Second-year student Bryce Campanelli hit the ground running at the University of Virginia School of Law. 

At the Law School, Campanelli is president of the Virginia Environmental Law Forum, vice president for career development for Lambda Law Alliance, an editorial board member of the Virginia Law Review and long run coordinator for the newly formed North Grounds Track Club. He is also a research assistant for Professor Alison Gocke.

The Palmyra, Virginia, native earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and history from Brown University.

In our occasional series “Star Witness,” Campanelli discussed how his interest in energy policy brought him to law school, and he and his classmates’ plans to raise mental health awareness through running.

Tell us something about your life before law school.

I grew up a townie, being born and raised in Fluvanna County. I’ve always loved sports and after trying everything from gymnastics to football, I ultimately fell in love with diving. I got hooked trying to do as many flips as I could off a diving board. I’ve always had a close connection to UVA, as I would drive nearly every day in high school to practice at the [Aquatic & Fitness Center] pool. I had the privilege of winning the Virginia state championship my senior year of high school and then was able to pursue this passion at Brown University. Looking back at it, I can’t believe I was crazy enough to do all those tricks from so high up!

Why law school?

Prior to law school, I spent some time working as a consultant with clients ranging from the energy industry to financial services, working to deploy a range of ESG [environmental, social and governance], energy and climate policy solutions. I then moved over to work in-house at KPMG, where I helped the firm launch its inaugural ESG strategy and report. Through both experiences, I realized my passion for working with corporate entities to help address climate change and interest in developing state and local policies that will unleash the energy transition while ensuring reliable, equitable energy access. Ultimately, I wanted to combine my policy and communications experience with a better understanding of the law to help create a business environment that will foster growth while addressing the challenges of climate change.

Describe your most interesting law school experience.

I know it’s nerdy, but on the academic side, I have really loved the independent research I have been working on this semester. It involves analyzing state integrated resource plans to see if these planning requirements and strategies can help the country transition our electricity generation to renewable sources and ultimately reach full decarbonization.

I love the UVA Law community and am very passionate about fostering a vibrant space for those at UVA interested in environmental and energy law. Specifically, making it easier for students and faculty to connect through out-of-class experiences that help expand student knowledge about the tools and legal innovations necessary to advance solutions to climate change. Fostering a vibrant queer community has been very important to me during my time at UVA. I got involved in Lambda at the beginning of my first year to further strengthen and build a community on Grounds where everyone can be their authentic selves regardless of their sexual or gender orientation.

Tell us about running the Philadelphia Marathon.

Personally, my favorite law school experience has been the past four months of training for the Philadelphia Marathon with a group of my fellow law students. From many a long run together to big pasta dinners, having this uniting force has been such a great way to bond with my friends, spark open dialogue, and for us to push each other towards a really challenging goal. As a group, we have decided to dedicate this marathon to raising awareness of men’s mental health and honoring the men who were unable to receive help when they needed it most. We want to promote emotional vulnerability as a masculine expression of love, compassion and strength, and advocate for healthy forms of masculine expression. We are all growing out our mustaches for the month of November to spark these important, and too frequently underdiscussed, conversations. This group extends well past just the runners, and to me that is what makes it so great. We’re all coming together to raise money, but, more importantly, to show loud and clear that it’s okay to not be okay, and as men we should talk about these things and help each other receive the care and support needed to make it through difficult times.

What’s next for you?

After law school, I am planning on moving to D.C. to work in the field of either energy regulation or transactional law. I am interested in dedicating my career to helping companies build and deploy the technology necessary to meet the challenges of climate change and ensuring that our regulatory environment quickly and effectively facilitates the energy transition.

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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