Director of Public Service Joins Law School

Former Death Row Attorney Dawn Davison Will Guide Students, Alumni Through Search Process
Dawn Davison

Dawn Davison is a former senior staff attorney with the Virginia Capital Representation Resource Center. Photo by Julia Davis

October 14, 2021

Dawn Davison has joined the University of Virginia School of Law as a new director of public service.

“My goal is to help each one of our students and our alumni find their dream job,” Davison said, “that thing that both fulfills whatever personal and professional goals they have and to help them feel confident in that search.”

She will work under the direction of Assistant Dean for Public Service Annie Kim ’99, who leads both the Mortimer Caplin Public Service Center and Program in Law and Public Service. Davison joins directors Leah Gould and Amanda Yale as a counselor for those seeking to start or advance public service careers, or who simply wish to add public service experience to their portfolio.

Before joining the Law School, Davison was a senior staff attorney with the Virginia Capital Representation Resource Center, a nonprofit law firm that specializes in the representation of condemned inmates. Davison represented clients in their state and federal habeas corpus proceedings and clemency applications for more than 13 years.

After Virginia abolished the death penalty, Davison decided she was ready for a new career. Inspired by her time working with interns at the center, she made the jump to academia.

“I thought about what it is that I loved,” she added. “I feel very much at home in a public interest setting and a public interest community, and I was one of those people who loved law school.”

“We’re thrilled to have Dawn join the Public Service Center,” Kim said. “She has dedicated her career to protecting the rights of the most marginalized individuals in our society, building deep relationships with her clients along the way. I know that she will bring the same commitment, empathy and imagination to her work at UVA Law.”

Davison said public interest employers want applicants whose backgrounds demonstrate a history that matches their organization’s service objectives.

“They want to know that you care about the mission of their organization, that you care about their clients, and that it’s not just lip service,” she said. “If you can demonstrate that interest with real-world experience through internships or externships, or maybe through volunteering, I think that’s crucial.”

Davison graduated Order of the Coif with a J.D. from Washington and Lee University School of Law and earned a bachelor’s from the University of New Mexico.

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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