Meet the Graduates

Meet the Graduates

Members of the Class of 2016 talk about their experiences at Virginia Law

 
Bradley Alvarez

Bradley Alvarez '16


Hometown: Ross, California

Who I was then:  I graduated from Harvard in 2011 with an A.B. in government. After graduating, I spent two years as an investment banking analyst at Credit Suisse in New York City.

Amazing law school class: I was shocked to figure out that my favorite classes in law school were tax classes. I never had an interest in practicing tax law but I decided to take a tax class in the second semester of my 1L year in order to diversify my course load. Professor Andrew Hayashi hooked me on the subject and I took two other tax classes after Federal Income Tax.

Outside of class: When I entered law school I decided to limit the number of extracurricular activities I participated in, so that I could focus on my course work. After my first year I decided to try out for the Libel Show and that became a large portion of my law school experience. I also spent a lot of time playing softball with my friends on various teams and playing golf on the courses around Charlottesville.

Favorite outing/activity to unwind: Hiking in the Shenandoah National Park. 

Noteworthy summer job: I spent my first summer working as an investment analyst at a startup in San Francisco called Generate Capital. My job entailed analyzing investment opportunities and presenting them to the team as well as originating deal flow with potential partners. While I did not do much legal work, the job gave me the opportunity to understand the inner workings of an early-stage startup. 

What's next: I will be working for Latham & Watkins LLP in Menlo Park, California. I hope to focus on mergers and acquisitions in my practice. 

Who I am now: Coming in to law school I had a very good idea of the type of work that I wanted to do after graduation. That goal did not change throughout school, but the classes I took helped define the goal more. The Law and Business Program at UVA allowed me to view certain courses from a transactional approach and enhanced my understanding of what corporate practice will entail. I am very excited to see how my legal career advances in the coming months and years. 

What you should know about Virginia Law: Everything that you hear alumni say about their time at Virginia Law is true. I loved my time here in Charlottesville because of the collegial atmosphere that the school upholds. Not only did I learn a lot, but I had fun while doing it.

 
Tyler Badgley

Tyler Badgley '16


Hometown: Devon, Pennsylvania

Who I was then: I graduated from the University of Virginia in 2011, majoring in economics and government. After that, I spent two years as a legislative staffer focusing on budget and tax policy for a U.S. senator in Washington, D.C. Getting to be a part of the legislative process, and constantly surrounded by lawyers from co-workers to lobbyists to senators really piqued my interest in law school.

Amazing law school class: This is simply an impossible question if I’m expected to narrow my list at all. One thing you’ll notice at UVA law is that any class can be amazing because of the incredible faculty we have. Naming any single class or professor does a disservice to the other wonderful experiences I’ve had at UVA Law, but a brief and non-comprehensive list would have to include Professor Michael Gilbert’s Legislation and Professor Caleb Nelson’s Federal Courts. Both are classes taught by incredibly engaging and knowledgeable professors who sincerely care about the student’s understanding, and the subject matter will certainly prove valuable moving forward (and already has in clinical work and summer employment).

Outside of class: I served as an articles editor for the Virginia Law Review and a board member for the William Minor Lile Moot Court Competition, developing the problem that would be used in the finals and semifinals of the competition. Additionally, I was a part of the Federalist Society, the Virginia Law and Business Society, and Alternative Spring Break — a great opportunity to get deeply involved with a pro bono project in a short period of time. I also served as a resident advisor for the undergraduates in dorms right across the street from the law school, which was a nice opportunity to interact with non-law students.

Favorite outing/activity to unwind: There are so many incredible hikes in and around Charlottesville, so you definitely have to make sure to explore the surrounding area in your time here. Even if you’re not outdoorsy, the short hike up humpback rock can really lend perspective, especially when you can leave behind any of the stresses of law school (plus you can hit a winery, or two, on the way back). I also regularly play racquetball at the North Grounds gym, a great way to relieve some stress and unwind.

Noteworthy summer job: My 1L summer I had the opportunity to split my summer and work for two firms. I was with Duane Morris in Philadelphia, the headquarters of a large firm, and Ivins, Phillips & Barker in Washington, D.C., a small tax boutique. It was an incredible opportunity to see the dynamics of large and small firms, experience two different cities’ legal markets, and determine whether tax law was what I wanted to practice. I spent my 2L summer doing largely litigation, particularly appellate, work at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP in D.C. Each experience was very different, despite all being firms, and really helped me develop what I was looking for in my future practice.

What's next: I will be taking the New York bar in July. In August, I am moving to Houston, Texas, for a year to clerk on the Fifth Circuit. After clerking, I intend to return to D.C. 

Who I am now: One thing that really stuck out during the OGI and callback process was just [on] how many paths a legal career can take you, and how non-linear those paths often are. I know that UVA Law has provided the opportunities, education, experiences, resources and, probably most importantly, relationships that will allow me to embrace whatever twists and turns may exist in my own career. I graduate far more comfortable with the uncertainty that exists in how I get from A to B in my life and career.

What you should know about Virginia Law: UVA is a community in every sense of the word, and that community exists and extends far beyond your three years in Charlottesville. The relationships you form here with your classmates, professors, and others in the community will be one of the most valuable parts of your experience both personally and professionally. At UVA you are surrounded by brilliant classmates who are always willing to lend a hand and professors who are here because they love to teach and support their students’ development. When you come to UVA, don’t feel trapped in the library; get out, meet your classmates, meet your professors, and develop relationships that you will value throughout your life and career. 

 
Matthew Colson

Matthew Colson '16


Hometown: Salt Lake City, Utah

Who I was then: I graduated from the University of Utah with a degree in English and a minor in political science. I worked for a small law firm in the year prior to attending UVA.

Amazing law school class: My favorite class was Trial Advocacy taught by Chris Kavanaugh who is an assistant U.S. attorney. The class was practical, challenging and enjoyable. Legislation with Professor Michael Gilbert was an excellent class and has already helped me with my legal work. I enjoyed a wide variety of classes from Environmental Law with Professor Jonathan Cannon to Religious Liberty with Professor Douglas Laycock.

Outside of class: I was an executive editor for the Virginia Journal of Social Policy and the Law. I was an activities director and secretary for the Rex. E. Lee Law Society. During my final semester, I conducted two bench trials while working in the Criminal Defense Clinic.

Favorite outing/activity to unwind: First year there are lots of fun activities including playing softball with your section. Netflix is a great way to unwind. I watched a lot of Parks and Rec and The West Wing. Charlottesville has great nature trails that make taking a quick hike convenient and relaxing. Also, Charlottesville has plenty of excellent restaurants.

Noteworthy summer job: When I applied to law school I would not have expected to have such interesting internships. I spent my first summer in the national security section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington D.C. I worked on a case involving international terrorism. I also assisted a trial team on a multi-defendant trial. I learned a lot from being in federal court and watching high-level trial practice. During my second summer, I worked at the DOJ in the Human Rights Special Prosecutions section. I enjoyed working on complex issues of international and domestic law.

What’s next: I plan to work for the federal government as an honors attorney with the National Security Administration's Office of General Counsel.

Who I am now: Law school and my internships have expanded my view of the world. I handle challenges in a more systematic way and try to see issues from various viewpoints. I am now a more confident advocate, a more nuanced analyst and a more critical thinker. On a personal note, I got married during my third year and got a dog.

What you should know about Virginia Law: I came for admitted students’ weekend and immediately felt at home in Charlottesville and at UVA. The Law School has great professors and advisors who are committed to the students and passionate about their work. During my time at UVA, the other students have impressed me with their intelligence, respect, humor and kindness. Law school will have challenges, but UVA has a supportive community that will help you get where you want to go.

 
Willim Jordan

William Jordan '16


Hometown: Brevard, North Carolina

Who I was then: I graduated from Yale University in 2013 with a major in history.

Amazing law school class: It's difficult to narrow this down to one or two favorite classes — I've thoroughly enjoyed all of my classes here. Contracts, which I had my 1L fall with Professor Jason Johnston, pushed me to approach problems in a new way, and it made me excited about the value transactional lawyers can give to their clients. Legislation, with Professor Caleb Nelson, was another formative class. It taught me how to read legal language, and how often ambiguities can be found.

Outside of class: I was an articles editor for the Virginia Law Review, which involved helping select the articles we published and then working with the authors to edit them. I was also a member of the Virginia Tax Review and the North Grounds Softball League.

Favorite outing/activity to unwind: I always enjoyed being outside — whether it was running on the Rivanna Trail behind the Law School, hiking near Charlottesville, or sitting outside at a local brewery or winery. Of course, I also spent a lot of time with friends, hanging out at houses or on The Corner.

Noteworthy summer job: After my 2L year, I worked at King & Spalding in Atlanta and Bradley Arant Boult Cummings in Birmingham, where I had also worked after my 1L year. I was able to try a variety of transactional work — including mergers and acquisitions, securities and real estate. A couple of the highlights of the summer were seeing attorneys on the NASDAQ video screen in Times Square after a successful IPO on which I had helped, and talking to a client selling a business his family had owned for generations.

What's next: In June, I will begin a one year clerkship for Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III, who sits on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. His chambers are in Charlottesville, so I get to enjoy another year here.

Who I am now: The past three years have been challenging and incredibly rewarding. UVA Law taught me how to think through issues in a new way, and I'm excited to use the skills I've learned here as I start my career. I am also graduating with an amazing group of people who have become some of my closest friends.

What you should know about Virginia LawWhen I was starting law school, I was a little apprehensive — I'd heard that law students were cutthroat and that law school was a grind. None of that is true here. The UVA community is incredible, whether it is in friendly competition on the softball field or helping classmates understand difficult concepts while studying for finals. UVA is truly a place where you can get a first-rate legal education from some of the best legal minds in the country, all while making lifelong friends and having a great time.

 
Sarah Pelham

Sarah Pelham '16


Hometown Fredericksburg, Virginia

Who I was then: I graduated from Virginia Tech in 2013 with a degree in philosophy. After deciding sophomore year of college that I wanted to apply to law school, I made a few trips to visit Charlottesville. I was thrilled about the prospect of staying in Virginia for law school, and I had my heart set on UVA Law after meeting with Admissions and walking around Grounds. I came straight through from Virginia Tech, which makes me a Hokie-Hoo.

Amazing law school class: I took two seminars with Mark Langlet: Social Work of Law and Poverty in Law. These classes were a unique insight into social problems relevant to all Americans, but especially to those who have the resources or ability to fix them. We had several honest class discussions about the role of lawyers in effecting societal change. I also took a class on K-12 education with Mildred Robinson, which was eye-opening in terms of the way law shapes education and how schools struggle to provide adequate resources to students at a critical point in their lives. Lastly, I was in a great short course called Management of BigLaw Firms, taught by my partner mentor, Art Robinson. We discussed the moral economy inherent in law firm compensation, and the class challenged me to consider how professional relationships and communication are instrumental in encouraging profitable behavior.

Outside of class: I was a Peer Advisor, which was a rewarding way to give back and communicate to incoming 1L’s the things I thought would have been useful to know when I was in their shoes. I also did pro bono work for Rappahannock Legal Services when I was home for break, and I found the opportunity to work with low-income families to be revealing of the justice system’s successes and failures.

Favorite outing/activity to unwind: Being outside – whether that’s hiking in the mountains, running the Rivanna Trail or sipping wine at nearby vineyards. One of my favorite things about Charlottesville is its proximity to Shenandoah National Park, and there’s nothing quite like watching the sunrise over the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Another great thing about Charlottesville is the abundance of everything local. Making it to the farmers’ market on Saturday mornings for fresh flowers and food was so worth getting up early. C’ville also has plenty of quirky little coffee shops where I would go to study or just settle in to read a good book. The food scene here is very much farm-to-table, and this charming mountain town offers an impressive restaurant selection with anything from BBQ to tapas. The city is dedicated to the arts, and I enjoyed going to the Downtown Mall to hear live music or check out local boutiques and bookstores. A hobby I’ve had since high school is taking pictures since it encourages me to approach things I see with a new perspective, and there is no shortage of beautiful mountain views to explore or subjects to photograph here.

Noteworthy summer job: I split my 1L summer between Balch & Bingham in Birmingham, Alabama, and a judge at the Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C. I spent my 2L summer at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett in New York City.

What's next: I will be returning to Simpson Thacher in the fall, where I will be rotating through the corporate practice groups before picking a permanent group.

Who I am now: I look forward to taking the next step and applying the skills I have learned here in my career as a lawyer and beyond. I am excited about situations that encourage me to step outside of my comfort zone, realizing how fulfilling it is do things that challenge me because those are the biggest opportunities for growth. I also made a conscious effort to keep up with the people and things that were important to me outside of law school. Finding that balance has helped me to prioritize what I value and make the most of my time here, something I hope to carry with me into the future.

UVA Law is a place where you will learn how to think like a lawyer and make lifelong friends. You will be surrounded by plenty of people that are smarter than you, which is something to appreciate. I have learned as much from my peers as I have from my classes. Law school will equip you with an education that will translate into a useful background for any career field. If you come in open to learning new things, you will find an environment that is both challenging and rewarding.

 
Virginia Selden

Virginia Selden '16


Hometown: Birmingham, Alabama

Who I was then: I graduated from Dartmouth College in 2011, majoring in environmental studies and English. I thought that I might want to pursue environmental law but decided to take some time off and make sure that law school was the right decision. I worked as a paralegal at a law firm in New York City, enjoyed the work, and decided to go for it. I have always loved Charlottesville and had heard amazing things about the UVA Law community, so coming to UVA Law was an easy choice for me. 

Amazing law school class: I was fortunate to be in Professor (and incoming Dean) Risa Goluboff's Constitutional Law class my 1L year and took several other classes with her throughout law school. Professor Goluboff is an incredible teacher and I left every class feeling like I had learned something about con law, legal history and how to be a better law student. I found Professor Leslie Ashbrook's Advanced Legal Research class to be particularly helpful as a summer associate. Lastly, I took Professor Jonathan Cannon's fantastic Literature, Law and the Environment course in the spring of my third year. It combined a number of my interests and was a fun way to wrap up my time in law school. 

Outside of class: I was lucky to be very involved with the Peer Advisor Program as both a 2L P.A. and as a co-director of the program my third year. I was also a member of the Virginia Environmental Law Forum for three years and coordinated the Virginia Environmental Law Journal's annual symposium as the journal's senior research and projects editor.

Favorite outing/activity to unwind: To unwind, I like to spend as much time as I can with friends outside of the library. Charlottesville is a great town and we've enjoyed exploring it in our spare time. After three years here, I've done a good bit of research into the local restaurant scene, nearby vineyards and hikes in the surrounding area with a great group of people.

Noteworthy summer job: I split my 1L summer between Birmingham, Alabama, and Washington, D.C. I was a summer associate at Burr & Forman and a law clerk at the Department of Justice's Environment and Natural Resources Division, Environmental Crimes Section. At the DOJ, I got to work on a variety of cases related to environmental crimes, such as poaching and trafficking. It was a fascinating way to spend the summer. As a 2L summer associate at Choate, Hall & Stewart, I worked on a pro bono immigration case involving an asylum applicant. It was a challenging and rewarding experience that motivated me to get involved with UVA's Immigration Law Clinic as a 3L. 

What's next: I'm delaying my departure from Charlottesville for a few months while I study for the bar exam this summer, but am excited to be moving up to Boston to start as an associate at Choate, Hall & Stewart in the fall.

Who I am now: Law school changed the way that I think. I approach problems differently and feel prepared to join the legal community after graduation. More importantly, I have pushed myself to speak up in class, taken challenging courses, become involved with organizations that I care about, and met life-long friends. 

What you should know about Virginia Law: There's no better place to be a law student, and I feel exceedingly lucky to have spent three years here. I came here knowing that UVA Law would provide me with a great legal education and hoped that it would live up to its "collegial" reputation. It has exceeded all expectations. The students, faculty and staff at UVA are brilliant and supportive people who genuinely care about the community and make it easy to love this place. I will remember my time at UVA fondly and am looking forward to keeping in touch with this amazing law school community throughout my legal career.

 
Hillary Taylor

Hillary Taylor '16


Hometown: Apple Valley, Minnesota

Who I was then: I lived and worked in the Twin Cities, and graduated from a small private school in Pensacola, Florida, with a B.A. in political science. Going to law school was almost considered a pipe dream, simply because no one had gone that far in their education in the community where I was from. In between college and law school, I balanced two to three jobs, studying for the LSAT and saving money, while working in community outreach. Working directly with people and their needs in my educational and occupational positions truly helped prepare me for law school and the legal profession.

Amazing law school class: There are so many to choose from! My favorite class from my 1L year was Constitutional Law with Frederick Schauer, one of the most distinguished professors and scholars on the subject. It was fascinating to go in depth on fundamental rights and protections, and discuss the rationale behind them. Professor Schauer masterfully moderated class participation and discussions on controversial topics, and stimulated a deeper understanding for students on each side of a debate.

Outside of class: Outside of class I was very involved in on-Grounds organizations and activities. With organizations, I was the chair of Lambda Law Alliance, the LGBTQ and ally student organization, a Dillard Fellow (selected to assist in legal research and writing instruction), a two-time Peer Advisor over Section H (2014-2015) and Section I (2015-2016), a member of the Black Law Students Association, and on the managing editorial board for the Journal of Law & Politics. I also kept busy by assisting Admissions with outreach to prospective students, and building my practical legal skills through pro bono projects. When I wasn't busy with all of the above, you could usually find me working at our amazing Law Library!

Favorite outing/activity to unwind: I absolutely love going to bookstores and browsing through my favorite genres for new finds! One of the best things about living near the Law School is that Barnes & Noble is within walking distance. If I’m not in my bookstore “happy place,” I’m relaxing at home with a good Netflix show.

Noteworthy summer job: I was a summer associate my 2L year at the firm Maslon, LLP back home in Minneapolis. I loved working in a regional firm that did challenging, high level work in a wide variety of practices. It provided me a great experience to hone my legal research and writing skills, work with great lawyers, and further develop a passion for litigation.

What's next: After I take the Minnesota Bar, I will return to Maslon, LLP in the fall as a litigation associate.

Who I am now: I’m incredibly grateful for all of the opportunities I’ve received from attending UVA Law. As a first-generation graduate/professional school student, I came into law school as someone eager to learn and excel with no personal ties to the legal profession. Law school was a huge challenge! And I’m appreciative for my foundation and what I’ve learned about the legal profession here. Now I find myself thinking, speaking and analyzing things differently than I once did. I’m confident that UVA Law has well-equipped me for life as a lawyer.

What you should know about Virginia Law: A great part of UVA and C'ville is the strength of its community, which I think is grounded in the welcoming of diverse voices and backgrounds. You get to tailor your experience here based on what’s important to you! I have been impressed with the number of opportunities for students to get involved in a number of outreaches, including the ability to hold leadership positions or to create a large movement.

 
Megan Lisa Watkins

Megan Lisa Watkins '16


Hometown: Baltimore, Maryland

Who I was then: I graduated from Davidson College in 2010 with a major in history and a minor in Spanish. After Davidson, I taught high school Spanish for three years as a Teach For America member in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Amazing law school class: It is truly hard to select just one class. If you had asked me my first year I honestly would not have been able to choose just one course. I really jumped into law school with a very limited knowledge base and loved that the first year curriculum was so diverse. Since then I would have to say my favorite courses were my two clinics, the Child Advocacy Clinic and Health Law Clinic. Clinical courses provide invaluable experiences working directly with clients. In these courses your deadlines aren’t arbitrarily chosen, they are based on the sometimes urgent needs of the client. And your work product isn’t just for practice — briefs are submitted to real judges, demand letters are sent to opposing counsel. Your work truly matters to your clients. 

Outside of class: I came to law school knowing I would pursue a career in public service, as many of my extracurricular activities have been connected to this passion. I am a participant in the Law and Public Service Program. I served as a fundraising director for the Public Interest Law Association and as an article editor for the Virginia Journal of Criminal Law. I also interned with the Federal Public Defender’s Office for the Western District of Virginia during the spring of my 3L year and volunteered with the JustChildren programs at the Legal Aid Justice Center my first and second years.

Favorite outing/activity to unwind: I have two great dogs, a people-loving Old English Bulldog and a very active German Shepherd. I love taking them for long walks and exploring the trails around Charlottesville. There is a great trail at Observatory Hill where they can roam off leash, and on great days you can find us there with my husband enjoying the outdoors.

Noteworthy summer job: I loved both of my summer internships, each for different reasons. My first year I interned with the JustChildren Program, where I confirmed my passion for child advocacy and worked with the most inspiring attorneys. My second summer I worked in the Charlottesville-Albemarle Public Defenders Office, where I was able to put my third-year practice certificate to use in court. I was able to participate in a jury trial in Charlottesville Circuit Court and handled my own cases in the local general district courts. That summer representing clients in court I felt like a baby lawyer, and it was pretty amazing.

What's next: After graduation, I will be working at the Legal Aid Justice Center in Richmond as a Powell Fellow. I will provide direct representation, outreach and community education to enforce the educational rights of youth in the Greater Richmond area who have experienced trauma and are at risk of entering the juvenile justice system.

Who I am now: Someone with a deeper passion than ever to impact positive change for young people in this nation. As a former teacher in a high-needs school I came to law school to attack the achievement gap from a different angle. Law school has strengthened my awareness of the complexities of the achievement gap and its relationship to the school to prison pipeline. I am excited to start my career at JustChildren working directly with young people on these issues.

What you should know about Virginia Law: Virginia Law is a place where students matter. They matter to their professors, they matter to the staff, and they matter to each other. The law school is also plugged into the local community and a great place to put what you learn in class into action.