Mary Wood


Maggie Birkel

Maggie Birkel ’18

Deputy Director, Second Look Project
Washington, D.C.

Describe your work: We provide advocacy and legal support for individuals who are seeking relief from extreme sentences they received in the District of Columbia, typically in the 1980s and 1990s. Our work is focused on those who are eligible for sentence reductions for those convicted of crimes committed before the age of 25, and seeking relief under D.C.’s compassionate release laws. We also provide institutional advocacy, training and litigation support for court-appointed and pro bono attorneys handling these cases. In addition to managing my own caseload, I’m also responsible for helping with operation needs, including fundraising, supervising and supporting our staff and law clerks, and working with our executive directors to evaluate our future plans for growth and development.

What activities do you enjoy outside of work? I enjoy reading (especially books from my local public library), running, gardening, traveling, live music and spending time with my friends, family and cat (Chunk) who I adopted from the Charlottesville SPCA during my 3L year. I love being back in my hometown and getting to explore it with my partner, Scott Harman-Heath ’19.

Are you where you expected to be at this stage of your career? Yes and no — I went to law school knowing I wanted to focus on reforming the criminal legal system, but I always thought that would be through traditional pretrial public defense — I wasn’t even aware this type of work was being done! After graduating, I joined Still She Rises in Tulsa, Oklahoma, as a public defender. I somewhat stumbled into the post-conviction sentence reduction space. I love being part of a new, smaller organization and getting to be instrumental in figuring out how we evolve and grow as the work progresses. D.C. is in many ways at the forefront of the second chance movement, and I believe mechanisms like [these] are crucial tools for dismantling mass incarceration across the country.

What do you like about your life 5 years after law school? I feel incredibly privileged to get to work with and for my amazing clients and to see so many of them return home and help make our community a safer, more loving and interesting place. I am fortunate to get to use my law degree in service of others and toward the betterment of my home city. Overall, I feel balanced and supported. This work can be challenging, but doing it surrounded by my family and friends makes it feel sustainable, and I hope to be able to spend many more years doing this work in a city I love so much.


Billy Easley

Billy Easley ’13

Senior Public Policy Lead, Reddit
Washington, D.C.

Describe your work: I am the head of U.S. public policy at Reddit, a social media platform. I keep our product, safety and legal teams aware of state and federal legislation that could impact our users and communities. My favorite parts of the job are when I have the opportunity to meet with lawmakers and explain the unique value of our community moderation and working on cutting-edge internet law issues that have a real-world impact.

What activities do you enjoy outside of work? I was elected last year to a two-year term as an advisory neighborhood commissioner, which means I represent 2,000 people before the D.C. Council and related agencies. I spent years working on Capitol Hill and politics after law school, but I wanted to find a new way to make a difference separate from the toxicity of national politics. I enjoy the work and it keeps me busy!

Are you where you expected to be at this stage of your career and life? If you told me I would be working on internet law and content moderation after graduation, I would’ve given you a blank stare. But I was flexible with my career, and it’s benefited me immensely. By focusing on jobs that fit my principles and taking risks, I’ve been able to be part of amazing projects. This year, I was able to contribute to a Supreme Court brief. I never would’ve thought I would be doing that!

What do you like about your life 10 years after law school? Everything. I have an intellectually fulfilling job that enables me to influence public policy, a wealth of friends and a wonderful husband here in D.C. Life couldn’t be better.


Kristina Yost

Kristina Yost ’08

Partner, Jones Day
New York

Describe your work: I defend companies in high-stakes employment litigation, and counsel clients on compliance with an increasingly complex framework of federal, state and local labor and employment laws. Much of my practice involves defending companies in class-action lawsuits and developing strategies to defeat certification or obtain dismissal of the lawsuits at the earliest possible stage, but my work spans all areas of employment law.

What activities do you enjoy outside of work? I have two daughters who are 4 and 6, so I spend a lot of my time doing different activities with them, like going on family hikes in the North Woods, taking them to music classes or shows, and cooking projects. I also enjoy Pilates and yoga, which are really helpful for my mental health.

Are you where you expected to be at this stage of your career and life? Honestly, I did not come into law school thinking I would be a partner at a major law firm. The only lawyers I interacted with growing up worked in smaller firms, and that is where I expected I would be. I was incredibly fortunate to end up at Jones Day, and once I got a taste of the type of work we do, I couldn’t imagine moving to a smaller market.

What do you like about your life 15 years after law school? I love my work, my family and living in NYC. I like that my work continues to evolve as the workplace and the world around us changes. For example, our work has been directly impacted by #MeToo and George Floyd’s murder. Employers’ focus on workplace diversity and investigations has increased, and there is more litigation involving allegations that companies have fostered environments that allowed pervasive discrimination or harassment to occur. I enjoy advising on and litigating cases involving these types of cutting-edge issues. The work is not only fascinating, challenging and meaningful, but the people I work with are brilliant, down to earth, and incredible lawyers and people. I am also very lucky to have two daughters [and that they] love their school down the street from us on the Upper West Side. And we have access to museums, parks and shows in the city.


Peter Bowden

Peter Bowden ’98

Global Head of Industrial, Energy and Infrastructure Investment Banking, Jeffries

Describe your work: I lead a team of approximately 300 investment bankers across several sectors. As a deal guy, my expertise is principally in energy and my focus is mergers and acquisitions. Most of my time is spent selling private energy companies for financial sponsors, but I have also advised on several of the largest public company mergers in the pipeline sector. More recently, I have invested significant time in energy transition, particularly clean fuels and carbon capture. I also serve on the firm’s operating committee, which has given me direct exposure to the management decisions that have elevated Jefferies from the 17th-ranked investment bank a decade ago to the seventh today. And we’re not stopping there!

What activities do you enjoy outside of work? I have four sons, ages 11 to 17, who are my pride and joy. I love to hunt and fish with my boys. We are also avid skiers. Our family has a cattle ranch in Burton, Texas. I consider myself a weekend cowboy, but my ranch foreman would likely describe me as a desk jockey who occasionally sits on top of a horse. My wife and I split a nice bottle of wine whenever we are able—typically right before opening the second one.

Are you where you expected to be at this stage of your career and life? Hardly. I entered Virginia Law expecting to become a litigator. Instead, I became a transactional attorney before transitioning to investment banking, first at Morgan Stanley and then at Jefferies. While I learned much during my time as a lawyer, the past 20 years of investment banking have felt more like a passion than an avocation. My dad is my role model, and I chose law because he is a lawyer. I expected to practice law for 40-plus years as he did. Instead, I now describe myself as “a fully recovered lawyer.” That said, I attribute a great deal of my professional success to my legal education.

What do you like about your life 15 years after law school? As a workaholic, I would not be happy absent real professional satisfaction. But my happiest moments are with my wife and sons. In many ways my work life is simpler than my home life — I always get out of it what I put into it. But my moments of personal accomplishment — those rare moments when I am a good husband and father — are far more gratifying.

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