New York

With more than 1,850 alumni, the New York City metro area has the second-highest number of graduates of the University of Virginia School of Law, and in recent years is often the most common place alumni start their careers. Considering the school's strength in law and business, it's no surprise that one of the world's centers for business and transactional law has become a magnet for alumni, and a place where grads hold an impressive array of jobs, including in public service. We talked to several alumni to gather their work experiences and tips for students and graduates on how to succeed there.

The UVA Law Network is an occasional series on careers for graduates. The school's 20,000 graduates are located in 50 states and more than 60 foreign countries.

Advice from Alumni in New York


Carol Bagley Amon '71

Senior Judge, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York

How did UVA Law prepare you for your practice or career choices? 
Prior to becoming a judge, I spent 12 years as a federal prosecutor in the Criminal Division of the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York, trying a wide variety of cases, including ones involving international narcotics conspiracies, espionage and terrorism. Two experiences stand out as preparing me to be a litigator. First, participating in Moot Court and serving on the Moot Court Board taught me to focus on critical issues and craft cogent and persuasive arguments. It also helped me overcome the potentially paralyzing fear of addressing a court or jury. Second, I benefitted from taking courses taught using the Socratic method. Many of the fine professors at UVA skillfully implemented this method, most notably my civil procedure professor, John McCoid, who was nicknamed "the Cobra" because students in his class never knew when he would strike. The Socratic method taught me to quickly analyze difficult problems and sift through extraneous and irrelevant information. The best lawyers and judges that I know are those who can cut through a long record or a flurry of arguments and quickly grasp the essential issues. I began to acquire that skill at UVA. After 25 years on the bench in one of the busiest courts in the nation, I almost have it down.

Do you have any advice for new UVA Law grads wanting to work in New York?
In thinking about giving advice on coming to New York, I am reminded of the iconic movie "Back to School," starring Rodney Dangerfield. He gives a graduation speech in which he exhorts the students: "As you go out into the world, my advice to you is . . . don't go! It's rough out there. Move back with your parents. Let them worry about it."

New York can be a very tough place. It is ridiculously expensive, and life as an associate at a big firm is intense. Having said that, in my humble opinion, there is no more exciting place on earth to work and to play. I have never regretted for a single moment my initial decision some 43 years ago to move here from Virginia. The cases that I tried as a prosecutor and the ones I now preside over as a judge are endlessly fascinating and important.

I would advise young graduates to come to New York, if only for just a couple of years, to experience all that the city has to offer and to learn the trade from the best. I would also encourage young graduates to apply for clerkships in the New York federal courts and particularly in my court, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, located in the very hip borough of Brooklyn. There is no better way to learn how to be a litigator than to clerk in a court with experienced and admired judges who preside over some of the most significant cases in the country.


Lisa M. Friel '83

Special Counsel for Investigations, National Football League

How did UVA Law prepare you for your practice or career choices?
I entered UVA Law thinking I wanted to go into public service of some kind, and so many professors and administrators at the Law School both supported and inspired me to go in this direction. My courses and the wonderful professors who taught them all taught me how to read, write, think, and speak critically and intelligently about the law and the issues to which the law related. My Criminal Law and Procedure courses, Constitutional Law I and II, Employment Discrimination and a seminar I took with Professor A. E. Dick Howard were especially helpful to my future career. I still remember things I learned during them and who taught them. I also credit my fellow students and the atmosphere at UVA Law for furthering my ability to work well as a team — to valuing the ultimate goal, not who gets credit for achieving it. UVA Law is unique in fostering an environment of teamwork and trust, both of which are so important to be successful in today’s world.


Janice Johnston '95

Executive Producer, ABC's "20/20"

How did UVA Law prepare you for your practice or career choices? 
My practice is arguably non-traditional for a UVA Law grad. In fact, even though I keep my New York bar license active and did practice as an attorney early on, I’m no longer practicing as such. I’m a network television producer. Over 17 years at ABC, my stories have included an unending diversity of topics — from being on the White House campaign trail, to standing on the Oscars red carpet. And while my specific memories of Insurance Law or Civil Procedure class are not immediately relevant to my day-to-day work, the overall lessons remain. The practice of dissecting a problem, thinking of all sides to a story and then being able to share that with others, is a daily exercise.

The biggest connections between my UVA Law days and my career are: A keen focus on the minutia of facts, and a focus on preparing questions. Facts: The facts of a case, like the facts of a news story, are already out there. You just have to unearth them ... all of them. Some are obvious, but the true gems are often hidden in unimagined places. Digging deeper enhances any story. Questions: Just like the questions in a deposition can become the backbone to a case, so too your questions to the shoot-subject drive what makes it through final edit to air. Focus on facts. Focus on questions.


J. Leonard Teti '05

Tax Partner, Cravath, Swaine & Moore

How did UVA Law prepare you for your practice or career choices?
Certainly the Law & Business Program, which was nascent when I started at UVA Law in 2002, helped prepare me for a transactional corporate tax practice in New York. As far as my interest in tax goes, I had no proper background for that (no economics in college; no accounting or corporate finance experience). I took Federal Income Tax with Professor Paul Stephan in the spring of my 1L year. Then I took International Tax and Corporate Tax in my 2L year. As a summer associate at Cravath, I spent time in the tax department. By the end of the summer, I had decided that I wanted to start my career in tax.

But more generally, the way UVA Law students experience school helped turn me into a transactional lawyer. Professors and students at UVA Law think deeply about various facets of legal and commercial issues, and that sort of approach prepared me well for my practice, which focuses on complex and nuanced legal and business problems.

Do you have any advice for new UVA Law grads wanting to work in New York?
I am seeing an increasing number of UVA Law students show an interest in working in New York, and I hope the trend continues, because my sense is that New York law firms want and need more UVA Law students. I would encourage budding New York lawyers to focus on corporate law fundamentals: what corporations are, how their directors and shareholders interact, and how courts resolve disputes that arise between them. These issues are important not only for corporate and transactional lawyers, but also (and maybe even especially) for litigators. Another suggestion would be to get some exposure to financial accounting and corporate finance principles; not only are the substantive concepts worth being familiar with, but having a working knowledge of the relevant vocabulary will put you ahead of many of your peers as you begin a law practice.

Most importantly, be ready to see lots of things you haven't seen before in law school, and bring with you a sense of curiosity and willingness to learn what you don't know.


Chuka Ugwu-Oju '13

Assistant General Counsel, Ipsos

How did UVA Law prepare you for your practice or career choices?
Though I was initially skeptical, I very soon realized after beginning my first year that the school’s reputation for collegiality is well-deserved. Law school is inherently competitive and often intellectual demanding, but my time at UVA showed me that these pressures are much easier to handle in an atmosphere of mutual respect and kindness. I’ve kept this in mind since graduating law school and can confidently say that this attitude has served me well over the course of my (admittedly very young) legal career. I think that if you treat people well and make it clear that you expect to be treated well, everything about this job becomes simpler.

Do you have any advice for new UVA Law grads wanting to work in New York?
Keep an open mind. I assume that most, if not all, of the people who’ve recently completed three years of law school and spent an entire summer preparing for the bar exam have specific ideas about how they’d like to spend their legal careers. I, by no means, intend to discourage this, but I also feel obligated to note that it’s very hard to appreciate how many different opportunities there are, particularly in a place like New York City, until you’ve begun practicing. On a semi-regular basis, I find out that not only does a certain area of a law exist, but that it’s practiced at an extremely high level in New York City. Choices abound, so don’t worry too much if you end up feeling like the first one wasn’t the right one.


More in the UVA Law Network Series

1,850+ Alumni

Leaders in New York

Carol Amon '71 
Senior Judge, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York

Anthony Della Pietra Jr. '85 
Managing Director, Citi Holdings, Citigroup

Rosetta Ellis-Pilie '99 
Vice President, Talent Development & Negotiations, ESPN

Thomas Ferree '02
Senior Vice President of Legal, National Hockey League

Lisa Friel '83 
Special Counsel for Investigations, National Football League

Grace Fu '09
General Counsel, KAYAK and Open Table

Janice Johnston '95 
Executive Producer, ABC's "20/20"

Peter Kaufman '78 
President, Gordian Group

Catherine Keating '87 
CEO, BNY Mellon Wealth Management

Roger Kimmel '71
Former Vice Chairman, Rothschild

Joseph Leccese '85 
Chairman Emeritus, Proskauer Rose

Stephen Malone '97
Vice President Legal, Employment & Corporate Affairs, Fox Corporation

Theodore Mathas '92
Chairman and Retired CEO, New York Life Insurance

Thomas Ostertag '81
Retired Senior Vice President, Major League Baseball

Patrick Quinn '88
Managing Partner, Cadwalader

Dasha Smith '98 
Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer, National Football League

J. Leonard Teti '05
Tax Partner, Cravath, Swaine & Moore

Robert Zack '75
Retired Counsel, Dechert

Top Employers

Chart of employers



Lisa M. Friel '83
Special Counsel for Investigations, National Football League

“UVA Law is unique in fostering an environment of teamwork and trust, both of which are so important to be successful in today’s world.”