From appearances at the Supreme Court to faculty working for the greater good, we look back at the most important moments of the year at the University of Virginia School of Law.
A Major Gift and the Launch of the Karsh Center
Martha ’81 and Bruce Karsh ’80 announced in May that they will donate $44 million to the Law School, the largest gift in the Law School’s history. The gift will fund the renamed Karsh-Dillard Scholarships; establish the Karsh Center for Law and Democracy; and create an endowed professorships fund. The gift, which kicks off the Law School’s bicentennial celebration, includes $18.9 million in matching funds from the University’s Board of Visitors, which will be given in the Karshes’ name.
The center launched officially in November with an interview between retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy and financier-philanthropist David Rubenstein.
Atop the Rankings
The U.S. Supreme Court cited professors at UVA Law more than any other school’s faculty in the past two terms, with 13 citations. Professor Caleb Nelson led all authors with six citations, while Professor Saikrishna Prakash was cited four times.
Once again, a record number of alumni are clerking for federal appeals court judges. Among the 85 alumni serving in clerkships during the 2018 term, a previously unsurpassed 38 are working for federal appellate courts. The Law School is No. 5 in federal judicial clerkship placement for the classes of 2013-17, according to American Bar Association data.
The Law School continues to rank No. 1 in Best Quality of Life and Best Professors in The Princeton Review’s annual law school rankings. The Law School is also No. 2 in Best Classroom Experience, No. 4 in Best Career Prospects and No. 6 in Toughest To Get Into.
According to data posted by the American Bar Association this year, the Class of 2017 ranked No. 3 in the percentage of graduates who took jobs at law firms of 100 or more attorneys. The school was also No. 4 in the percentage of 2017 alumni hired by the 100 largest firms, according to the National Law Journal, and No. 5 in the number of associates promoted to partner in those firms.
For a record 13th year in a row, more than half of alumni made a gift to the Law School. A total of 8,926 alumni gave.
UVA Law at the Supreme Court
UVA Law was No. 2 in the number of lawyers from an organization arguing before the U.S. Supreme Court for the 2017 term, after the U.S. Solicitor General’s Office, and No. 6 in the number of cases argued. Professors Aditya Bamzai, Toby Heytens ’00 and Daniel Ortiz argued at the court.
U.S. Supreme Court justices cited Bamzai by name 31 times in Ortiz v. U.S., a case that tackled the scope of the Supreme Court’s original and appellate jurisdiction under Article III. Bamzai argued in January as an unprecedented independent amicus. Though the court ultimately rejected his argument, Justice Elena Kagan, writing for a 7-2 majority, devoted 15 pages of her 25-page opinion to Bamzai’s contention that the Supreme Court lacked jurisdiction to hear the case.
The Supreme Court Litigation Clinic was involved in three cases argued or decided in 2018: City of Hays v. Vogt, argued by Heytens in February; Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis, decided in May and originally argued by Ortiz; and Culbertson v. Berryhill, argued by Ortiz in November.
Two alumnae, Megan Lacy ’10 and Katie Barber ’15, are clerking for the U.S. Supreme Court this term.
Another justice visited UVA Law in March. Justice Stephen G. Breyer told students that the world is changing, and that the U.S. judiciary can’t afford to keep its head in the sand of its own shores. Breyer’s comments were largely based on his book “The Court and the World: American Law and the New Global Realities.”
Alumni Take on Leadership Roles
James E. Ryan ’92 was inaugurated as the University of Virginia’s ninth president during an installment ceremony on Oct. 19. In his address, he laid out several highlights in his vision for UVA’s future, from growing “a faculty as diverse as it is outstanding,” to using interdisciplinary research to tackle the world’s most pressing challenging and preparing students for a life of purpose and service. Ryan’s impact quickly extended to stardom on social media, as he invited students, alumni and community members to join him on morning runs.
It was a true joy getting to see everyone, and I really can't imagine a better start to the day. Same time, same place next week. All are welcome! pic.twitter.com/I9wLCuROAX
— Jim Ryan (@presjimryan) October 2, 2018
In the past year, Ryan named Law School professor and former Dean John C. Jeffries Jr. ’73 as senior vice president for advancement and Stanford Law School Dean M. Elizabeth “Liz” Magill ’95 as executive vice president and provost. Additionally, former U.S. Attorney Tim Heaphy ’91 was appointed as University counsel.
In November, Angela Ciolfi ’03 was named the next executive director of the Legal Aid Justice Center, a nonprofit that often partners with UVA Law on clinics and pro bono efforts.
Faculty Stars’ Rising …
Dean Risa Goluboff was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the first woman on the UVA Law faculty and eighth overall elected to the academy.
Professor Ruth Mason was named International Bureau of Fiscal Documentation professor in residence, which lasted the summer, becoming the first woman and youngest scholar to hold the professorship.
Professor Deborah Hellman was named the 2019 Fred Berger Memorial Prize winner by the American Philosophical Association for her article, “A Theory of Bribery.”
Professor Cynthia Nicoletti became the first UVA Law faculty member to win the Cromwell Book Prize, for her work “Secession on Trial: The Treason Prosecution of Jefferson Davis.”
Professor Maureen “Molly” Brady was named co-winner of the 2019 Scholarly Papers Competition sponsored by the Association of American Law Schools for her paper “The Forgotten History of Metes and Bounds.”
Professor Richard Schragger’s paper “The Attack on American Cities” was named one of the best environmental law articles of the 2017-18 academic year. The article was selected for inclusion in the next edition of the Environmental Law and Policy Annual Review.
… And Faculty Serving the Greater Good
Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring appointed Professor Toby J. Heytens ’00 solicitor general. The Office of the Solicitor General represents Virginia in the U.S. Supreme Court, the Supreme Court of Virginia and federal circuit courts in non-capital cases that call into question the constitutionality of a state statute or that bear on policies of the commonwealth.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission announced in May that Professor and former Dean Paul G. Mahoney was appointed to its Investor Advisory Committee.
Professor Dayna Bowen Matthew ’87 was chosen for the Disparities Leadership Program to develop solutions to combat racial disparities in readmission and mortality rates.
Professor George Rutherglen and his team achieved a settlement with the commonwealth of Virginia to provide potentially life-saving treatments to an inmate at the Buckingham Correctional Center.
Professor Aditya Bamzai was nominated to the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, an independent, bipartisan agency within the executive branch that advises senior officials.
Award-Winning Year for Students
UVA Law students won the International and European Tax Moot Court in Belgium in March, becoming the first U.S team to earn that honor in the competition’s almost 15-year history.
The Black Law Students Association also won national chapter of the year honors for the second straight year and for the fifth time since 2002.
The American Constitution Society for Law and Policy was named ACS student chapter of the year.
The Virginia Law Weekly won the American Bar Association Student Division’s 2018 Law School Newspaper Award for the second straight year.
UVA Law students assisted attorney Rhonda Quagliana ’95 in the winning pro bono defense of DeAndre Harris, who was charged with assault and battery stemming from the “Unite the Right” rally.
The Law School announced this summer a new Civil Rights Clinic that will allow students interested in fighting injustice to gain real-world experience, starting in the spring.
The first set of studies from UVA Law’s Virginia Criminal Justice Policy Reform Project, presented in April to the Virginia Criminal Sentencing Commission, found discrepancies in alternative sentencing for low-risk offenders.
Deirdre Enright ’92 and Jennifer Givens, directors of the Innocence Project at UVA Law, were on hand in April for the release of their client Messiah Johnson, who was conditionally pardoned.
The Virginia Court of Appeals in May officially exonerated Gary L. Bush, another Innocence Project client, who was wrongly convicted of two Virginia bank robberies.
Enright, Givens and students with the Innocence Project welcomed back to freedom their paroled client, Darnell Phillips, in September. The man who was sentenced to 100 years in prison for the 1990 rape of a child in Virginia Beach was paroled earlier in the day, about three years after new evidence was uncovered in the case by the Innocence Project.
Yuji Iwasawa of Japan, a 1997 S.J.D. graduate of UVA Law, was elected in June to a judgeship on the International Court of Justice, the United Nation’s principal judicial body. Iwasawa, a law professor at the University of Tokyo, has served as chair of the U.N. Human Rights Committee, president of the Japanese Society of International Law and vice chair of the London-based International Law Association.
Florian Knerr of Germany, a 2014 LL.M. graduate of UVA Law, was named a clerk for Judge Nawaf Salam of Lebanon at the International Court of Justice. He is participating in the International Court of Justice University Traineeship Program as a UVA Law World Court Fellow.
Eight students in the Human Rights Study Project spent two weeks in Myanmar over winter break to study the country’s nascent government in person. Students will travel to Nepal in January.
Ashley Finger, a 2018 graduate and a participant in 2018’s Salzburg Cutler Fellows Program, served as rapporteur for the Salzburg Global Seminar in May.
Members of the Black Law Students Association ventured to Cape Town, South Africa, to interview victims of apartheid as part of its annual international service trip.
As part of Professor Mila Versteeg’s research for a book on how nations enforce constitutional rights, UVA Law students Paul Devamithran ’20 and Alex Viner ’20 traveled with her to Colombia to study how courts handle health care claims.
Honoring Black Alumni
UVA and the Law School honored the legacy of Gregory Swanson with a ceremony and portrait unveiling in February that recognized his significance as the University’s first black student. The inaugural Gregory H. Swanson Award was presented to students Jah Akande ’19 and Toccara Nelson ’19.
Triumphs and milestones of UVA Law’s black alumni were highlighted in the spring issue of UVA Lawyer.
The Black Law Students Association named U.S. Rep. A. Donald McEachin ’86 recipient of the inaugural BLSA Alumni Spotlight Award, which recognizes alumni who are engaged in the community in a way that is uplifting the black community.
Shaping the Law
Professor Paul Stephan ’77 saw six years of work as a coordinating reporter for the American Law Institute come to fruition in September, when “The Restatement (Fourth) of the Foreign Relations Law of the United States” was published.
The Supreme Court of Virginia ruled in favor of a plaintiff represented in oral argument by Vice Dean Leslie Kendrick ’06, in a landmark ruling over state tort law and corporate negligence.
Professor Douglas Laycock completed the final three volumes of “Religious Liberty,” a collection of his writings over a four-decade career on the often legally and socially contentious topic of religion and the law.
Professors Stephan, Pierre-Hugues Verdier and Mila Versteeg collaborated on a recent book, “Comparative International Law,” that’s helping to redefine international law through new comparative study.
Professor Kimberly Kessler Ferzan, a legal philosopher and former prosecutor, co-authored “Reflections on Crime and Culpability: Problems and Puzzles,” which explores a series of quandaries that have arisen from her scholarship concerning retribution in criminal law.
Scholars gathered in Charlottesville in September to explore the history of racism, current racial division and how to combat it after the events of Aug. 11-12, 2017, during UVA Law’s conference, “One Year After Charlottesville: Replacing the Resurgence of Racism With Reconciliation.”
High Honors for New Grads
Cory Sagduyu ’18 received a Skadden Fellowship to work on behalf of immigrant victims of workplace crimes or labor exploitation. The program is considered the most prestigious and competitive public interest fellowship in the country.
Maya Iyyani ’18 began her role as UVA Law’s 17th Powell Fellow in Legal Services, an honor that funds her representation of indigent tenants with mental health challenges in California’s Bay Area.
Adam Sorensen ’17 was chosen to serve as one of four Bristow Fellows in the Office of the Solicitor General at the U.S. Department of Justice.
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.