National Student Legal Defense Network
Describe Your Work: About 15 months ago, I joined the National Student Legal Defense Network, where I represent student loan borrowers who attended predatory for-profit colleges. From litigation to federal and state policy advocacy to regulatory challenges, my work aims to expand equal access to higher education for students who are traditionally underserved, including students of color, students from low-income backgrounds and first-generation students, among others.
What activities do you enjoy outside of work? I love to read, try out new group fitness classes, and take our French bulldog, Eugene, on neighborhood adventures. I also like benefiting from my husband’s uncanny ability to find yet another great restaurant we haven’t tried. Finally, I’m an equally avid fan of “Grey’s Anatomy” and the UVA men’s basketball team.
Are you where you expected to be at this stage of your career and life? I never expected to work on higher education issues while in law school. But the 2016 election presented some unexpected challenges and opportunities during my post-clerkship job search. I’ve tried to analyze each new opportunity for whether it’s a way to “do the work.” For me, that means ensuring that all students have the right to receive an excellent education. If I’m doing the work, then I’m right where I need to be.
What do you like about your life 5 years after law school? I have amazing friends. I reconnected with and then married a great life partner. I’ve gotten to work on issues that really matter to me with some of the best colleagues. But I’m also grateful for the times when I’ve felt stuck, both in my life and my career. Those moments have helped me to be more intentional about charting the right path forward.
Photo by Jean Claude Photography
Bobbie L. King Jr. ’09
Nextera Energy Partners
Describe your work: Since 2014, I have led the legal operations for NextEra Energy Partners, a publicly traded clean energy “yieldco” formed in 2014 by NextEra Energy Inc. I provide advice on company strategies, manage the legal function and oversee NEP’s business transactions. It allows me to cover a wide variety of topics, including M&A, capital markets, corporate debt financing, joint ventures, Exchange Act compliance, corporate governance and any other topics that may become relevant to our management team. So my work presents a different and interesting challenge every day.
What activities do you enjoy outside of work? I love to travel with my wife, Ashley, particularly to places with good food and wine, and I am an avid golfer. Also, I spend a great deal of time working with local charities.
Are you where you expected to be at this stage of your career and life? The core of what I thought I would be doing is the same — public company representation, M&A and capital markets. I got almost everything else wrong. I expected that I would be in Boston, where I started my career, working toward being a partner at Skadden. Instead, my career has taken me from Boston to London, New York and Miami. In addition to practicing law, I have worked as a college professor and campaign staffer. Now I am working in an industry that is of incredible importance to the world we live in. I did get the most important prediction right — whom I would marry.
What do you like about your life 10 years after law school? Everything. Every facet of my life is a blessing.
Photo by Jeff Fitlow
Claudia Gee Vassar ’04
President and General Counsel
Houston Botanic Garden
Describe your work: After practicing law for nearly a decade, I followed my desire to work in the social sector and launched a career as an intentionally interim executive director. I specialized in helping organizations in transition prepare for their next leader with a focus on change management and organizational capacity building. My law school education and legal training has helped me with strategic problem-solving, advocating for a cause and leading organizations to meaningfully impact society. My last interim ED gig was at the Houston Botanic Garden, where I made the transition to my current role as president and general counsel. We are a startup nonprofit building a world-class botanic garden and my primary work is to oversee a $35 million capital campaign, a complex construction project on 132 acres, the building of a team and organizational culture, and the planning and execution of the operations and programs HBG will host to inspire guests to love plants and nature.
What activities do you enjoy outside of work? New experiences. I love experiencing the world with friends and family, through all the amazing things to do in Houston and getting out and traveling. I love seeing the world through my kids’ eyes, and being with and learning from people who have had different experiences in life. I also love jigsaw and crossword puzzles, playing piano, watching sports and eating dessert. Of course, I now visit botanic gardens every chance I get.
Are you where you expected to be at this stage of your career and life? I went to UVA Law with a strong interest in international social justice. I knew I wouldn’t be in private practice long, so in some ways, yes, working in the social sector is probably what I expected of my career. I’m not working on international social justice, but working in a global city in the social sector is pretty close.
What do you like about your life 15 years after law school? I have found a good balance for me of activities that satisfy my intellectual curiosity; personal and professional growth opportunities; friends who challenge me, support me and make me laugh; an amazing partner in my husband; and three delightful children.
Photo by Parklife Photography
Stephanie Shepard Cobb ’94 (Comm ’89)
Head of Compliance, Europe
Millennium Capital Partners
Describe your work: After over 10 years as a corporate lawyer at large firms in Boston, London and Amsterdam, I moved in-house and have not looked back. I started as general counsel for a U.K.-based asset manager, where the work quickly expanded into dual general counsel/ chief compliance officer roles. I moved exclusively into compliance three years ago at Ares Management. Earlier this year, I joined Millennium, a global investment management firm, overseeing its European compliance team. I enjoy navigating the complexities of regulations and laws across Europe. The past few years have been particularly fascinating as the financial services industry in Europe prepares for the uncertainties surrounding Brexit.
What activities do you enjoy outside of work? Foremost, I enjoy spending time with my husband (Shane Cobb ‘93) and our three children. We love traveling together, particularly exploring new countries, cultures and food. Recent highlights have been Japan, Russia and Costa Rica. We also enjoy taking advantage of the theaters and museums in London (the Donmar Theatre is a favorite). One of the unexpected benefits of living in London is frequent visits from friends and family; as a result, living an ocean apart does not seem so isolating. I have been a trustee of the London Children’s Ballet for many years, supporting the charity in its mission to change lives through dance. I am also looking forward to becoming a UVA parent this autumn.
Are you where you expected to be at this stage of your career and life? Absolutely not! While I did not have any preconceived ideas about what my future would be, working in Europe and raising a family there was not at the top of the list. What I never imagined, though, was how much I would enjoy regulatory and compliance work. What historically was considered a “tick the box” role has become businesscritical to financial services firms. Compliance definitely has a seat at the table these days.
What do you like about your life 25 years after law school? I have an amazing family and fantastic job, and I live in a diverse, tolerant and vibrant city. I love the unpredictable way my life has unfolded. It keeps me guessing about what lies ahead over the next 25 years. Who could ask for more than that?