competitor and international service trip participant; an extramural moot court competitor; a writer and cast member for the 110th Libel Show; and I founded and co-captained the Pan-Affinity Group softball team. Sometimes it felt like I did too many things, but there are so many amazing organizations and activities to get involved in here that I feel like I barely scratched the surface. 

Favorite outing/activity to unwind: My friends and I try to take advantage of all the hiking around Charlottesville, especially longer hikes like Stony Man or Old Rag. I also love the plethora of music venues in town from giant arenas to smaller club venues — I’ve probably seen a dozen shows and there are a ton more I wish I had made time for. I’ve been known to partake in the awesome restaurant, brewery, and winery scene here before concerts and after hiking as well. An unsung favorite of mine is Moose’s by the Creek, which you should go to for a great diner experience. 

Noteworthy summer job: My 1L summer I worked for the DOJ at the Environment and Natural Resources Division, which was an incredible experience for so many reasons, especially the amount of substantive work I was able to do and how much the attorneys invested in us.

What’s next: I am going to Hogan Lovells in D.C. I learned so much from so many great attorneys at the firm during my 2L summer, so I am really excited to rotate through the different groups that do litigation to find the right practice area for my skills and interests. 

Who I am now: I am actually a much more optimistic person now. Part of my optimism stems from having had the ability all throughout law school to use what I learned in the classroom to help actual people in the real world through pro bono work and clinics, which instilled a lot of confidence in me that real progress can be made through the law if people are given access to representation. The rest of my optimism is borne out of the fact that I have spent three years working with and around incredible people of all stripes with so many varied interests, and from this experience I truly believe the larger public is going to be well-served by this next generation of lawyers. 

What you should know about Virginia Law: We have an almost unbelievable community here. Not only will your peers become some of your best friends, they will do your errands when you’re sick and lend their networks to you when they hear of a perfect opportunity for you. Your professors invite you into their homes for class or book clubs. My 1L Civ Pro professor would come play poker with us. I have had multiple professors who had not yet met me email me reactions to things I had written for the Virginia Law Weekly. You will also find that the students are incredibly grateful to everyone who helps us in the Law School, often expressing that gratitude for the larger staff community by initiating campaigns for holiday cards/gifts or for wider community recognition.

Jennifer Davidson

Jennifer Davidson '18

Who I was then: I graduated from Dartmouth College in 2015 with a double major in government and women’s & gender studies 

Amazing law school class: I’ve had so many classes I’ve truly loved at UVA, but one particular stand-out was Constitutional Law. Our section was lucky enough to have Dean Risa Goluboff as our small-section professor in her last semester before officially becoming dean. She has an incredible way of bringing the cases we had to read to life. She provides so much dimension to even what may have seemed like a very cut-and-dried type of case. Not only did she make sure we understood the laws and rules, but she always helped us zoom out to see the bigger picture, and the ways that the law interacts with real people and problems — and the role we, as future lawyers, play in that process. 

Outside class: I served as an articles development editor for the Virginia Law Review and competed in the William Minor Lile Intramural Moot Court Competition (and was fortunate enough to win alongside my friend and former section-mate Jay Swanson). I also am a Law and Public Service Program fellow, and was on the boards of the Domestic Violence Project and the Virginia Animal Law Society

Favorite outing/activity to unwind: Charlottesville and the area surrounding it is beautiful, so I love any opportunity to spend time outside, whether it be having a picnic at Carter Mountain’s sunset series with live music playing, or going for a hike, or making a visit to one of the vineyards close to the school. 

Noteworthy summer job: During my 1L summer, I worked at the Office of International Affairs in the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice. During my 2L summer, I worked at Altshuler Berzon, a San Francisco firm that works primarily with labor unions and on social and economic justice cases. 

What’s next: I will be clerking for Judge Gregg Costa on the Fifth Circuit in Houston, Texas, then Judge Wendy Beetlestone in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Who I am now: Law school unquestionably helped me grow so much as a person. I am leaving far more confident in myself, my abilities and the career I hope to build — but also leaving humbled by and grateful for all the amazing people I have met here, who I know will remain lifelong friends and do incredible things with their careers. 

What you should know about Virginia Law: My three years at UVA exceeded every expectation I had starting out— people will tell you a lot about what law school is like, but it’s impossible to really understand before you experience it yourself. Virginia Law is a place where you will get to know amazing professors and students, both inside and outside of the classroom. The academic and overall experience here is truly remarkable. 

Alexander Hoffarth

Alexander Hoffarth '18

Who I was then: I graduated from Boston College in 2013 with a degree in political science. I then worked for a year in international equity research for the asset management firm Manning & Napier.

Amazing law school class: I agree with the Princeton Review that we have the best professors of any law school in the country, but that makes answering this question quite difficult. Given my simultaneous interests in corporate law and constitutional law as a J.D.-MBA student, I have enrolled in a wide array of courses, and the professors across the board have been outstanding. I have had the chance to take several professors multiple times: Rachel Harmon (Criminal Law/Criminal Procedure Survey); George Cohen (Contracts/Agency and Partnership/Professional Responsibility/Seminar in Ethical Values); Michael Doran (Property/Federal Income Tax); and Michael Collins (Evidence/Conflict of Laws). All share the same qualities: they are subject-matter experts, excellent in the classroom setting, and always accessible outside of class to talk about the course or about life. But my favorite individual course was Federal Courts with John Jeffries. Professor Jeffries may be the best lecturer I have ever had. He is incredibly engaging and the subject matter incorporated elements from previous courses, such as Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law and Legislation, which was incredibly valuable.

Outside class: The most meaningful activities I am involved with have been as a Peer Advisor (for Section J last year and Section A this year) and as a Virginia Law Ambassador. I am also a member of the Federalist Society, the St. Thomas More Society, the Law Christian Fellowship, the Tri-Sector Leadership Fellows Program, and on the editorial board of the Virginia Law Review. And, of course, I have played plenty of softball! 

Favorite outing/activity to unwind: Having gone to another ACC school for college, I have enjoyed staying in the ACC for law school. I have caught just about every UVA football game and basketball game, along with a number of soccer, lacrosse and baseball games. I think I have memorized the “Good Old Song” by now. Wahoowa! 

Noteworthy summer job: I worked in Washington, D.C., all three summers. I worked for the Republican Attorneys General Association the first summer and then as a summer associate for Hogan Lovells the past two summers. 

What’s next: I will be clerking for Judge Diane S. Sykes of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Then I will return to the Washington, D.C., office of Hogan Lovells, where I plan to practice corporate/transactional law.

Who I am now: I look at these four years at the University of Virginia with a feeling of overwhelming gratitude. I have grown in so many ways: I am a better writer, I think about the world around me with a more critical eye, and I have developed a passion for the intersection for law, business and politics. And, along the way, I have met some of my best friends. 

What you should know about Virginia Law: I do not come from a family of lawyers, and when I applied to law school, I did not know what to expect. I did not know anyone that had enjoyed law school; indeed, I thought the best one could do was “tolerate” the upcoming three years. I visited UVA Law for the admitted student open house and, much to my surprise, I heard from student after student about how much they loved law school. Not only that, they said that the most competitive you would see your classmates was out on the softball diamond, rather than in the library or the classroom! Four years later, I can confirm that they were spot on. The people make this community special. It’s a genuine nationwide law school — my classmates come from all over and depart for all over — and you will find your classmates to be some of the most impressive people you have ever met. But you will also find that the students are down-to-earth and fundamentally care about one another. I cannot tell you how many times I have missed class, and, without me asking for them, my classmates have sent along their notes. Where else can you find that? It makes for a great quality of life while studying the law!


Stephanie Fung

Stephanie Fung '18

Hometown: Wayne, New Jersey

Who I was then: I graduated from UC Berkeley in 2014 with a double major in history and French. I spent much of my time in undergrad doing research on Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge Tribunal, and after college, I continued that work at a research organization in Hawaii. When applying to law schools, I was interested in foreign policy and living in a new part of the country, so UVA was the natural choice.

Amazing law school class: My favorite classes were Constitutional Law and Employment Discrimination, both with Professor Kim Forde-Mazrui. He really made litigation click for me, and I wish I could have taken more classes with him. I also loved Trusts and Estates with Professor Gordon Hylton and Evidence with Professor Michael Collins. During my 3L fall semester, I also externed at the U.S. Department of the Treasury through UVA Law in DC. It was a great way to experience practicing as a government lawyer and an opportunity to learn about career paths UVA Law alumni have taken in Washington, D.C.

Outside class: I was a member of APALSA and also served on the Submissions Review Board for the Virginia Journal of International Law.

Favorite outing/activity to unwind: Hiking in Shenandoah National Park with my roommate, followed by burgers at Riverside Lunch.

Noteworthy summer job: During my 1L summer, I interned in the trial chamber for the case against Ratko Mladic at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague. It was so much fun spending the summer in the Netherlands, and I loved learning about international criminal law from lawyers and judges who have spent their careers in the field. I spent my 2L summer at the Silicon Valley office of O’Melveny & Myers, where I learned a lot about litigation and the tech industry.

What’s next: After taking the California bar exam, I will be returning to O’Melveny & Myers in Silicon Valley as a litigation associate.

Who I am now: Law school teaches you how to break down an issue and come up with a creative solution, which will serve me wherever my career takes me, but I’ve also learned how to approach different perspectives with more empathy and understanding. I now feel confident in my ability to tackle a problem effectively and better engage with people with whom I may disagree.

What you should know about Virginia Law: It’s easy to get bogged down by readings and Legal Research and Writing, but remember that we have a faculty that truly wants to help and support its students. The professors here are so kind and have had incredible careers. They are a great resource for understanding the law and navigating law school and life after. Also, our Career Services team is outstanding!

Keyawna Griffith

Keyawna Griffith '18

Hometown: Waldorf, Maryland

Who I was then: I was a Terp studying criminology and criminal justice at the University of Maryland, College Park. I graduated in 2015 and came straight to UVA Law.

Amazing law school class: While I have had several amazing professors at UVA, two classes that I have enjoyed the most are Urban Law and Policy and Juvenile Justice. I enjoyed Urban Law and Policy because I learned innovative strategies cities can use to redistribute resources more equitably among residents of different backgrounds. This class had a lasting impression on me because I learned practical ways the law can be used to implement these strategies. I enjoyed Juvenile Justice because it gave me the opportunity to explore why minority juveniles are overrepresented in the criminal justice system. I have always been curious about what causes this issue. Taking this class allowed me to dive deeper into the issue and come up with a practical solution.  

Outside class: I have been involved with the Black Law Students Association (BLSA) since I was a 1L. As a 1L, I attended the National Black Law Students Association (NBLSA) convention as the delegate for UVA BLSA. As a 2L, I was the parliamentarian for UVA BLSA and a mentor to a 1L in BLSA. During this time, I was also the national internal chief of staff for NBLSA. In this role, I helped the national vice chair manage the national executive board, advised pre-law students at the National Black and Hispanic Pre-law Conference, attended plenary sessions at four different regional NBLSA conferences across the country, and wrote a guide advising current and prospective national executive board members about how to balance school work while serving on the national board. As a 3L, I continued to be a mentor to a BLSA 1L. In addition to BLSA, I served as the marketing coordinator for the Black Graduate & Professional Student Organization at UVA and sang and helped teach Sunday School at my home church in Maryland.

Favorite outing/activity to unwind: I love going to the downtown mall. From eating, to watching concerts, to listening to civil rights leaders, to having photo shoots with my friends, some of my most fun memories from my time in law school were made on the downtown mall. I also love watching the sunset on Carter Mountain; the view is incredible.   

Noteworthy summer job: During my 2L summer, I worked at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher, & Flom in D.C. While there, I worked on white-collar investigations and researched the parameters of the attorney-client privilege. I also made a presentation to partners, updating them on changes to different policies relating to white-collar crimes. This job was noteworthy because I worked one-on-one with a lot of different partners and even had some of my work product sent directly to a client. 

What’s next: After I graduate, I will practice litigation in Skadden’s D.C. office. I will also clerk for Judge Leslie Abrams for the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia from 2019 to 2021.

Who I am now: UVA Law has improved me both physically and mentally. For starters, I am a better softball player. Though I am still not an all-star, I can hit the ball more often and farther than I could before my 1L season. More importantly, I am a better thinker. I have learned that great arguments are made by digging into the nuances of statutes and case law. The amount of gray area in statutes and cases is what makes the law complex. But I have grown to appreciate this complexity, because it provides an opportunity to create alternative interpretations of the law and make meaningful change in the legal system.

What you should know about Virginia Law: UVA is not just a place where students will build sophisticated skills, it is also a place where students will create a strong social network. This network is special because it is made of students who want to see you do well just as much as the professors do. The student mentors I had as a 1L and 2L were invaluable. I was blown away by how they took me under their wings. These students did everything from sending me outlines, to giving me advice for pursuing clerkships, to introducing me to top law firms that would eventually hire me as a summer associate and full time. My experience at UVA would have been a lot different without them. I cannot think of many other schools that have students working just as hard for each other as they are for themselves.

Ricardo Fraga

Ricardo Fraga '18

Who I was then: I graduated in 2015 from the University of Miami, where I majored in accounting and minored in political science and business law.

Amazing law school class: This is a tough one because I took so many interesting classes with extraordinary professors, but if I had to pick just one it would have to be Land Use with Professor Molly Brady. I’ve always had an interest in real estate and property, so when I saw this class offered it seemed like a no-brainer. This was the first class that Professor Brady taught at UVA Law, so many of us enrolled were understandably anxious about her as a professor since we had no idea what to expect going in. The anxiety quickly washed away after the first day and the course has been one of the best I’ve taken at either the undergraduate or graduate level, which is testament to Professor Brady’s clear lecturing style and how approachable she is both in and out of the classroom. The material I learned in the class helped me immensely with the various projects I worked on as a summer associate during my 2L summer, and the class also helped solidify my area of legal interest, real estate.   

Outside class: During my time in law school, I served as the vice president of the Latin American Law Organization, as a senator on the Student Bar Association, as a Virginia Law Ambassador, and as a Peer Advisor. I was also a member of the Virginia Tax Review’s managing board.

Favorite outing/activity to unwind: Coming from a large city, I didn’t expect Charlottesville to have many activities to keep me preoccupied while not studying in the library. Initially, I was okay with that because I thought, “Hey, I should probably be in the library studying all day anyway as a 1L.” Thankfully, I was wrong, first about staying in the library all day — yes, working is incredibly important, but so is having a good work-life balance — and second, about Charlottesville’s lack of activities. There’s always something new and fun to do in town, but my three favorite activities have been the fall sunset series at Carter Mountain Orchards, attending UVA football games on Saturdays and visiting the various breweries in town, such as Random Row and Three Notch’d.

Noteworthy summer job: I split my 1L summer between working for Judge Adalberto Jordan on the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals and for Judge Federico Moreno on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. During my 2L summer I had the opportunity to work for Holland & Knight in Miami, where I’ll be returning after graduation.  

What’s next: This summer I’ll be staying in Charlottesville to study for the Florida bar. After taking the bar I’ll return back home to Miami where I’ll work for Holland & Knight’s real estate transactions group.

Who I am now: Coming to UVA Law was, without a doubt, one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I feel incredibly blessed to have been a part of this community for the past three years and I look forward to continuing to be involved with the school in the future. I leave UVA Law knowing that I am a better person than when I first came in. Not only have I learned a great deal about the law and how to analyze it critically, but I have also become more confident in my communication abilities and passionate about helping others. I look forward to utilizing all that I’ve learned to be both the best attorney and community member I can be.

What you should know about Virginia Law: Everyone knows that UVA is the best institution to receive a legal education, but equally, if not more important, is the fact that UVA is a family where students, faculty and staff push each other every day to become the best people we can be. As a 1L, the director of Career Services, Kevin Donovan, told our incoming class that UVA is the “Disney World” of law schools, and he really wasn’t kidding. Students are expected to succeed in the classroom, but also to be good, sociable and responsible members of the community. Law school was a blast, but I leave knowing that I made memories and friends that will last a lifetime, Wahoowa!

Katie Montoya

Katie Montoya '18

Who I was then: I earned my bachelor’s degree in government with an emphasis on political theory from Patrick Henry College, a small classical liberal arts school in Northern Virginia.

Amazing law school class: Limited to one class, I have to say Federal Courts with John Jeffries. This was undoubtedly the hardest class I took in law school, but the material was intellectually stimulating and greatly enhanced my understanding of almost every federal case I read. It was also a privilege to learn under the professor who literally wrote the book on the topic and is an exceptionally talented lecturer.

Outside class: I served on the Virginia Law Review, first as a member of the editorial board and then on the managing board as an articles development editor. I was also a member of the Supreme Court Litigation Clinic and involved with the Federalist Society.

Favorite outing/activity to unwind: My family and I love the outdoors, and we’ve spent hours hiking the trail networks around the Saunders-Monticello Trail and in Ragged Mountain Natural Area. The areas surrounding Charlottesville are beautiful, and it’s restorative to spend time in nature.

Noteworthy summer job: I spent the summer between my 1L and 2L years working for the solicitor general of West Virginia. I knew I wanted to try my hand at appellate litigation, and I couldn’t have asked for a better introduction. The office was small, which meant there was plenty of rigorous work for me to cut my teeth on, and the cases involved fascinating legal issues. The entire experience made me interested in the possibility of serving in state government in the future.

What’s next: My second son is due on June 1. After he’s born, I’ll spend the summer studying for the Texas bar exam before moving to Houston to clerk for Judge Jerry Smith on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Then my family and I will move to D.C., where I’ll enter private practice. I hope to do a good deal of work with my firm’s appellate group, and I’m also hoping to maintain an active criminal defense practice.

Who I am now: Studying at Virginia Law has helped me appreciate what a powerful tool the law is — both for good and for evil. It’s vital that we have well-trained and upright lawyers seeking justice for all.

What you should know about Virginia Law: UVA’s faculty is filled with stellar professors. They’re tremendously intelligent and devoted to their students. But more importantly, they approach the law from a variety of perspectives. Studying law at a place where multiple perspectives are offered makes you a better thinker and lawyer.