Event Marks 10 Years of Public Service Program

Jim Ryan, Kim Rolla and Risa Goluboff

UVA President Jim Ryan ’92, Kim Rolla ’13 of the Legal Aid Justice Center and Dean Risa Goluboff attended an event marking the 10th anniversary of the Program in Law and Public Service. Photos by Tom Cogill

December 5, 2019

The University of Virginia School of Law community came together Monday to celebrate 10 years of the Program in Law and Public Service and induct the incoming class of fellows.

Alumni, program fellows and faculty gathered at the Law School for a panel discussion, reception and remarks by UVA President Jim Ryan ’92 and keynote speaker Kim Rolla ’13.

The program is designed to provide a select group of students access to a tailored curriculum and intensive training and mentoring that will prepare them for public service careers.

Ryan, a former Law School vice dean who founded the program in 2009, urged students, when they become new lawyers, to use their legal training to help others and to consider working from the inside to make positive change.

Rolla, a UVA Law lecturer with the Legal Aid Justice Center’s Civil Rights and Racial Justice Program, said the program offered students a platform for success. Rolla is a former Powell Fellow in Legal Services and was a 2018 recipient of the Law School’s Shaping Justice Rising Star Award.

“The program planted the seed for so many relationships that are important to me, I couldn’t even tell you about a fraction of them tonight,” Rolla said.

Rolla recalled teaming up with fellows as a law student to support the Living Wage Campaign on Grounds. With help from Professor Richard Schragger, the students’ legal research rebuffed claims that the University was barred from requiring contractors to pay higher wages.

Rolla’s advice to students: “Don’t let others define your metrics of success.”

An incoming class of 29 students were inducted as fellows during the event, joining 259 alumni and current fellows.

Earlier in the day, a panel of alumni who graduated from the program spoke about their careers in public service. Jeree Thomas ’11, Melanie Smith ’11 and Aditi Goel ’12 were among the first class of fellows admitted to the program, in their second and first years of law school, respectively. Thomas is currently a program officer for criminal justice reform initiatives at Borealis Philanthropy, Smith is an assistant U.S. attorney in the Northern District of Texas, and Goel is a clinical instructor at Harvard Law School’s criminal justice clinic.

Professor Crystal Shin ’10, director of the Program in Law and Public Service, said the school has continued to expand the program.

In the past few years alone, the program helped launch the Shaping Justice conference, created a peer mentoring component, and started monthly “Lunch & Learn” meetings with inspiring public interest practitioners around the country.

“This program is training leaders in public service who are humble, zealous, client-centered and relentless in pursuing justice for all,” Shin said.  

  • Jim Ryan

    UVA President Jim Ryan ’92 urged students, when they become new lawyers, to use their legal training to help others.

  • Kim Rolla

    Kim Rolla ’13, a UVA Law lecturer with the Legal Aid Justice Center’s Civil Rights and Racial Justice Program, delivers the keynote.

  • Jeree Thomas, Aditi Goel and Melanie Smith

    Program graduates Jeree Thomas ’11, Aditi Goel ’12 and Melanie Smith ’11 speak about their careers in public service.

  • Jeree Thomas

    Thomas previously served as a policy director for Campaign for Youth Justice, and as a Skadden Fellow with the JustChildren Program of the Legal Aid Justice Center.

  • Crystal Shin

    Professor Crystal Shin ’10, director of the Program in Law and Public Service, introduces Ryan.

  • Jim Ryan

    Ryan is a former Law School vice dean who founded the program in 2009.

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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