The Year in Photos, 2020-21

UVA Law School aerial

Explore the 2020-21 school year at the University of Virginia School of Law.

Year in photos

The return to classes looked different in 2020, as faculty and administrators prepared for a fall semester unlike any other due to COVID-19 precautions. 

Rojai Fentress

Over the summer, the Innocence Project at UVA Law welcomed their client Rojai Fentress to freedom after his release from prison on a conditional pardon.

Christian Diaz-Ritz, Probese Leo, Lauren Murtagh, Samira Nematollahi and Brooke Schafer

The Class of 2023 set new records for gender and racial diversity. Women made up a majority of the first-year class for the first time in the school’s history, and the students were the most racially diverse in a decade.  (Pictured: Class of 2023 members Christian Diaz-Ritz, Probese Leo, Lauren Murtagh, Samira Nematollahi and Brooke Schafer) 

Jennifer McClellan ’97

Virginia Sen. Jennifer McClellan ’97 welcomed the Class of 2023 in her online orientation address.

Libby (Stropko) Baird ’19 and Avery Rasmussen

Libby (Stropko) Baird ’19 will clerk for Justice Amy Coney Barrett at the U.S. Supreme Court during the 2021 term and Avery Rasmussen ’21 will clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh for the 2023 term. A record 109 alumni clerked in courts nationwide during the 2020 term, including 20% of the Class of 2020.

Caplin Pavilion used as a classroom

The Law School adapted event spaces to serve as classrooms to allow for 6-foot distancing. See more photos of life at the school as the year began.

Kunchok Dolma, Cat Guerrier, Maria Luevano and Wilson Miller

Class of 2021 students Kunchok Dolma, Cat Guerrier, Maria Luevano and Wilson Miller were named Ritter Scholars in August.


Alumni generosity continued to support the academic experience at UVA. The University plans to invest $100 million in the study, teaching and promotion of democracy, made possible with a $50 million gift from Martha ’81 and Bruce Karsh ’80 to establish the Karsh Institute of Democracy. Despite disruptions caused by the coronavirus, 47% of alumni gave to the Law School during the 2019-20 annual giving campaign, which concluded June 30.

Clockwise: Payvand Ahdout, Rachel Bayefsky, Jay Butler, Danielle Citron, Mitu Gulati, Craig Konnoth, Kimberly Krawiec, David Law, Joy Milligan and Bertrall Ross.

UVA Law announced the hires of tenured or tenure-track professors (clockwise) Payvand AhdoutRachel BayefskyJay ButlerDanielle CitronMitu GulatiCraig KonnothKimberly KrawiecDavid LawJoy Milligan and Bertrall Ross.

Genesis Moore ’23 and Elaine Jones

UVA Law instituted the Elaine R. Jones ’70 Scholarship in honor of school’s first Black alumna, right, and named Genesis Moore ’23 the inaugural recipient.

Students in Spies Garden

UVA Law remains No. 1 in Best Professors, Best Quality of Life and Best Classroom Experience, according to The Princeton Review’s annual law school rankings, which were released in December.

BLSA and VLW members

As the Black Law Students Association celebrated 50 years at UVA Law, two of the founding members — Bobby Vassar ’72 and Margaret Poles Spencer ’72 — described how it all began and the group’s immediate impact. Virginia Law Women also marked 50 years as Mary Jane McFadden ’74 looked back at how the organization began.

Dan Ortiz in the Supreme Court Litigation Clinic

Clinics adapted and rose to the challenges posed by the pandemic.

Common Law Grounds meeting

Initiatives at UVA Law sought to bridge divides. The Karsh Center for Law and Democracy and the Virginia Bar Association launched a campaign to see what lawyers can do to improve civic engagement and social trust. The student organization Common Law Grounds (pictured on Zoom above), founded after the 2016 election, continued to offer a venue for respectful discussion of issues that divide Americans.

Jehanne McCullough ’21 and Nina Oat ’21

Jehanne McCullough ’21, using American Sign Language, and Nina Oat ’21 successfully argued on behalf of a client before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit for the Appellate Litigation Clinic.

Risa Goluboff

In December, the University appointed Risa Goluboff to a second term as dean of the Law School.

Students build snowman

A January snowfall offered students a reason to get outside and build a snowman.

Clockwise: Michal Barzuza, Quinn Curtis, Cathy Hwang, Frederick Schauer, Ashley Deeks, Jay Butler, Molly Shadel

Faculty scholarship and teaching were awarded or otherwise recognized. (Clockwise) Papers by Michal BarzuzaQuinn Curtis and Cathy Hwang were named among the top 10 corporate and securities articles of 2020 in an annual poll; Frederick Schauer was named a corresponding fellow of the British Academy; Ashley Deeks received the American Law Institute’s Early Career Scholars Medal; incoming professor Jay Butler won the American Journal of International Law’s Francis Deák Prize; and Molly Bishop Shadel taught another class in The Great Courses series. (continued)

Deborah Hellman, Cynthia Nicoletti, Michael Livermore, Craig Konnoth, Bertrall Ross, Kimberly Robinson

(Clockwise) Deborah Hellman won the Association of American Law Schools’ Section on Jurisprudence Article Award; Cynthia Nicoletti won the Supreme Court Historical Society’s Hughes-Gossett Award for Best Journal Article; Michael Livermore was named a fellow at the Intercontinental Academia; incoming professor Craig Konnoth was named a 2024 Greenwall Faculty Scholar; and incoming professor Bertrall Ross was named a Berlin Prize Fellow. Kimberly Jenkins Robinson was elected a member of the American Law Institute, bringing the number of UVA Law faculty affiliated with ALI to 25.

Tiffany Mickel

Tiffany Mickel ’22 was named the first Black editor-in-chief of the Virginia Law Review, in January.

Risa Goluboff and Leslie Kendrick

Common Law,” a podcast sponsored by UVA Law and hosted by Dean Risa Goluboff and Vice Dean Leslie Kendrick ’06, returned for its third season in January with a focus on “Law and Equity.”

Nirajé Medley-Bacon

At UVA Law’s Community MLK Celebration eventNirajé Medley-Bacon ’22 received the Gregory H. Swanson Award, an honor named for UVA and the Law School’s first Black student that recognizes students who demonstrate courage, perseverance and a commitment to justice within the community.

Elisabeth Epps ’11, Toby Heytens ’00, April Nicole Russo ’11, Terrica Ganzy ’02

Elisabeth Epps ’11, Toby Heytens ’00 and April Nicole Russo ’11 were honored for their public service work at the fifth annual Shaping Justice conference in February. Terrica Ganzy ’02 delivered the keynote address.

Purcell Garden aerial

Eleven new academic centers launched at the Law School to serve as hubs for intellectual exchange and faculty research, focusing on law and philosophy, public law and political economy, family law, national security law, the environment and communities, tax law, international and comparative law, criminal justice and the First Amendment.

New books

New books written or edited by Professors Rachel Harmon, Michael Livermore, Paul Stephan ’77 and Mila Versteeg showcased faculty members’ contributions to the law.

Mark Jefferson

Mark C. Jefferson joined the Law School as its first assistant dean for diversity, equity and belonging in March.

Nooreen Reza and Carly Wasserman

Students received a number of fellowships to work in public service. Nooreen Reza ’21 was named the 20th Powell Fellow in Legal Services and winner of Virginia State Bar’s Oliver White Hill Law Student Pro Bono Award. Carly Wasserman ’21 will help schoolchildren facing court fines and fees as UVA Law’s latest Equal Justice Works Fellow.

Grace Tang

Grace Tang ’21 was named this year’s recipient of the Law School’s Rosenbloom Award for enhancing the academic experience of her peers.

Avery Rasmussen ’21 and Matt West ’21

Avery Rasmussen ’21 and Matt West ’21 won the 92nd William Minor Lile Moot Court Competition.

David Goldman ’19, Mariette Peltier

Recent graduates added more accolades to their résumés. David Goldman ’19 will serve as a Bristow Fellow in the Office of the Solicitor General at the U.S. Department of Justice. Mariette Peltier earned the Faculty Award for Academic Excellence by graduating with the highest GPA in the Class of 2020. Nine graduates and alumni will join the Department of Justice as attorneys in the fall through the Attorney General’s Honors Program.

Niko Orfanedes

Niko Orfanedes ’22 began a yearlong term as president of the Student Bar Association on March 26.

Thomas Frampton

Professor Thomas Frampton won a man his freedom — live from the classroom.

Ashley Deeks, Paul Stephan, Caleb Nelson, Bertrall Ross

Faculty lent their expertise through public service. Ashley Deeks was named associate counsel and deputy legal adviser to the National Security Council in the Office of the White House Counsel. Paul Stephan ’77 served as special counsel to the general counsel of the U.S. Department of Defense. President Joe Biden named Caleb Nelson and incoming professor Bertrall Ross to the Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court of the United States. (continued)

Cale Jaffe, Danielle Citron, Sai Prakash, Megan Stevenson

Cale Jaffe ’01 was appointed to the Virginia Coal and Energy Commission. Danielle Citron advised lawmakers on Section 230 reform, and Saikrishna Prakash testified before Congress on Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. Megan S. Stevenson testified before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

Gerald Smith, center, greeted family members

New clinics gave students hands-on experience. The Federal Criminal Sentence Reduction Clinic helped free clients on compassionate release. (Gerald Smith, center, greeted family members after being freed.) Students in the State and Local Government Policy Clinic helped all of their state lawmaker clients, on a bipartisan basis, see their bills through to approval this term.

A. E. Dick Howard ’61

Professor A. E. Dick Howard ’61 reflected on progress made 50 years after he helped draft the state constitution, and participated in a number of events marking the occasion.

NGSL students with Professor Richard Schragger and ReadyKids rep

Annual student fundraisers continued despite the pandemic. In May, students with the North Grounds Softball League raised $15,000 for the Charlottesville nonprofit ReadyKids. The Public Interest Law Association moved its annual auction online in November and raised $20,000 for public service internships.

Natalie Blazer, Kristyn Judkins, Leah Gould

New administrators joined the Law School. Natalie Blazer ’08 was hired as assistant dean for admissions, Kristyn Judkins ’11 returned to North Grounds as a director in the Office of Private Practice, and Leah Gould was named a director of public service.

Jon Cannon

Jonathan Z. Cannon, an influential academic voice in environmental law and a former general counsel for the Environmental Protection Agency, retired from UVA Law in May.

Richard Bonnie ’69 and state Sen. Scott Surovell ’96

Professor Richard Bonnie ’69 and Virginia Sen. Scott Surovell ’96 recalled their roles on working to end capital punishment in Virginia.

Professor Cale Jaffe with community advocates

The Environmental Law and Community Engagement Clinic celebrated a milestone in their client’s fight to preserve a historic African American schoolhouse in June. The school was named to the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s 11 Most Endangered Places for 2021.

Michael Gilbert and Leslie Kendrick

Professor Michael D. Gilbert will serve as the new vice dean of UVA Law starting in July, succeeding Professor Leslie Kendrick ’06, who reflected on her four-year term.

Justice Cleo Powell and graduates

Justice Cleo E. Powell of the Supreme Court of Virginia delivered her commencement address online to the Law School Class of 2021. Graduates participated in an in-person ceremony at Scott Stadium with UVA’s McIntire School of Commerce and Darden School of Business.

Robert Mueller and Aaron Zebley

Robert S. Mueller III ’73 and three former senior members of his team — including Aaron Zebley ’96 — are participating in a class at UVA Law in the fall that will take students inside the special counsel investigation that dominated headlines during the Trump administration.

Montell Brown ’23, Madeleine Hart ’23, Sujaya Rajguru ’22 and Tim Shriver ’22

With the help of a historically high $750,000 in Public Interest Law Association grants, 162 students will work in public service roles this summer. (Pictured: PILA grant recipients Montell Brown ’23, Madeleine Hart ’23, Sujaya Rajguru ’22 and Tim Shriver ’22)