When Chloe Fife, a first-year student at the University of Virginia School of Law, takes office as the new president of the school’s Lambda Law Alliance chapter Thursday, she will bring to the role a focus on advocacy and inclusivity from her own unique point of view.
She is the first transgender woman to hold the position.
Lambda, founded at UVA Law in 1984 as the Gay and Lesbian Law Student Association, is the oldest Law School affinity group for LGBTQ students — as well as other nonbinary students and their allies.
Fife will oversee the group’s regular efforts to raise awareness about legal issues relevant to sexual and gender minorities. But she also hopes the group can more directly help students, whether they are struggling, or simply striving, to attain their best outcomes.
“I really want to take up the agenda of making this an advocacy organization, one that can help LGBTQ students internally and externally achieve their goals,” she said.
To that end, the organization is adding new chairs for mentorship and inclusivity this year. Fife and fellow first-year Rachel Slepoi advocated for the greater emphasis on bridge-building, especially for students just beginning their law school experience. Outgoing president Jessica Feinberg formally proposed the new positions, and the outgoing executive board approved them.
Fife is a native of St. George, Utah, who brought some previous law-related experience to UVA.
At the University of Utah, where she earned her undergraduate degree in writing and rhetoric, she wrote a 70-page report as part of a senior project that recommended how a new student legal services office on campus might work. The school incorporated many of her recommendations upon founding such an office.
Before law school, she worked at a small Salt Lake City family law firm, including on a case that involved the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. She provided feedback to help strengthen attorneys’ arguments as one part of her job.
She also was a Kaplan LSAT instructor (after taking the test herself to get into law school).
Fife is enjoying an active first year, having also helped organize a Virginia Animal Law Society conference on Main Grounds during the fall as the group’s communications chair.
She said she is appreciative of the Law School’s supportive professors, including Dayna Bowen Matthew ’87, her constitutional law instructor, and Anne Coughlin, who is well-known for her student advocacy. Each year, Coughlin, who is Lambda’s faculty adviser, organizes a dinner for women and gender-non-conforming students.
“Over the years, Lambda has taken its place as an absolute powerhouse among our student groups,” Coughlin said. “I look forward to supporting the new initiatives being launched by Chloe and her colleagues.”
While it’s still early in her studies, Fife said she is interested in practicing regulatory law, perhaps either in New York City or Washington, D.C.
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.