4 in the Class of 2006
This year's graduation awards honored a number of outstanding law students-including Tim Lovelace, Sarah Conant, Lindsay Buchanan, and David F. Reid.
Thomas Marshall Miller Prize
Hometown : Roanoke, VA
Education : B.A. in Government, University of Virginia, 2003
Why you wanted to be a lawyer : One of my childhood heroes was Thurgood Marshall, and as I learned more about the legal campaign for civil rights, I became increasingly captivated by stories of crusading civil rights lawyers and their deep dedication to social engineering. I hoped that by becoming a lawyer, I could inherit a small portion of this towering legacy.
Favorite law school experience : I truly enjoyed the spirited debates that occurred almost daily during the past school year in the Black Law Student Association (BLSA) office. Students routinely engaged a variety of contemporary and historical issues and discussed the topics from an exceptionally wide range of political viewpoints. These conversations not only supplemented my classroom experiences, but also enriched my law school career.
Scholarly interests/specialties : Legal and African-American history.
Favorite class : Professor Risa Goluboff's Civil Rights History from Plessy to Brown seminar really challenged me to think critically and reevaluate the dominant civil rights narrative. Her class was inspiring and has helped me to begin thinking about my history dissertation.
Best learning experience? The students in Professor Goluboff's seminar were amazing. The students interrogated the readings and the assumptions underlying the legal doctrine, and their efforts made the learning experience truly memorable.
Future plans : I will enter the History Ph.D. program at UVA in the fall and study legal and African-American history. I will also serve as the Assistant Director of the Center for the Study of Race and Law for the upcoming school year.
Best summer experience : Last summer I worked at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill School of Government. The School of Government seeks to improve the lives of North Carolinians by providing state and local government officials with nonpartisan legal, financial, and administrative expertise. My experiences there reaffirmed my commitment to public service and sparked my interest in becoming a scholar.
What you wish you could do over : I learned a tremendous amount during the spring semester about human rights and international judicial bodies. I only wish that I would have explored this area of the law before my last semester of law school.
Favorite spot on Grounds : The gardens on the East Lawn.
Favorite spot off Grounds? Christian's Pizzeria
I knew I wanted to go to Virginia when : I realized how much I loved the University. The Law School's blend of collegiality and academic rigor is remarkable.
Advice for entering students : Find your passion and live purposefully. UVA Law offers students a wealth of opportunities, so seize the day.
Education : B.A. in Animal Behavior and Philosophy (double major) from Bucknell University
Why you wanted to be a lawyer : My interest in animals led me to studying animal behavior as an undergraduate. Initially, I was interested in pursuing a scientific career in research that could be applied to improve the quality of life for animals both in the wild and in captivity. Unfortunately, I was somewhat discouraged by the lack of concern for welfare held by many in the scientific community. I decided that pursuing scientific research would not be the best way I could advocate on behalf of animals regarding issues that are largely a matter of policy. I realized that if my goal was to improve conditions for animals, then perhaps a career in law, rather than science, was the most effective path.
Favorite law school experience : My favorite experience was starting a new student organization, the Virginia Animal Law Society. Since I have a strong personal interest in animal protection issues, it was highly rewarding to be able to bring together other law students interested in this emerging area of the law. Now that I have graduated, I am happy knowing that VALS will continue to introduce law students to the legal issues affecting animals.
Scholarly interests/specialties : Animal law
Favorite class : Legislative drafting and lobbying
Best learning experience? Environmental law clinic
Activities at the Law School : Virginia Animal Law Society (President), PILA (Auction Director), Conference on Public Service and the Law (Manager), Virginia Journal of Social Policy & the Law (Editorial Board)
Future plans : Litigation Fellow for The Humane Society of the United States, Animal Protection Litigation Section, in Washington D.C.
Best summer experience : I really enjoyed being a summer research assistant for Professor Cannon. It was a great way to gain insight into the field of environmental law while working in a relatively laid-back atmosphere here in Charlottesville. But my best experience would have to be working as a law clerk for The Humane Society of the United States, because it gave me the opportunity work in the field of animal law and to use my legal skills to advocate on behalf of animals.
What you wish you could do over : I wish I had been more involved with pro bono work as a first-year law student. My first year I felt overwhelmed by the law school experience and doubted whether I had developed the skills that I would need to be helpful. Since then, I have been inspired by the stories of pro bono work that other first year students have been involved with, especially through organizations like the Public Interest Law Association (PILA). I wish I had known this my first year and taken advantage of more of the pro bono opportunities offered by the Public Service Center and student organizations.
Favorite spot on Grounds : Spies Garden
Favorite spot off Grounds? My favorite place to go to take a break from law school life was Huckleberry Hill Farm in Earlysville, where I kept my two horses, Danny and Jack. Spending a few hours a day at the barn was the perfect way to unwind.
I knew I wanted to go to Virginia when : I first came to visit the school. I was impressed by the law school, and fell in love with the city of Charlottesville.
Advice for entering students : Get involved with activities at the law school early, and don't be afraid to explore areas in which you have no previous experience.
Education : Undergrad, Vanderbilt University
Why you wanted to be a lawyer : It seemed like a unique job that combined scholarship with real world practicality.
Favorite law school experience : Working with the other talented members of the Managing Board of the Virginia Law Review. I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work closely with such a remarkable group of people.
Scholarly interests/specialties : Property and commercial law
Favorite class : Property with Professor BeVier
Best learning experience? Working as an Executive Editor for the Virginia Law Review . By constantly working with interesting legal scholarship and by being in contact with the accomplished authors of the pieces, I tremendously improved my own writing abilities.
Activities at the Law School : Virginia Law Review, Federalist Society
Future plans : Working for Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLC in Atlanta, GA, in the Real Estate group.
Best summer experience : My most memorable experience was when a judge adopted a large portion of the proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law that I had assisted in preparing in an employment case (involving the Family and Medical Leave Act) the summer after my first year. I appreciated the "real" work that the attorney let me do, and it was very gratifying to see my work have an impact in an actual case for the first time.
What you wish you could do over : Very little. I feel that I made the most out of my time in Charlottesville. I received an excellent education, I was happy with all of my class selections, and I made some wonderful friends.
Favorite spot on Grounds : Hard to say.
Favorite spot off Grounds? Shenandoah National Park, where I asked my wife to marry me.
I knew I wanted to go to Virginia when : It was so highly recommended to me by a friend from my undergraduate years at Vanderbilt who was a year ahead of me at Virginia.
Advice for entering students : Make the most of this wonderful opportunity. It is an honor and a privilege to be able to attend Virginia, to interact and learn from the Law School's professors, and to work and study with so many talented people. Remind yourself what a privilege it is every day, and I'm sure that your three years will be as rewarding as mine were.
Education : B.A., Kenyon College, English/Creative Writing, 1997; M.A., Yale University, American Studies, 1998
Why you wanted to be a lawyer : It's hard to put my finger on one reason. I was a teacher for several years before I came to law school, and I knew that I would enjoy being a student again. I just wasn't ready to settle down and choose one career path, and I wanted to do something that would allow me to have several different careers, or at least advance through many different avenues. Law seemed like it would open up a lot of different opportunities in politics and policy and teaching and research, in addition to all the many different things a lawyer could do with the government or in a firm. Really good teachers got a sense of satisfaction and achievement in preparing students to go out in the world and do great things, and I just started to feel left behind. I decided one year to go with them. My family was very supportive of the switch.
Favorite law school experience : Finishing our Property exam first year, which was our last exam of the year. It was an absolutely beautiful spring afternoon, the entire first-year class finished at the same time, and the First-Year Council had arranged for pizza to be delivered to Spies Garden. As I reveled in the courtyard among my friends and classmates, sharing in the collective relief, I thought, not only have I just put the hardest academic year of my life behind me, but I have two more years to enjoy this amazing place and these terrific people. What luck!
Scholarly interests/specialties : I'm still figuring that out; I've focused on employment law and criminal law in school.
Favorite class : I've really enjoyed all my classes in law school and all my professors, but Criminal Investigation with Professor Coughlin, Trusts and Estates with Professor Cushman, and Evidence with Professor Dudley were probably my favorites. Professor Coughlin had so much energy and such a palpable desire to get students to see how lopsided the criminal justice system can be that it really got me fired up to get out into the world and try to do something about it. It was exactly the sort of class I imagined I would have in law school. Professor Cushman is a master craftsman of law teaching. Someone once described sitting through a lecture of his as witnessing the sculpting of a perfect wedding cake-there are many layers, but in the end you see a perfect whole. He takes what could be a rather mundane area of the law and makes it intricate, challenging, and entertaining. And Professor Dudley, well, he's Professor Dudley.
Best learning experience? Participating in the Criminal Defense Clinic this year. For the first time, I got to work directly with clients in the criminal justice system and see how my law school classes-from Criminal Law to Criminal Investigation and Adjudication to Evidence-either did or did not apply to real people in the real world. The clinic supervisors, all local criminal defense attorneys, freely shared their experience and expertise in this challenging field of law with humor and humility. It was an inspiring and eye-opening experience.
Activities at the Law School : A little bit of everything, it seems like. I served as an Executive Editor on the Virginia Law Review ; I was involved with student government and helped with admissions as a tour guide and student panelist. I was a Peer Advisor, played softball, and served as the Law School nominations chair for the Raven Society. I helped out with the Conference on Public Service and the Law for two years, and was involved with Virginia Law Women each year. My favorite experience, though, was serving as a student representative to the faculty Curriculum Committee and chairing the parallel student Academic Concerns Committee. We addressed real student concerns and made concrete changes in the curriculum that had an effect on students' day-to-day experiences at the Law School. It was a great way to get to know faculty outside the classroom and to foster communication between them and students.
Future plans : Clerk, Judge Leonie Brinkema, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. Then I'll join Covington & Burling in Washington, D.C.
Best summer experience : I worked at Covington & Burling in Washington, D.C. during the summer of my second year. I worked with incredibly smart people who were creative thinkers and cared about the law-not just about their jobs. In one month, I got to work on a case representing plaintiffs alleging discrimination against a large restaurant chain, have lunch with Paul Tagliabue, the Commissioner of the National Football League, and chat up the cast of a major Broadway show at the Kennedy Center. For a kid from Kentucky, this was exhilarating!
What you wish you could do over : Every bit of it, starting with Day One. I'm not ready to be done!
Favorite spot on Grounds : Scott Commons, at lunchtime, when everyone you know is stopping to say hello.
Favorite spot off Grounds? The roof deck of my apartment on the downtown mall, where I can look up from my reading and out to Brown's Mountain.
I knew I wanted to go to Virginia when : I came to visit, the sun was out, and everyone seemed happy. The building was full of natural light. The library had a view out to the Blue Ridge Mountains. People were on the softball field in the middle of the day. I thought, this would be a nice place to study and play.
Advice for entering students : Take your time. Enjoy your friendships, take your professors to lunch, don't rush home for that nap. There is a lot of anxiousness to "get through" the first semester, or the second year, or February. But you'll probably never again be surrounded by so many energetic, upbeat people with interests so similar to your own, or have the attention of so many dynamic scholars as are on the faculty. Jump right in, and enjoy every minute of it-it goes quickly.