Students Win Awards for Highest GPAs
Haley Gorman ’24 and Jeffrey Horn ’23 were recently recognized for having the highest GPAs in their classes at the University of Virginia School of Law.
Gorman won the Carl M. Franklin Prize for earning the highest GPA after two semesters, while Horn received the Jackson Walker LLP Award for the highest GPA after four semesters. Recipients for the awards receive a cash prize and have their names engraved on plaques in Hunton Andrews Kurth Hall.
Gorman, who grew up outside of Chicago, graduated from the College of William & Mary with a bachelor’s degree in government and history. As an undergraduate, she was selected as a William & Mary Woman of Influence in 2021 and received the Boes/Tucker Volunteer of the Year award in 2021.
Since arriving at UVA Law, Gorman has become a research assistant for Dean Risa Goluboff, through which she took on projects like analyzing civil, criminal and administrative actions that resulted from the August 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville. Last summer, she was a Strauss Diversity and Inclusion Scholar at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld in Washington, D.C. In 2023, she plans to return to the firm as a summer associate.
Horn, an avid baseball fan who hails from just outside of Las Vegas, said coming to Virginia for law school has allowed him to appreciate all four seasons. As an undergraduate at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, he studied economics, was president of the debate team and was ranked third as a debater nationally in 2018.
Over the summer, Horn was an associate for a law firm in Washington, D.C., where he drafted memoranda on topics such as the Anti-Terrorism Act and Federal Election Campaign Act. Since coming to UVA, he has taken on the role of notes editor for the Virginia Law Review, become part of the Supreme Court Litigation Clinic, and won the Franklin Prize for having the highest GPA last year.
Gorman and Horn recently answered some questions about their law school journey so far and how they balance their personal lives and academics.
Why did you decide to go to law school?
HG: I took a constitutional law course at William & Mary. I found it fascinating, and it drove my interest in both appellate law and legal theory. It made me think — how are these decisions being made? Is there room to use them in a positive way to affect people on the ground? It solidified that law school would be the right place for me.
JH: I spent a good deal of time in high school and in college at debate tournaments. Several of the topics I debated involved legal issues in administrative law, executive power, health care, energy law and other areas. I was very energized by researching and debating those issues. I often found the legal issues the most exciting because they were the most complex. I also realized the tremendous impact that lawyers can have by shaping the law across a range of important subject areas.
What clinic or class has been the most rewarding to you and why?
HG: The one that most stands out is Professor [Barbara] Armacost’s torts class. She is just incredible. She did such a great job of connecting the material to practical legal arguments.
We weren’t just learning rules — she pushed us to consider, if we were sitting in court, how would we take all this material and try to help a client? I found it refreshing that she impressed upon us our moral responsibilities as attorneys, and that practicing law is a privilege. Her broad takeaway was that we have to take responsibility for the arguments we make and the people that we represent.
JH: I’ve found Professor [Charles] Barzun’s constitutional law class particularly impactful. Professor Barzun masterfully situated the constitutional provisions we studied in historical context. He also challenged me to think critically about the role of the courts. I often come back to the lessons I learned in that class when I find myself thinking about tough legal issues.
What are your future career plans?
HG: I hope to clerk after graduation. I’d like to learn from a judge on the federal bench. I want to practice appellate law and would love to advocate on behalf of causes that mean a lot to me, whether that be LGBTQ rights or voting rights or women’s rights. The opportunity to play a role there would be incredible. Especially because I think that federal courts will play a significant role in shaping some of our biggest conversations as a country over the next few decades.
JH: I’m thrilled to join Covington and Burling’s D.C. office next fall. Then the following year, I have the great honor of clerking for Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III [’72] here in Charlottesville. I’m excited and humbled to have both opportunities. I’m looking forward to applying the lessons I have learned in school outside the classroom.
What is something you’re passionate about outside of classes?
HG: Being outside of the classroom is important to me. I’ve loved camping, hiking, canoeing since I was a kid. That played a huge role in my summers during undergrad as well. So, to come down to Charlottesville, in such a beautiful part of the country where all of that is available, is great. I feel like I get to do what I love during the week, but because it’s Charlottesville I get the opportunity to do what I love on weekends, too.
JH: I’m a huge baseball fan — go Dodgers. I’ve also recently gotten into chess — I like that there’s always more to learn. I’ve also enjoyed exploring Charlottesville and getting outside. I’m from Las Vegas and there are not many trees there, so I’m easy to please with the outdoors here. It’s been essential, with all the pressures of law school, to find balance and spend time outside the law library.
What was your reaction to learning about your class ranking?
HG: I was just so grateful. When I think back on last year, I was lucky to have friends who were great to study with, but who were also so good at pushing me to find a balance. To have had that support system, especially during my first year — I just have a lot of gratitude. It certainly was not what I expected entering law school.
JH: I felt a deep sense of gratitude. I owe it to the incredible support of my family, friends and professors. And of course, a great deal of luck along the way.
What do you think has contributed to your success in law school?
HG: Having professors who were accessible and open about possible career paths and were willing to give advice and share their perspectives. I didn’t grow up in a family of attorneys, so having people who were willing to illuminate those paths was wonderful. But I think a complement to that was knowing myself well enough to know what success looks like. For me, a lot of that is balance — including prioritizing different things at different times. Some weeks can be super academic but other weeks I’m more focused on my team’s Friday softball game.
JH: The most important thing has always been talking about the law. It’s the debater in me, but I’ve always found that I learn the most from verbalizing my thoughts. I’ve been very lucky to be surrounded by a brilliant group of professors and peers at the Law School who have been willing to share their perspectives about the law with me. Those countless discussions, I think, have been my greatest asset.
JACKSON WALKER LLP AWARD
CARL M. FRANKLIN PRIZE
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.