Explore the milestones and achievements of the 2017-18 school year at the University of Virginia School of Law.
The Student Affairs Office launched a new community-building program for first-year students that emphasizes working together across differences. The orientation also included a variety of team-building activities.
Members of the Class of 2020 started their legal careers and looked forward to building a tight-knit community as they headed into the classroom. “We chose each and every one of you to be here for your whole selves, who you are, and all the different ways that you exist in the world,” Dean Risa Goluboff told them.
In national law school rankings, UVA Law was ranked No. 1 in best professors and best quality of life, No. 2 in best classroom experience and No. 6 for best career prospects by The Princeton Review; No. 2 overall by Above the Law; No. 4 in Supreme Court clerkships; and No. 4 in jobs at top law firms.
UVA Law tied for second in the number of lawyers from an organization arguing before the U.S. Supreme Court this term, excluding the U.S. Office of the Solicitor General, and was first among law schools.
Some familiar faces returned to UVA Law. Program in Law and Public Service Director Crystal Shin ’10, legal historian Farah Peterson and health law expert Dayna Bowen Matthew ’87 joined the faculty. Amy Wharton succeeded Taylor Fitchett as director of the Arthur J. Morris Law Library. Melody Barnes, a former White House Domestic Policy Council director, joined as a distinguished fellow. Elizabeth L. Kade ’11 returned as director of career services, and Ashley Claffee Merritt ’15 as director of admissions.
UVA Law launched the new Virginia Public Service Scholarship for students who aspire to serve others by pursuing careers in public service. The scholarship provides full tuition to two or more first-year law students. Suzanne Deuster ’20 and Manal Cheema ’20 were the first recipients.
Among students and faculty making a difference in the public interest were Jonathan Babcock ’18 and Keyawna Griffith ’18 (above), who successfully convinced a judge to release on bond a client facing deportation. The UVA Law Library and students collaborated with Professor Brandon Garrett on a new website that uses a data-driven, interactive map to illustrate the rapid decline of the death penalty. The Virginia Criminal Justice Policy Reform Project’s first-of-its-kind survey of state judges found wide discrepancies in alternative sentencing for low-risk offenders. Professor Richard Bonnie ’69 released a preliminary report urging Virginia’s state legislators to prioritize community mental health services.
Dean Risa Goluboff’s new book, “Vagrant Nation: Police Power, Constitutional Change and the Making of the 1960s,” won this year’s Littleton-Griswold Prize, Lillian Smith Book Award, David J. Langum, Sr. Prize in American Legal History and John Phillip Reid Book Award. Professor Brandon Garrett published “End of Its Rope: How Killing the Death Penalty Can Revive Criminal Justice. Professor Cynthia Nicoletti published “Secession on Trial: The Treason Prosecution of Jefferson Davis.”
UVA and the Law School honored the legacy of Gregory Swanson with a ceremony that recognized his significance as the University’s first black student and revealed Swanson’s official Law School portrait. Also at the event, Jah Akande ’19 and Toccara Nelson ’19 won the inaugural Gregory H. Swanson Award. The honor recognizes students with traits that Swanson embodied, including a commitment to justice within the community.
Adam Sorensen ’17 was named one of four Bristow Fellows in the Office of the Solicitor General in the U.S. Department of Justice. As a Bristow Fellow, Sorensen will help attorneys draft briefs in Supreme Court cases and prepare for oral arguments there.
Other recent graduates notched notable achievements: Jay Swanson ’18 and Jennifer Davidson ’18 won the 89th William Minor Lile Moot Court Competition; Florian Knerr LL.M. ’14 will take part in the International Court of Justice University Traineeship Program as a UVA Law World Court Fellow; Ashley Finger ’18 served as rapporteur to the Salzburg Global Seminar in Austria; and Mauricio Guim S.J.D. ’18 will join the faculty at Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México.
Three alumni were honored at this year’s Shaping Justice Conference, including Jeffrey Kerr ’87, general counsel of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals Foundation; Jeree Thomas ’11 of Campaign for Youth; and Kim Rolla ’13 of the Legal Aid Justice Center. Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, delivered the keynote address.
Among faculty honors, four professors — Dean Risa Goluboff, Vice Dean Leslie Kendrick ’06, and professors Julia Mahoney and Saikrishna Prakash — were elected to the American Law Institute. Professor Paul G. Mahoney was appointed to the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Investor Advisory Committee. The International Bureau of Fiscal Documentation, based in Amsterdam, named Ruth Mason its 2018 professor in residence. A. Benjamin Spencer was named chair of the British Marshall Scholarship Selection Committee for the D.C. region. Goluboff was also elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Outside the classroom, the Libel Show in its 110th year lampooned life at UVA Law with “Libel’s Angels,” above, and the annual North Grounds Softball League Invitational raised $22,500 for charity. Photo by Eric Hall
UVA Law hosted several symposia and conferences, tackling issues ranging from immigration and the environment to forensic evidence and Loving v. Virginia.
Martha Karsh ’81 and Bruce Karsh ’80, philanthropists who met at UVA as law students, announced at a celebratory dinner in May that they will donate $43.9 million to the Law School. The gift is the largest in the school’s history and makes the Karshes the institution’s first $50 million donors.