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The View From Here: A Note of Thanks to Dean Jeffries

By Brian Leung ’08, Outgoing SBA President

Brian Leung
Brian Leung '08

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Almost three years ago, I came into this law school bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. “I’m at a top ten school,” I thought to myself. Surely this means that I’m one of the best and brightest of the country. Law school won’t be a complete breeze, but I can handle it. A couple hours of reading, some diligent note-taking, and a day or two of prep before the final exam, and I’d be good to go.

Enter Dean Jeffries. As a 1L, I was one of the lucky ones to have him for Criminal Law. You’ll have to understand that, just a couple days before the first day of class, we were having meetings with our Peer Advisors. They were joking around, telling us about how great of a place Virginia Law is, how the B+ curve is our savior, and how we’re just one great big happy family. For the most part, they were spot on, but that made me pretty confident walking into class. Perhaps unnecessarily confident.

Over the next few days, weeks, and months, Dean Jeffries transformed everything I thought I knew about the law. His at-times-ruthless Socratic cold-calling sent me into a spiraling panic, leaving me reading each case the weekend before, the night before, and the morning of class just to be sure I knew that case like the back of my hand.

By the end of the semester, Dean Jeffries had taken that bright-eyed and over-confident 1L and turned him into a more refined (I use that term loosely) law student. I think back to that semester and I can’t help but feel appreciative that I was fortunate enough to have Dean Jeffries as a professor. They say that law school teaches you how to think like a lawyer. I say it was Dean Jeffries who taught me how to think like a lawyer.

Outside of the classroom, I’ve also had the opportunity to work with him in my role as president of the Student Bar Association. Passionate is the word that best describes him. Dean Jeffries is passionate about the school and is constantly looking out for its best interests, both in the short term and in the long run. He is passionate about student organizations and helping groups with brainstorming, finances, and events. And he is passionate about individual students – he wants each and every one of us to succeed both academically and personally.

No 500-word article could really do Dean Jeffries the justice he deserves. For students, he has grown to be a bit of an icon. It goes without saying that he will be missed terribly.

Thank you, Dean Jeffries. Thank you for whipping me into academic shape 1L year. Thank you for all the guidance you’ve given me and the SBA this past year. Thank you for standing up for students and fighting to make our three years here downright enjoyable. Thank you for everything it is that you do for Virginia Law.