4 in the Class of 2005

Posted June 16, 2005

This year's graduation award honored a number of outstanding law students—including Carrie Faye Apfel, Scott Cullen, Sy Damle, and Micah Schwartzman.

James C. Slaughter Honor Award

Hometown: River Vale, N.J.

Education: B.A. from Duke in Development Planning and Social Change (a self-designed major)

Why you wanted to be a lawyer: Well, the honest truth is that for most of my life, I absolutely did NOT want to become a lawyer. It was pretty much at the bottom of my "what I want to be when I grow up" list, just a notch above working in corporate America. I didn't realize that a legal career was exactly what I wanted until I was actually out working in public interest, on both policy issues and in direct service, working to bring justice to those without sufficient power in the legal system. Suddenly, it occurred to me that a law degree would help equip me with the tools I needed to more effectively work for change on the issues that I was most passionate about.

Favorite law school experience: There have certainly been a multitude of "favorite" moments here at U.Va., but if forced to choose just one, I would say it was my experience as co-chair of the 2004 Conference on Public Service and the Law. In that capacity, I was able to play a significant role in raising awareness among the hundreds of law students that attended of pressing issues in public interest law. In addition, we were able to bring Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer in as our keynote speaker, which I found to be both exciting and inspiring. I also got to meet a lot of other law students similarly committed to public interest law. And most importantly, it was a lot of fun to see it all come together after almost a year of planning and organizing the event.

Scholarly interests/specialties: My interests are definitely in the civil rights and civil liberties areas of the law, and I have tried to take just about every class that addresses these issues in an attempt to specialize in social justice lawyering.

Favorite class: Wow, this is a hard question—I have been so fortunate to have taken so many interesting and inspiring classes that it is quite difficult to choose amongst them! If push came to shove, though, I think Civil Rights Litigation would eke out a victory, as it was both interesting and inspiring, and certainly solidified my desire to go into civil rights law.

Best learning experience? This is a tough question. I have learned so much during my time here, especially through the interconnectedness of my courses, that it is difficult to pinpoint just one experience. 

Activities at the Law School: My time at the Law School was primarily divided between the Law Review and my public interest law endeavors. I served as the managing editor of the Virginia Law Review, and also served on the Board of the Public Interest Law Association for my second and third years. In addition, as mentioned, I was co-chair of the 2004 Conference on Public Service and the Law, and was a panel coordinator for the conference my first year, as well.

Future plans: Clerk, Judge Diana Gribbon Motz, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

Best summer experience: I had two fantastic summer experiences that reflected my passions for policy work and direct civil rights litigation. My first summer, I was fortunate to have worked at People for the American Way in D.C., where I focused on the 2002-03 Supreme Court term and analyzed the civil rights and civil liberties decisions that had come out. And then to compliment that, my second summer, I got to spend half of my summer working at a civil rights litigation group in Washington, D.C. (the Washington Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs), where I worked on a national origin discrimination case, and actually had the opportunity to use my Spanish for the first time in my working career. Both were really great experiences and solidified my career goal of working in civil rights law.

What you wish you could do over: If I had the opportunity to go back in time, I think I would want to do a direct service pro bono project starting my first year and lasting throughout my time here. I did miss direct interaction.

Favorite spot on Grounds: I love spending time in Scott Commons and chatting with friends as we come and go from class.

Favorite spot off Grounds? I think my favorite C'ville spot off of Law School Grounds is C'Ville Coffee, where I spent a significant amount of time during my time here. But outside of C'ville proper, I absolutely love Shenandoah National Park—so many great hikes so close by!

I knew I wanted to go to Virginia when: When I first visited U.Va. and met some of the students and faculty members here, I knew this was the place for me. The Law School has a uniquely friendly and energetic culture which truly sets it apart from all of the other places I had visited, and people really seemed to enjoy their time here.  Not only did this leave an indelible impression on me, but it convinced me that this was the school for me.

Advice for entering students: I would just say enjoy your time here. Take advantage of the incredible faculty and really explore your interests without worrying about what others are doing.  You've got three short years (that go by so quickly!) to really soak it all up.  It is more than a means to an ends here—it is an amazing journey that you should enjoy to its fullest!

Thomas Marshall Miller Prize

Hometown: West Hartford, CT.

Education: University of Notre Dame, B.A. in History and Philosophy, 1999.

Why you wanted to be a lawyer: Initially I didn't. My mentor in my first job after college was a lawyer who still believed in lawyers doing good things in the world and urged me to consider law school. I woke up in a moment of clarity one day and decided to register for the LSAT. I'm not sure I've had another moment of clarity in the subsequent three and a half years, but I've loved every minute of it.

Favorite law school experience: Tough question, but I have four candidates:

Scholarly interests/specialties: Constitutional law and legal history.

Favorite class: Too hard to pick one, but among the ones that left me scratching my head for a long time afterwards (in a good way) were Constitutional History II with Prof. Klarman, Local Government Law with Prof. Schragger, Speech and Press with Prof. BeVier and American Legal History with Prof. Cushman.

Best learning experience? Taking Constitutional History II the same semester as Prof. Klarman published "From Jim Crow to Civil Rights," and confronting the implications of both in the same semester as Brown v. Board of Educationturned 50. It was sort of a perfect storm, and it left us with a lot to think about regarding the role that courts play in the life of the nation.

Activities at the Law School: Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Law & Politics; Center for the Study of Race and Law; American Constitution Society; Libel Show; chair of the Class of 2005 Graduation Pledge Drive (because when Steve Kaplan asks you for a favor, it's hard to say no).

Future plans: Associate, Kirkland & Ellis, LLP in Washington, D.C.

Best summer experience: My first summer at Kirkland, they brought us up to the Supreme Court to attend the announcement of opinions. It happened to be the day that Grutter v. Bollingerwas handed down. I had just finished my first year of law school and the entire spring, the affirmative action case was thetopic people were discussing. There were news trucks and protesters outside the court building and the tension inside the court room was palpable. To be there was an experience I'll never forget.

What you wish you could do over: Oh . . . I've had an exam or two I'd like to have another crack at.

Favorite spot on Grounds: Sweet, sweet Greenberrys. I also like the fact that they put the Bobby Kennedy memorial in the library. It's a nice little pick-me-up when you've just spent a few hours studying something . . . slightly less inspirational than Bobby Kennedy.

Favorite spot off Grounds?For food, Continental Divide. Otherwise, 91.9 WNRN. Not a place to hang out, but a place that more or less provided a soundtrack for my three years here in the `Ville. If you're still reading this, you should click here and support community radio. I highly recommend the Grateful Dead show on Saturday mornings.

I knew I wanted to go to Virginia when: They took a chance and let me in.

Advice for entering students: Four things:

  1. Your time here will likely offer you several second chances. Take them for all they're worth.
  2. Get to know the staff while you're here and make sure to thank them. They do many things to take good care of you.
  3. The animal crackers in the red bags are immeasurably superior to the animal crackers in the blue bags.
  4. Try to leave the place in a better state than you found it and remember to turn out the lights when you leave.

Margaret G. Hyde Award

Hometown: Denver, Colorado

Education: B.A., University of Virginia; D.Phil, University of Oxford

Why you wanted to be a lawyer: There were lots of reasons. But if I had to point to one, I think it would be that Rosenberger v. Virginia was decided when I was an undergraduate at U.Va. That case left a big impression on me. I thought it was wrongly decided and that it eroded the separation of church and state. That is something I cared a lot about (and still do), so it was strong motivation to learn more about the law. More generally, I think it's important to reason critically and carefully about the principles and rules by which we are governed. You don't have to be a lawyer to do that, but I think it helps.

Favorite law school experience: I spent the summer after first year researching with professors A.E. Dick Howard and Vincent Blasi. For three months, I read the letters and papers of Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and James Madison. It was a second liberal arts education and probably the happiest three months of my law school experience.

Scholarly interests/specialties: I enjoy working on public law issues: federal courts, civil procedure, civil rights, and First Amendment. I have strong interests in judicial process, jurisprudence, and professional ethics. But I have also have a soft spot for torts (see below).

Favorite class: Tort Theory. Professor Blasi and Professor Abraham are a great team. They teach the course on the seminar format invented by Professor Blasi—if you're unfamiliar with how it works, ask him about it. I took four courses on that format in law school. One was taught by John F. Manning (now at Harvard), the others with Professor Blasi. All were excellent, but tort theory was the best. After taking mostly public law courses in my second and third year, I wanted to return to private law but at a more theoretical level. This course did that and more. (I'd recommend taking it with Professor Abraham's course on Insurance, which is the perfect storm of private law: torts, contracts, corporations, tax—it's all there.)

Best learning experience: Studying for exams with Charles Fischette and Dan Bress. They taught me much of what I know about the law.

Activities at the Law School: Articles Development Editor, Virginia Law Review; Vice President for Speakers, Student Legal Forum; and Vice President, Raven Society.

Future plans: I will be clerking for Judge Paul V. Niemeyer, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in Baltimore, Maryland.

Best summer experience: I worked for the appellate group at Latham & Watkins in Washington, D.C. They gave me great work and taught me an enormous amount about practicing law. I probably learned as much that summer as I did in my classes the year before—which isn't at all to disparage my classes. It's just that working on cases, and under some terrific lawyers, is an education unto itself.

What you wish you could do over: I wish I'd started writing my note during the first semester of my second year. And taking 18 credits last semester probably wasn't such a good idea.

Favorite spot on Grounds: Edgar Allen Poe Room, at 13 West Range

Favorite spot off Grounds? Bellair Market—and the Wine Warehouse.

I knew I wanted to go to Virginia when: I visited the Law School in April of 2003. Charlottesville is beautiful in the springtime, and I remember thinking, "I could freeze through law school up north, or I could spend my next three years in Virginia." Easy choice.

Advice for entering students: Get to know the faculty. Your law school career will be improved many times over if you take the time to talk with your professors. My only other advice is for people who are inclined to focus heavily on either public or private law. Take classes in other areas. The ideas you learn in them will be valuable in understanding the subjects that most interest you—whatever those happen to be. 

Z Society Shannon Award

Hometown: This is probably the most difficult question for me to answer, since I've lived in all of the following: Toronto, Ontario; Edmonton, Alberta; Phoenix, Arizona; Scottsdale, Arizona; Irvine, California; and Seoul, South Korea. My parents live in Sugar Land, Texas right now.

Education: University of Pennsylvania.

Why you wanted to be a lawyer: I graduated from college in 1999 with degrees in engineering and business. As many might recall, this was a very good time to be technologically proficient. So I became a computer programmer, with grand dreams of coming up with the one "Great Internet Idea" that would set the world on fire and make everyone millions. I never really could come up with that great idea, or, more importantly, a catchy dot-com brand name (SteamedFishByMail.com having already been taken). By 2001, it became clear that it was time to consider other opportunities.  Luckily, I was living in D.C. at the time, and met a lot of lawyers doing fascinating work. Talking with them got me interested in pursuing a career in law. So sadly I've had to hang up my dreams of Internet grandeur but overall I'm rather happy with the decision.

Favorite Law School experience: I've had many since then, but the first day of Professor Scott's Contracts class stands out. I was feeling rather discouraged after doing the reading and understanding perhaps 10 percent of what was going on. I walked into that class pretty sure that I had made a horrible mistake by coming to law school (I'm not even kidding—I had made myself intimately familiar with the U.Va. tuition refund policy). But, at the end of that first class, during which Professor Scott elaborately mimed leading Bascom's Folly out of his horse carrier, I realized that I understood what the heck a quasi-contract was, and that I was exactly where I should be.

Scholarly interests/specialties: My major interests in law school were international law (both public and private) and comparative law, with a healthy dose of federal courts and constitutional history.

Favorite class: I'll abstain from picking just one—a few highlights include Federal Courts with Professor Nelson, Constitutional Law and Constitutional History with Professor Klarman, and International Business Transactions with Professor Stephan. I took two team-taught seminars, which were just fantastic: International Law and the Scholarly Process with professors Bradley and Stephan, and Supreme Court: October 2003 Term with professors Harrison and Magill. Team-taught seminars are great—two brains for the price of one.

Best learning experience? I learned a lot from my professors, but I think I learned even more from my fellow students. One example out of many: I had written an 80-plus page paper for the International Law and the Scholarly Process seminar. This was the first real research paper I had ever written, and I worked extremely hard on it, revising and re-revising my argument until I thought I had it just right.  I presented it to my fellow seminar students, and they proceeded to expose every flaw. By doing so, they pushed me to think about my arguments at a deeper level.

Activities at the Law School: My most rewarding activity was as VP for Academic and Career Affairs for APALSA. This position that allowed me to mentor incoming students and watch as they achieved great success by ignoring my advice. I was also Articles Editor for the Virginia Law Review, a position that required much work but from which I reaped many rewards.

Future plans: Law clerk, Judge Sandra L. Lynch, U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, Boston, MA. Then I'll try this whole "practicing law" thing. Apparently many people from our school have tried it and found it rewarding. At some point down the line, I'd love to jump into the teaching market. I always thought law professors had a pretty sweet gig. 

Best summer experience: Last summer I was sent to New Delhi to work one of the largest IPOs in the history of the Indian capital markets. The experience was amazing; I felt as if I was witnessing the very beginnings of the growth of a global economic power.

What you wish you could do over: Float the James River on an inner tube with all my friends.

Favorite spot on Grounds: The Law School courtyard, on a sunny day. Nothing made me realize how lucky I was to be at U.Va. more than basking in the sun between classes.

Favorite spot off Grounds? The Downtown Mall, wasting an afternoon watching people go by. I knew I wanted to go to Virginia when:I visited for Admitted Students Weekend. It was a beautiful Charlottesville spring weekend, and Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson told the assembled students: "If you have to spend three years in law school, why not spend them in a place like this?" I was sold.

Advice for entering students: Work really hard, sure, but don't do it to at the expense of your own happiness. Make as many friends as you can. Learn a new sport. And for Pete's sake, sit out and enjoy that beautiful weather. You'll miss it when you're gone.

Full list of graduation award winners


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