Szeman Lam ’15
Describe your work: Since graduating from UVA Law, I have been working as a finance associate in The Private Credit Group at Proskauer, where I represent direct lenders in both sponsored and nonsponsored transactions, including acquisition financings, refinancings and recapitalizations. In the past year, my work has evolved with the market and has expanded into the bankruptcy and restructuring side as well.
What activities do you enjoy outside of work? I have always been an avid runner, and keeping that as part of my daily routine has been one of my top priorities in maintaining balance as a corporate lawyer. I also love to travel, so I take a big trip every summer in addition to smaller trips throughout the year. (Some would say one of my strengths is making the most out of my vacation days!) Finally, I serve on the board of Boston Explorers, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing a unique summer camp experience for urban youth that combines hands-on activities with spontaneous adventures and explorations across the city, which has been an incredibly meaningful and rewarding experience for me.
Are you where you expected to be at this stage of your career and life? Working in an industry that is at the intersection of law and business was always a goal of mine. My experience at UVA Law, particularly from participating in the Law & Business Program and the Entrepreneurial Law Clinic, prepared me well for that. Having the foundational knowledge and tools to better understand the strategies and concerns of clients on the business side has allowed me not only to advise them from a legal perspective, but also to offer valuable business insight. Overall, my legal career so far has been similar to how I had envisioned it, but life has certainly thrown me some curveballs along the way too.
What do you like about your life 5 years after law school? I feel very lucky to have amazing friends, be close to my family, and be a part of a market-leading practice that is constantly evolving, has so much momentum and has continued to grow at a tremendous pace. I am excited to see where it goes in the coming years.
Fiona R. Moran ’10
Partner, Davis, Polk & Wardwell
Describe your work: I am a partner at Davis Polk, focusing on white-collar defense work. I represent companies and individuals in government investigations and enforcement actions, both criminal and civil. I also represent clients in congressional inquiries and advise on confidential internal investigations and on corporate governance and compliance matters. My work has involved allegations of fraud, violations of anti-bribery laws, insider trading, money laundering, antitrust and other financial crimes.
What activities do you enjoy outside of work? Outside of my career at Davis Polk, my husband, John (also Class of 2010), and I have our hands full raising three children, currently ages 5 and younger. We enjoy keeping up with the kids and living in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, where we are mere steps from countless activities, shops, restaurants, parades and other events.
Are you where you expected to be at this stage of your career and life? Professionally, I always hoped for a career that would leverage my strengths and challenge me consistently. I found that at Davis Polk, where I have worked on high-profile and complex matters alongside an incredibly talented group of attorneys, including many UVA alumni. It has been rewarding and fulfilling. Personally, I always hoped for a big and supportive family. I feel incredibly fortunate on that count as well.
What do you like about your life 10 years after law school? I like that I have so much to look forward to. I made partner at Davis Polk this past year, and I am excited to continue building my practice and growing as an attorney. John and I also welcomed our third child in the last few months, and so I am also excited to raise our kids with the help of extended family in the area. The last decade has been a whirlwind both professionally and personally. I can only hope that the next decade is full of just as much growth, laughter and fulfillment.
Davené Walker ’05
Trial Attorney, U.S. Department of Justice
Describe your work: As a trial attorney with the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice, I defend the United States and its agencies and officers under the Fifth Amendment’s Takings Clause and various statutes, like the Administrative Procedure Act and the National Environmental Policy Act. As with any civil litigation, my docket consists of researching and analyzing novel issues, writing numerous briefs, negotiating with opposing counsel, advising agency counsel, attending depositions and site visits, and appearing in federal courts around the country. I also find it important to take advantage of opportunities to impact my office’s community and culture, so I serve on the hiring, diversity and social committees. Every day brings new challenges, which helps keep me engaged and growing.
What activities do you enjoy outside of work? When I have “free” time, I love to read — even after [having attended] law school! I am actively involved in my church. I also love to travel (especially to new places), volunteer, cook, crochet and watch great television. And one day, I hope to become the next UVA lawyer-turned-novelist.
Are you where you expected to be at this stage of your career and life? Not at all! I never could have predicted landing in environmental litigation or having such a rewarding and challenging career arguing about floods in the desert or the management of wild horses in California. The path my career has taken seems providential. From starting my practice at a big Atlanta firm to clerking for a federal judge, I now have the honor of representing the United States of America. Plus, being from the D.C. area originally, it is great to be home and closer to family and childhood friends.
What do you like about your life 15 years after law school? While my career is important, life is about relationships. I have some amazing friends, mentors and loved ones that have helped shape me into the confident lawyer and thoughtful woman I am today. I like that I am able to do what I love, and feel fulfilled and content. I look forward to seeing what God will do in the next 15 years.
James M. 'Buddy' Robinson ’95
Founder, Newel Capital
Describe your work: Newel Capital is a family office that I have established with my wife, Catherine Rankin Robinson ’95. After serving in general counsel and business development roles for two large multinational companies, one public (Bucyrus International) and one private (Kohler Co.), I decided it was time for my next act. Today I seek to acquire and operate lower-and middle-market companies, focusing primarily on family-owned manufacturing operations in the Midwest. As baby boomers look to retire and downsize, many do not have successors to take over their family businesses. I have been able to step in, finding attractive companies where I can apply my experience in business to deliver outstanding products and services that create and sustain good jobs.
What activities do you enjoy outside of work? Balancing work and family was a challenge at multinationals. I spent at least 12 weeks a year traveling, mostly overseas. I missed a lot of sports, school and other family activities. My new career allows me more flexibility to be present, doing the things we love — skiing, travel, theater, hunting and fishing.
Are you where you expected to be at this stage of your career and life? I’m not sure what I expected, but it wasn’t finding a hidden gem in Milwaukee. Early in my career I was given two pieces of advice: 1) you can do anything with a law degree and 2) raise your hand for the jobs no one else wants to do. When I got out of law school, I took a U.S. 10th Circuit clerkship, spent a few years at a law firm and then moved in-house. Once in-house, I took any and all assignments, which resulted in Catherine and me moving from D.C. to Tampa, San Antonio, New York and Milwaukee. Along the way, I applied for telecoms licenses in Saudi Arabia, bought a pottery plant in the middle of a Brazilian banana plantation, launched retail stores in India and undertook countless other projects I couldn’t have imagined.
What do you like about your life 25 years after law school? What I like most about my life is the same thing I liked most when I finished law school — the fantastic partnership I have with Catherine, whom I met walking up Massie Road during our first year at UVA Law. It certainly hasn’t been a straight path or without challenges, but our family life and adventures mean everything to me.