UVA Law Names New Administrators

Laura Howell ’11 Joins as Director of Admissions, Adriana Vito Named Assistant Dean for Graduate Studies
Laura Howell and Adriana Vito

Laura Howell ’11 and Adriana Vito have been hired as UVA Law’s new director of admissions and assistant dean for graduate studies, respectively. Photos by Julia Davis

February 24, 2020

Laura Howell, a 2011 graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law, has been hired as a director of admissions. Adriana Vito has also joined UVA Law as assistant dean for graduate studies.

Howell comes to Admissions having previously served in the Office of the Attorney General of Alabama. As an assistant attorney general in the Constitutional Defense Division, she litigated challenges to state laws in federal and state court at both the trial and appellate levels. She also coordinated the office’s summer clerkship program and oversaw its recruitment efforts. In 2017, as a Supreme Court Fellow for the National Association of Attorneys General, Howell was the principal author of a U.S. Supreme Court amicus brief signed by 20 attorneys general. She has also served as a legal fellow for the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee.

At UVA Law, Howell was the executive editor of the Virginia Tax Review and the Student Bar Association Admissions Committee chair.

“I chose higher ed because the Law School is the place where the future of the legal profession begins, and starting off on the right foot is critical to building a better legal system for us all,” she said. “Who wouldn’t want to have a hand in that, given the chance?”

Howell’s previous position taught her the importance of considering every angle and perspective on a case before moving forward to litigate it, which she said would translate into a valuable skill evaluating prospective students.

Howell’s goals include doing more outreach to high school students and undergraduates interested in law school.

“Laura Howell brings a wealth of experience to the Law School’s Admissions Office,” said Cordel Faulk ’01, assistant dean and chief admissions officer. “As a student she helped us recruit strong classes, and she was a leading force in the creation of the Virginia Law Ambassadors. She adds the perspective of a public interest lawyer to the Admissions Office, and we think that will be of great support to our applicants interested in a career in public service.”

Vito, in joining Graduate Studies, has more than 13 years of experience in higher education administration, including extensive experience working with international students in undergraduate and LL.M. programs. She comes to UVA from George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School, where she was director of graduate studies and certificate programs since 2015.

In addition to her experience working with international J.D., LL.M. and S.J.D. candidates, Vito worked as an associate dean of students in UVA’s Office of the Dean of Students from 2012-15, where she served on the crisis management and student affairs team and implemented many initiatives and programs to help international students integrate into the UVA culture and community. She also served as an adjunct professor of international trade law and director for international career programs at American University’s Washington College of Law from 2006-2012. Before her career in higher education, Vito worked for the Embassy of Brazil and the Delegation of the European Union in Washington, D.C., and the international trade law groups of two law firms also in Washington.

“I returned to UVA because I am passionate about working with driven, energetic and brilliant students,” Vito said, “and I enjoy being part of the UVA culture where every faculty member, staff member and student is doing their best to achieve their highest potential.”

She said she hopes the LL.M. students who come to UVA Law will feel a sense of belonging and will thrive inside and outside of the classroom. Her goal is to have a diverse group of LL.M. students every year and ensure a positive academic experience for them.

“We have a small LL.M. class, students take virtually all their classes with J.D. students, and we strive for them to share the full UVA Law experience,” said Professor Pierre-Hugues Verdier, director of the Graduate Studies Program. “I am excited to work with Ms. Vito on continuing what makes the program special, attracting the best students from around the world, and keeping our international LL.M. alumni connected and engaged with the Law School.”

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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