Meet the Graduates
Meet the Graduates
Members of the Class of 2022 talk about their experiences at Virginia Law
Donna Faye Imadi '22
Hometown: Alexandria, Virginia
Who I was then: An inspired student at George Mason University studying global affairs and international conflict analysis and resolution. I sought to travel the world, and made it to Switzerland and Ukraine studying abroad, seeking out a life path that would enable me to bring greater justice and peace to regions enthralled in conflict. I interned at the State Department, on the Hill, and was the kind of person who was fiercely dedicated to causes outside myself (like running UNICEF at Mason and founding my nonprofit InvestinYOUth mentorship program). Outside of that, I fell in love with running after learning how to pick up a lacrosse stick (on midfield!), nature, and exploring new cities and towns by way of coffee shops, and had dreams in my heart far larger than met the eye.
Amazing law school class: Legislation with Professor Caleb Nelson was absolutely life-view altering. Learning the various approaches judges take to interpret laws and decipher meaning from common words was absolutely fascinating. The canons of construction like “expressio unius” has a ring to it, too, right?
I have never read a case the same way after taking that class. You realize that a comma could make or break an interpretation of an entire legal doctrine. And moreover, appreciate that there truly are valid ways to interpret a singular term or concept in a multitude of ways.
Outside class: I clerked downtown at the Charlottesville Circuit Court for two years with Judge Richard E. Moore. I also served as vice president for Virginia Law Women, social chair for the J.B. Moore Society of International Law and reported on many Law School events as the international affairs/antitrust reporter with the Virginia Law Weekly. As a Salzburg Cutler Fellow, I researched international legal issues, inspired by experiences while serving as a research assistant for Professor Dick Howard and Professor Camilo Sánchez. In more recent memory, I closed out 3L spring at UVA making it to the finals with the Virginia Law Veterans’ softball team and enjoyed pickup scrimmages with the soon-to-be vibrant pickup lacrosse team. Even amid a pandemic, there were so many exciting chances to get involved in Charlottesville. It’s been a blast!
Favorite outing/activity to unwind: Jogging to the Rotunda or laying out on “the Lawn” and people-watching was a joyful getaway right down the street from North Grounds. The enormity of the charge of being a law student came together sitting on those iconic steps of the Rotunda. It never failed to put things into perspective. At the same time, watching the undergrads or other folks enjoying a pleasant sun-shower and being happy — with the token guitar player who frequently serenades the masses on his stool under a Lawn tree — offered an escape close to home. It’s a memory and place I’ll always cherish!
Noteworthy summer job: Working at the Federal Trade Commission my 1L summer on the Tech Enforcement Division was transformative. Getting a taste of what a monopolization investigation entails in a time when antitrust is the hottest it’s been since the ’90s was a true treasure for my intellectual growth. I was exposed to the antitrust investigation into Facebook, which has been formative in my understanding of the law and my career path subsequently.
What’s next: I’ll join Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s Antitrust Competition and Trade team in their Washington, D.C., office as an associate.
Who I am now: I am humbled that my community sees me as the kind of person deserving of the Ritter Award for honor, character and integrity during my time at UVA Law. That reflects that today, like when I was younger, I still make it my mission to make each person’s life a bit less heavy, learn as much as I can, and discover/satiate my curiosity for this amazing world we live in through taking on projects that are meaningful to me. I care deeply for others, and I am someone who is deeply in love with the calling in my life to be creative and effectuate change through the law.
I’ve explored new intellectual horizons at UVA. I‘ve become an antitrust enthusiast here, reshaping the course of my future. I’ve also observed the power of the law while working downtown at the courthouse in Charlottesville, seeing how we as lawyers will shape others’ future paths. All thanks to the UVA Law community, I’ve been uplifted to be the best version of myself as I bid Charlottesville farewell and head back north.
What you should know about Virginia Law: Virginia Law is one of the most unique educational institutions in this entire country — not only because the quality of the education itself is unmatched, but because the people here are sincerely and genuinely special. This community is one of the most uplifting, supportive, caring and dedicated that I have ever had the honor to be a part of. People here are “a big deal” but they never make others feel small. Rather, they make you grow into the person you are destined and always have longed to become. This place is a rarity, and the best place to not only find yourself, but create who you want to be.
Emily Hockett '22
Hometown: San Francisco
Who I was then: I graduated from New York University in 2018. I interned at a law and policy nonprofit for a couple of years during college and worked on a campaign and for a judge before coming to law school.
Amazing law school class: I can’t pick just one! I took Professor Payvand Ahdout’s Separation of Powers in the Federal Courts seminar with five other students — we had fascinating, lively discussions each week and I learned a ton. I also loved John Duffy’s Administrative Law, Ashley Deeks ’ National Security Law, and Leslie Kendrick’s free speech course.
Outside class: I was a Legal Research and Writing fellow for Professor Sarah Ware’s class, vice president of the Lambda Law Alliance, and a research assistant for Professors Danielle Citron and Payvand Ahdout. I was also involved in the National Lawyers Guild chapter, where I met community members agitating for progressive change in central Virginia. I made great friends and mentors through each of these experiences who grounded me and taught me a lot.
Favorite outing/activity to unwind: I love dining out, and after three years, I have a few favorite spots in Charlottesville. I love Belle for breakfast and lunch, Continental Divide for decent Mexican and delicious margaritas and Pearl Island for consistently excellent Caribbean food.
Noteworthy summer job: I loved both my summer jobs! After 1L, I worked at the ACLU National Security Project and after 2L at the Knight First Amendment Institute.
What’s next: I will be a Technology and Press Freedom Fellow at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press in D.C.! I got the chance to work with some of the folks at the Reporters Committee as a student in the First Amendment Clinic, and I’m thrilled I’ll get to work there full-time.
Who I am now: Law school has made me a more confident advocate and a more creative thinker. It has sharpened my convictions. And it has taught me that working with others is always better than going it alone.
What you should know about Virginia Law: Law school can be rigorous and very challenging, but at UVA Law students achieve a unique balance: we learn a lot and get a great education, but we also care deeply about each other. At our best, we lift each other up, brighten each other’s days and show up when it matters. I’m grateful to be a part of it.
Edric Kim '22
Hometown: Los Angeles
Who I was then: I graduated from UCLA in 2016 with a degree in anthropology. I spent the next three years learning about startups and working as a legal assistant.
Amazing law school class: There were so many amazing classes that I took at UVA, but my focus when choosing classes were the ones that dealt with the intersection of law and business. I really enjoyed the classes that focused on the economic side of the law, such as Accounting and Business Planning with Professor Harry Franks, Corporate Finance with Professor Richard Hynes, and Legal Issues in Corporate Finance with Professor George Geis. This is not necessarily a business law class, but I would also add in Antitrust with Professor Joshua Fischman. His explanations on the evolution of antitrust law in relation to the history of American economics were extremely insightful.
Outside class: Outside of class, I was a part of the Innocence Project pro bono clinic during my first year, on the executive board of the Asian Pacific American Law Students Association and a member of Rivanna Investments and other clubs on campus. I was also an editor for the Virginia Sports & Entertainment Law Journal. In my third year, I participated in the study abroad program at the Instituto de Empresa in Madrid.
Favorite outing/activity to unwind: I was a fan of exploring many of the smaller food places in Charlottesville, which has a surprisingly diverse food scene. If anyone wants tips regarding great taco trucks or Southern barbecue, reach out to me! In my free time I could be found exercising at North Grounds Rec Center or training martial arts at Gracie Charlottesville.
Noteworthy summer job: During my 1L summer, I was a research assistant for Professor Julia Mahoney, where I focused on learning more about nonprofit organizations and mergers and acquisitions. Although COVID made it difficult for my schedule, Professor Mahoney was very accommodating with my time.
What’s next: I will be joining Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman’s Silicon Valley office in their tech transactions group working with emerging companies, capital markets, and M&A.
Who I am now: Every lawyer I spoke to before going to law school told me the same thing — that law school may not teach you the law but it teaches you how to think like a lawyer. UVA taught me both and more through its quality mentorship and peers, and I will always be grateful for the lessons that I have learned in my time here.
What you should know about Virginia Law: Law school is inherently difficult, but if there is one thing that can make it easier, it’s having a supportive community around you. UVA is exactly that, and these three years were some of the hardest yet most rewarding years of my life.
Cait Kutchi '22
Who I was then: I graduated from the University of Kentucky in 2014. I went on to serve as a paralegal in the FBI for four years, adjudicating Freedom of Information Act requests and assisting in litigation. While there, some awesome attorney mentors set me on the path to law school. I also married my lovely spouse, Justin, only a few months before starting at UVA Law. Justin is an active-duty officer in the U.S. Army.
Amazing law school class: I enjoyed Foreign Relations Law with Professor Kristen Eichensehr, Freedom of Speech with Professor Leslie Kendrick and International Law/Use of Force with Professor Ashley Deeks. I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention my Seminar in Ethical Values with Professors Cathy Hwang and Michael Livermore — we discussed the role of law in the TV show “Battlestar Galactica.”
Outside class: I was co-president of the Program in Law in Public Service. I served on the editorial board of the Virginia Law Review and as a Legal Writing Fellow. I also helped found the National Security Law Forum during my 2L year. I was a member of the Public Interest Law Association, a Law School Ambassador and a Community Fellow.
Favorite outing/activity to unwind: I like to head out to Crozet on the weekends for tea at Mudhouse or a beer at Starr Hill. I love happy hour with friends at Public Fish & Oyster. I am also known to slip away to the Violet Crown theater on the Downtown Mall to see a movie (usually when I should be studying).
Noteworthy summer job: I spent my 2L summer with the Army JAG Corps. More specifically, I worked with U.S. Army Cadet Command at Fort Knox. I rotated through three different practice areas — legal assistance, administrative law and criminal law. I was astounded at the range of issues the judge advocates encountered each day. Outside of the office, I joined a combat engineering unit for a bridging exercise on the Ohio River. I walked away from the internship with kind, thoughtful mentors. I really look up to the folks I met at Cadet Command — they care deeply about the mission of the Army. And despite their busy schedules, they created tons of opportunities for me to learn.
What’s next: I plan to serve in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps. I hope to be stationed at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs.
Who I am now: I like to think I am a better listener and a more measured thinker. In law school and in life it is easy to take a position or pick a side and then sort the details out later. It is not so easy to explain to others why you feel the way you feel. My time here has taught me that it is okay to take a step back — to listen and engage with ideas before taking a position. Providing a thoughtful, concise response shows that you care. I hope I can take these skills with me and use them as an advocate, a friend and a partner.
What you should know about Virginia Law: You will find some of your dearest and most treasured friends at this place. My friends here celebrated my successes, big and small. But they also lifted me up when I felt defeated or during long periods of separation from my spouse. I am walking away with lots of new additions to my personal cheering squad — what an amazing feeling!
Andi Schlut '22
Hometown: Denver (I’m a seventh-generation Colorado native!)
Who I was then: I graduated from the University of Denver, summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, with a bachelor’s degree in political science and socio-legal studies, where I wrote an honors thesis about moral psychology as applied to politics — which seems more relevant now than ever. I was also president of a treble voices a cappella group and regularly sang the National Anthem at DU sporting events. And I spent the weekends passionately cheering for whichever Denver sports team was in season.
Amazing law school class: The classes and professors at UVA Law are so fabulous that I don’t think I can choose just one, but I’ll do my best. I am constantly telling anyone who will listen that Professor George Geis is my favorite professor I’ve ever had, so both Contracts and Corporations with him were among my favorite classes. Both of my January term classes, Baseball with Professor John Setear and Title IX: The Law and Policy of Sex Discrimination with Professor Kimberly Robinson and Professor Amanda Dallo, were fascinating and fun. And I really enjoyed Trusts and Estates with Professor Naomi Cahn. But I think Antitrust with Professor Joshua Fischman was my absolute favorite class I took in law school — it was challenging, rewarding and so interesting, and I hope that my legal practice includes a bit of antitrust work down the line.
Outside class: My goal when I started law school was to get as involved in the UVA Law community as I possibly could, and I think I succeeded! I had the privilege of serving as a director of the Libel Show during my third year and a vocal director of the show as a 2L. I also was editor-in-chief of the Virginia Sports & Entertainment Law Journal, development editor for the Journal of Law & Politics, president of Virginia Law First-Generation Professionals, UVA’s American Bar Association representative, a Peer Advisor and a Legal Writing Fellow. I participated in the Lile Moot Court Competition and proudly served as one of my 1L section’s softball captains.
But more than anything, through all of these experiences, I got to meet so many of my fabulous law school peers! I am incredibly lucky to be able to call so many bright and kind future attorneys my friends and colleagues. My relationships with them away from the classroom are a huge part of what made law school so rewarding and enjoyable.
Favorite outing/activity to unwind: I’m a bit of a homebody, so my absolute favorite thing to do to de-stress is to curl up and binge-watch TV or check out a new movie at home with my husband. But I’m also a big foodie, and the restaurant scene in Charlottesville can’t be beat! We’ll regularly order sushi or tacos from one of the many delicious spots in town and indulge in our favorite foods while watching our favorite things — what more could you want?
Noteworthy summer job: My 1L summer, I interned for the Madison County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office in Madison, Virginia, and had an amazing experience. My supervising attorneys there were so warm and welcoming, and I firmly believe that they helped shape my legal skills more than anyone else has. I got to observe court all the time, visit crime scenes with law enforcement officers and sit in on witness interviews — as far as this first-generation attorney knew, I was doing exactly what every attorney dreams of doing in their careers!
What’s next: Later this year, I will start a judicial clerkship with Judge Sidney Fitzwater on the Northern District of Texas. After that, I’ll join Sidley Austin’s Dallas office in their general commercial litigation group.
Who I am now: I came to UVA Law as a self-professed nerd who thought she’d never be done with school. (I had plans to pursue a Ph.D. in … well, anything so that I could keep being a student.) But law school has turned me into a determined and eager professional, ready to begin life as a “real adult.” I am more confident in my abilities, sure of myself, and prepared to take on anything I might face in life. I am so excited for what the future holds, even though it doesn’t look like it will include more school for the foreseeable future, and I am so grateful to UVA Law for giving me such a bright future to look forward to. My three years here have been challenging and stressful, but that has also made them rewarding, inspiring and truly some of the best years of my life. I am sad to be leaving my classmates, my professors and my beloved pesto caesar salad from Roots, but I am so looking forward to the years to come.
What you should know about Virginia Law: Law school doesn’t have to be awful. It can be satisfying, fun, interesting, exciting and so rewarding. It’s all about the people you get to spend those three years with — and at no law school are the people better than at UVA Law. My 1L section mates are among the kindest and smartest people I have ever met, and they made the otherwise stressful and emotional experience of 1L not only bearable but enjoyable! My professors have taken the time to check in with their students and make sure that they are as happy and healthy as they can be. Mandy in ScoCo [Scott Commons] lifted my spirits every day. UVA Law is the place to be for those people who want to enjoy their three years of law school, which makes it the place for people who want to help others enjoy their three years of law school. It’s a remarkable place to learn and grow as a person, a professional and ultimately as a budding attorney.
Jeffrey Stiles '22
Hometown: New Oxford, Pennsylvania and Arequipa, Peru
Who I was then: After graduating from Messiah University in 2016, I joined the Peace Corps and served as an English literacy volunteer in Samoa. In the time between my Peace Corps service ending and law school starting, I worked at a box factory in New Oxford.
Amazing law school class: I was particularly impressed by professors who delivered exceptional classes even in a hybrid or all-Zoom format. Professor Kristen Eichensehr’s Foreign Relations Law was a master class in delivering her immense knowledge in the field to her students in a way that was understandable, approachable and engaging — all on Zoom! (And I’ve heard the class is just as good in person.)
Outside class: I found many of my greatest joys in law school in my role as a Peer Advisor. My 1L section (shout out to Section F!) offered an incredible community and amazing friends. Getting to participate in fostering the same sense of inclusion and support I felt with my section for others was a deep privilege. When I wasn’t cheering on 1Ls at softball, I was probably playing pickup soccer with Barristers United or giving a tour with the Law Ambassadors program.
Favorite outing/activity to unwind: Playing soccer at The Park, tennis at Snyder or squash at North Grounds with my law school friends were my favorite ways to get some exercise, blow off some steam and spend time with those I care about. The good-natured heckling led to some memorable quotes and life lessons. A personal favorite and reminder to stay humble: “The best defense is their own ego.”
Noteworthy summer job: I worked both of my summers at Cozen O’Connor in Philadelphia. While the work was engaging and I am excited to be returning to the firm, I loved fully committing to exploring Philadelphia and finding ways to have safe fun during the height of the COVID pandemic. I rode my bicycle to dozens of water-ice stands all around the city. Siddiq’s in West Philly is the best if you’re looking for a recommendation. One expedition for water-ice found me riding my bicycle through the ghost-town Center City flanked by a legion of young folks on dirt bikes and four-wheelers who had ventured from the park to the empty roads.
What’s next: I will study for the bar with my grandfather — my ever-faithful law school companion, before returning to Cozen O’Connor in Philadelphia, where I will join the Private Client Services group. In 2024, I will take leave to clerk for Judge Chad Kenney in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
Who I am now: I’m not sure if I “think like a lawyer” now, but I do know that I make sure to use cross-walks in Virginia because of its old-school tort laws. Jokes aside, I hope I still have the curiosity and wonder that I had when I first started learning about the law. More importantly, I hope the joy and fulfilment I feel now translates into a career and life of searching for and creating a community I care about and can pour into.
What you should know about Virginia Law: There’s something special about this place. It may be self-selection or a really good job by Admissions, but the folks around you are brilliant, hard-working, and interesting. For the most part, they are also kind. Lean into this kindness and enjoy your time, remembering all along that you belong here. But along with that, loving this place and these people means it is our duty to hold each other to higher standards, to push one another and this institution to be better versions of ourselves.
Rambert Tyee '22
Who I was then: I graduated from the University of Virginia in 2019 from the McIntire School of Commerce. I didn’t know I would pursue law school until my fourth year as an undergrad, but I loved my home state so much that I matriculated straight to law school. As a first-generation student, I had no idea what it meant to “think like a lawyer” but I was curious to learn as much as I could about how the law works.
Amazing law school class: My favorite classroom experiences at UVA Law have been in short courses. Our short courses offer a change of pace from the traditional semester-long classroom routine and provide a two-week long exploration into nontraditional legal topics. I pursued a variety of these classes including Baseball with Professor John Setear, Startup of a Medtech Company with Professor Weaver Gaines and, most notably, Advancing the Commitment to Public Service Through Law Firm Pro Bono with Professor Tiffany Graves. My experience in Professor Graves’ course significantly shaped my view of law firm pro bono and inspired me to think outside of the box in relation to a commitment to public service! These courses helped diversify my law school education and broaden my perspectives of how to learn the law.
Outside class: My most meaningful extracurricular activity at the law school was my time spent as a Peer Advisor and as one of the co-head Peer Advisors as a 3L. The PA program was a great resource for so many of us as 1Ls and it has been an honor to be able to give back to incoming 1Ls, LL.M.s and transfer students.
Favorite outing/activity to unwind: I love all sports, so my favorite activity to unwind would be some sort of intramural sport with friends from the Law School, Sunday soccer with Barristers or softball all around North Grounds.
Noteworthy summer job: I enjoyed working with the law firm both of my summers during law school, but my most exciting non-law school job was a pro bono internship with the ACLU of Virginia during winter break of 1L.
What’s next: I'll be starting as an associate with McGuireWoods in Richmond, Virginia, this fall.
Who I am now: Law school has broadened my perspective as to how the world works and the structures in our society that make the world go round. The insights I've garnered from my professors, other faculty and peers have taught me more about life than I ever could have expected when I began this journey three years ago. I leave UVA Law inspired by my classmates and energized to use what I've learned towards shaping a better tomorrow.
What you should know about Virginia Law: In my honest opinion, what separates Virginia Law and makes this place special is the people. My classmates have been the most important piece of this entire experience and I have learned more from them than any other entity. They have inspired me, encouraged me and shaped how I see the world on a daily basis, and I am forever grateful to be among their ranks!
Niko Orfanedes '22
Hometown: Greensboro, North Carolina
Who I was then: I graduated in 2018 from the University of South Carolina with a degree in sport and entertainment management. Prior to law school, I worked as a marketing strategist for a golf resort in North Carolina.
Amazing law school class: Emerging Companies and Venture Capital with Professor Mike Lincoln. Professor Lincoln works directly with major startup companies and investors, and each lecture featured a guest presentation from a prominent venture capitalist, entrepreneur, lawyer or other professional in the startup world. Interacting directly with these industry leaders reaffirmed my desire to work in the EGVC space, and I gained invaluable practical knowledge from this class.
Outside class: I was president of the Student Bar Association during the 2021-22 term. I was also on the editorial board of the Virginia Sport & Entertainment Law Journal and co-captain of my softball.
Favorite outing/activity to unwind: Walking around Main Grounds with my girlfriend and our dog, Jefferson.
Noteworthy summer job: During my 1L summer, I clerked for Royer Caramanis, a full-service law firm in Charlottesville. While at the firm, I worked on everything from commercial litigation and real estate transactions to criminal defense matters and family law disputes. The mentorship of the attorneys at the firm helped shape me into the soon-to-be-lawyer I am today.
What’s next: After the bar exam, I will begin working for the New York office of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman as a member of the Emerging Companies & Venture Capital group.
Who I am now: Attending Virginia Law has been a transformative experience in countless ways. For one, I leave Charlottesville a more thoughtful, rational and critical thinker than ever before. More importantly, however, are the relationships and memories I have forged over the last three years that I will cherish forever.
What you should know about Virginia Law: This is a very special place. While the resources, career prospects, prestige and superb faculty are what attracts prospective students to North Grounds, it is the quality of the people at Virginia Law that makes graduation so bittersweet.