First-Year Law Students Receive UVA Law's Top Scholarships


From left: Reedy Swanson, Sean Johnson and Lea Patterson. The three first-year University of Virginia law students are among the recipients of UVA Law's top scholarships.

August 28, 2013

First-year University of Virginia law students Reedy Swanson, Sean Johnson and Lea Patterson are among the recipients of the Law School's most prestigious scholarships.

Swanson was named this year's Jefferson Law Fellow. Jefferson Fellowships are awarded University-wide in recognition of leadership, scholarship and citizenship.

Johnson and Patterson were among the recipients of the Hardy Cross Dillard scholarships, which are named in honor of the Law School's fourth dean, a 1927 graduate and former judge of the International Court of Justice.

Both the Jefferson Law Fellowship and Dillard scholarships provide full tuition to recipients. There are 11 Dillard scholars in the Class of 2016.

Reedy Swanson

Hometown: Knoxville, Tenn.

Education: B.A. in government and foreign affairs from UVA

Notable Work Experience: After finishing my undergrad at UVA, I worked for a year as a junior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a foreign policy think tank in Washington, D.C. My work there focused on corruption and good governance, with an emphasis on the South Asia region.

Why law? I appreciate that a legal education gives me a chance to marry intellectual challenge with a practical (and hopefully positive) impact on the world around me.

Why Virginia Law? Virginia struck me as almost uniquely a place that combined the rigors of a first-rate legal education with a warm, welcoming community that truly celebrates the power of collaboration both with other students and with faculty.

What would you like to do with your law degree? Coming off my year at Carnegie in Washington, I'm certainly interested in exploring the possibility of working internationally, particularly in countries with developing political and legal systems. That said, I've seen enough people go through law school and come out on a completely different trajectory that I'm trying to keep an open mind about my options.

Sean Johnson

Hometown: Jacksonville, Fla.

Education: B.A. in history and B.S.B.A in management from the University of Florida

Notable work experience: While an undergrad, I was fortunate enough to travel to London and intern for Siobhain McDonagh, a member of Parliament, and helped plan fundraisers for the 2010 elections. Immediately after graduation, I started my two-year commitment with Teach For America, teaching middle school math in Miami. During my two years teaching, I also spent the summers working as a summer mentor teacher for first-year corps members at Democracy Prep in Harlem.

Why law? My 10th-grade history teacher was also a former judge, and his insights into the world left me fascinated with both the law and its role in shaping our society. He gave me a passion for understanding the intricacies of what we call justice and my experiences afterward made me see just how often the law can adversely affect those who may need its protection the most. From interning with my MP to teaching, I have seen the prevalence of the inaccessibility of our legal system and I want to become an advocate for those who cannot speak for themselves.

Why Virginia Law? Every person that has ever gone to UVA Law or knew a graduate has had nothing but amazing things to say about the school and the difference in the culture here compared to other schools. After visiting once and getting to know a few students, it was clear that all the rumors were more than true, and I knew it was a place I wanted to call home. Plus, it's hard to visit and not immediately fall in love with such a gorgeous campus.

What would you like to do with your law degree? Because I enjoy the study and history of our law, I would love the opportunity to be a law clerk after graduation.

Lea Patterson

Hometown: Arlington, Texas

Education: B.S. in political science from Texas Christian University

Notable work experience: Notable work experience for me would include interning for Judge [Brent] Carr in Tarrant County Criminal Court Nine (Fort Worth, Texas) in 2012 and for the Fort Worth Office of Congresswoman Kay Granger in 2011.

Why law? During the two years I competed in TCU's undergraduate moot court program, I discovered that constitutional law is the best opportunity for me to have a career that is fulfilling and about which I am passionate. There is nothing I would rather do than defend the fundamental individual rights and freedoms that make our country so unique and wonderful.

Why Virginia Law? I loved the atmosphere at UVA Law. Everyone was so kind and seemed to genuinely care about me as an individual. I could not help but want to come to a place where I could be comfortable being myself.

What would you like to do with your law degree? I would like to pursue a career in constitutional law with a focus on the First and Second Amendments.


Founded in 1819, the University of Virginia School of Law is the second-oldest continuously operating law school in the nation. Consistently ranked among the top law schools, Virginia is a world-renowned training ground for distinguished lawyers and public servants, instilling in them a commitment to leadership, integrity and community service.

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