Welcome From Student Bar Association President Tommy Cerja

Tommy Cerja

My name is Tommy Cerja, and I am the president of the Student Bar Association at the University of Virginia School of Law. Allow me to be one of the first to congratulate you on your admission to UVA Law. Your admission is conclusive proof that your credentials, talents and know-how are exceptional, and our community is waiting to welcome you with open arms!

Making the decision on where to attend law school is a daunting task. You may or may not still be refreshing status updates and sifting through various admission packages that will provide you with more than enough branded coffee mugs one person will ever need. Additionally, with each acceptance, you’re tasked with weighing the different professional opportunities, costs of living and tuition that each law school comes with. While I am sure other great law schools are catching your eye, I have no shortage of great things to say about UVA Law. UVA Law is engineered to push growth in you as a student, professional and community member.

UVA Law offers its students a dynamic set of courses that cover foundational aspects of the law and respond to emerging legal issues. Whether you desire to be a corporate litigator, navigate startups through a regulatory web or advocate for your clients as a polished trial lawyer, as a UVA Law graduate your education will be well-rounded and prepare you for a vast and complex legal industry. You will graduate equipped with the tools necessary to tackle sophisticated legal issues and leave empowered to bring about change in the world.

Among its cutting-edge courses, UVA Law offers over 20 clinics to their students that allow them to represent real clients and benefit from engaging in substantive legal work. Beginning in their 1L year, many UVA Law students, as a supplement to their coursework, volunteer to take on projects offered by the Pro Bono Program, which identifies current unmet legal needs and coordinates students with nonprofit organizations, legal services organizations and faculty to develop a wide range of volunteer opportunities. All of this is to say that many students at UVA Law subscribe to the belief that learning is not limited to the walls of our classrooms and recognize that these additional learning opportunities allow you to begin developing your professional brand.

Apart from the incredible academic opportunities UVA Law offers, the strength of our community is our greatest asset. You will quickly come to learn there are myriad ways to become involved on Grounds. UVA Law is home to more than 70 active student organizations that allow students to fulfill much-needed cultural connections, explore career opportunities and share fellowship with classmates with diverse worldviews. On top of the access to numerous student organizations, every 1L is assigned an upperclassman mentor, called a Peer Advisor; has the opportunity to get coffee in a small group with their doctrinal professors; and connect in other ways outside of class. When your workload becomes arduous, this community will be your lifeline. Your peers, mentors and professors have been in your shoes and will absolutely be there to help support you across the finish line. By the end of your time at UVA Law, you will be eager to pour back into the community as much as it poured into you.

While there are few promises I can make, one of them is that wherever you decide to attend law school, you will read and write plenty. I was both proud of myself — and a little disturbed — when I finished my first highlighter in the fall of my 1L year. Given the rigor and demands of law school, finding time to recharge is necessary to avoid burnout. UVA Law is second to none when it comes to the number of ways to rest and unwind. Between acting in our longstanding musical comedy Libel Show; becoming an all-star for your 1L softball team; playing on the law school’s rec soccer team, Barristers United; exploring the beautiful Shenandoah trails; or enjoying the best food Charlottesville has to offer, there are many ways to maintain balance and enjoy your time as a law student. It’s these moments you will look back on fondly, because that’s when you develop the inside jokes, friendships and experiences that’ll leave an impression for years to come.

Congratulations, again. All of us here at UVA Law hope to see you in the Class of 2027. If you have any questions about what life is like here, please do not hesitate to reach out to current students or Admissions!


Tommy Cerja ’24
Student Bar Association President