Experienced Attorney Joins UVA Law to Help Guide Students Pursuing Public Service Careers
Elizabeth Averill, an attorney with a variety of public service and private-sector legal experience, has joined the University of Virginia School of Law to help counsel students interested in pursuing careers in public service.
Averill has been appointed as one of two directors of public service in the Mortimer Caplin Public Service Center.
"My primary objective is to provide outstanding career counseling to 1Ls, 2Ls, 3Ls and postgraduates who are interested in exploring opportunities in different areas of public service," she said.
Her responsibilities will include reviewing resumes and cover letters, employer outreach, supporting scholarship and fellowship programs, and helping students think through what kind of careers they want to explore during summers and after graduation.
Having worked in both public service and private-sector positions, Averill said she is well-positioned to guide law students considering their career choices.
"I've spent a lot of time over the last 10 years working in very different types of legal jobs and have undertaken job searches when the economy was booming and after the market crashed," she said. "I think that perspective will be useful when I am counseling students and helping them think through their choices."
Annie Kim, assistant dean for public service, said most UVA Law students will not have a career path that looks like a straight line, so Averill's breadth of experience and understanding of what it takes to move from one practice to another will be invaluable.
"Liz also brings a great sense of humor, a keen eye and the gift of putting people at ease, which I think students will appreciate," Kim said. Averill graduated from Yale University in 1998 and earned her law degree from New York University School of Law in 2003. Before law school, she worked for a year as a paralegal at the antitrust division of the U.S. Department of Justice. Following graduation from law school, she joined Latham & Watkins in Washington, D.C., and went on to clerk for Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald in the Southern District of New York.
After her clerkship, Averill joined Covington & Burling in Washington, D.C., working in the litigation and white-collar crime practice groups. She first came to Charlottesville several years ago when her husband, a judge advocate in the U.S. Army, was attending a graduate course at the Judge Advocate General's Legal Center and School, located adjacent to UVA Law. During that time, Averill volunteered with the JustChildren Program of the Legal Aid Justice Center, working on education and juvenile justice cases. The JustChildren Program provides free legal representation to low-income children.
"The Legal Aid Justice Center is an amazing organization with extremely dedicated and talented attorneys," she said. "I learned so much while working with the JustChildren program and really enjoyed having the opportunity to work directly with juvenile clients and their families. I was excited to go to the office every day, and it became clear to me that I found this type of work to be extremely rewarding."
Averill then moved to Tacoma, Wash., after her husband was stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Averill worked as a civilian attorney with the U.S. Army, providing free legal assistance to service members, retired service members, and their families. She helped clients with a broad range of legal issues, including family law matters, estate planning, landlord-tenant disputes, credit reporting issues and consumer protection problems.
"I loved working with such a diverse range of clients and often met with six or seven people per day," she said. "The job was also interesting because I was introduced to new areas of the law and helped people with urgent problems. In many cases, I was able to resolve their issue or give them a better sense of what the next steps should look like. I found legal assistance work to be a great fit."
Now back in Charlottesville, Averill said her career experience gives her a fresh perspective on her new role."I think what's exciting about this job is getting to know students well, sharing my own experiences, and helping students to maximize their chances of securing a good job," she said.
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.