Mara Brust

5/10/15/25

H

ow's life? We catch up with what alumni are doing 5, 10, 15 and 25 years out of law school.

5 Years

Mara Brust | Associate, Comny Feste

Mara Brust

Describe your work: I do litigation work, including personal injury, family law and commercial litigation.

What activities do you enjoy outside of work? In addition to my work as an attorney at Conmy Feste, I currently serve on the Fargo Planning Commission, the board of directors of The Arts Partnership, and the board of governors of the North Dakota Association of Justice. I also chair a subcommittee of a local task force to improve workforce retention, and I dance with the Fargo-Moorhead Ballet. 

Are you where you expected to be at this stage of your career and life?Even though I have always been committed to public service, I never anticipated making my first run for public office at the age of 23. I am currently running for Fargo City Commission with the goal of ensuring that my hometown reaches its full potential. 

What do you like about your life 5 years after law school? I am grateful to live in a community that provides me an opportunity to fully engage my diverse interests. There are not many places I know of where I could be an attorney, ballerina and planning commissioner.

10 Years

Tiffany Graves | Executive Director, Mississippi Access to Justice Commission

Tiffany Graves

Describe your work: I lead a 21-member commission that was created by the Mississippi Supreme Court to develop a unified strategy to improve access to justice in civil legal proceedings for the poor in Mississippi.

What activities do you enjoy outside of work? I am pleased to serve on several boards that align with my full-time work, including the Women’s Foundation of Mississippi and the Center for Violence Prevention. I am also a member of the inaugural fellowship class of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Community Leadership Network. Outside of my board and fellowship, I enjoy reading and traveling.

Are you where you expected to be at this stage of your career and life? I am proud to say that I am where I thought I would be. I am happily married, fulfilled by my work and able to visit with my family in Virginia as often as I like. 

What do you like about your life 10 years after law school? I went to law school to help empower and give a voice to those who feel stymied by an often less-than-welcoming legal system. My work with the Mississippi Access to Justice Commission allows me to do that every day, and it is incredibly fulfilling. Mississippi is the poorest state in the country, with 700,000 people living at or below poverty. If you include the so-called “working poor,” there are more people who cannot afford legal assistance than who can. My work gets those with limited means past the thresholds of the state’s courthouses and out of the situations that brought them there in the first place.  

15 Years

Christopher Chorba | Partner, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher

Christopher Chorba

Describe your work: I currently serve as co-partner in charge of our Los Angeles office and co-chair of our Class Actions Practice Group. 

What activities do you enjoy outside of work? My 9-year-old son keeps me very busy in my free time, and I also serve on the board of directors of the Good Shepherd Shelter, a domestic violence shelter in Los Angeles. 

Are you where you expected to be at this stage of your career and life? I went to law school to become a prosecutor, but I really enjoyed private civil practice a lot more than expected, which has been a pleasant surprise. But my goals have been the same—to do the best job I can every day. 

What do you like about your life 15 years after law school? The freedom and flexibility to work in a number of different industries. Every day and every case presents new challenges and opportunities. I really do love my job. 

25 Years

Jeffrey Ferguson | General Counsel, The Carlyle Group

Jeffrey Ferguson

Describe your work: As general counsel of The Carlyle Group, I attend lots of executive meetings where I listen carefully and try to speak infrequently, use my best efforts to supervise around 50 lawyers and compliance personnel in our offices around the world, attempt to select the right outside counsel for myriad legal issues, and try to use the best judgment I can summon on all matters big and small.

What activities do you enjoy outside of work? Anything that is distant from my iPhone, mostly including outside activities such as gardening and basketball (which has become equally painful and enjoyable), and recently including spin classes (which is a very good workout that my girlfriend strongly encourages me to do). 

Are you where you expected to be at this stage of your career and life? While in law school, I never imagined how my life and career would turn out. I do not know where the last 25 years disappeared, and I never imagined working as an internal counsel or being a senior executive of a global investment firm, but real life has greatly exceeded any potential expectations, because I mostly assumed I would work in a big law firm until it made me senile, or return to the Burnt Chimney (Virginia) of my childhood and milk cows.

What do you like about your life 25 years after law school? I have a beautiful home that makes me happy, especially when filled with interesting friends who are enjoying wine and food; I no longer have that recurring bad dream about taking the bar exam; and I have a career that is rarely boring.

Media Contact

Mary M. Wood
Chief Communications Officer
wood@law.virginia.edu / (434) 924-3786

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