Special Interview: Grace Cleveland of UVA Law

By Georgia Warrington| October 1, 2014

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Big news!

Tonight at 6:30 PM , admissions administrators and alumni from UVA are going to be speaking at a special buffet dinner at the WISH ballroom on Capitol Hill.  In honor of the event tonight, we at The Post sat down with top admissions staff to get their two cents on graduate school.

Grace Cleveland (a key speaker tonight), is the director of admissions at UVA Law.

Grace, what are you eager to share with the WISH interns tomorrow?

I look forward to telling people a bit more about the law school application process and about what a fantastic school UVA Law is.

Several UVA Law alumni will also be on hand to chat with the WISH interns about their different career paths, which include lobbying, working at large D.C. law firms, and running nonprofit organizations.  Our students use their law degrees in many different ways.

How can someone know they’re ready for grad school?

I think that answer is different for everyone.  After I graduated college, I worked for four years in arts administration. I liked my coworkers and believed in the missions of the dance companies I worked for, but, eventually, I got to a point where I knew my career wasn’t where I wanted it to be.

I think, if you’re in that position, you have to be ready to recommit to school.  It’s three years (in the case of law school) of your life, and for me, I had to make a pretty honest assessment of where my career was and where I wanted it to go.

What’s the best thing a prospective student can do to know whether or not a graduate school is right for them?

The best thing they can do is visit.  Brochures and websites are great, but they don’t compare to actually setting foot on the campus and meeting students and faculty.

When I was applying to law school (full disclosure, I’m a UVA Law alumna), I made a list of schools in which I was interested.  That list looked very different after I visited those schools.  Where I thought I was going to go at the start of the process was not where I wanted to go by the end.

What kind of transformation do you see students go through in graduate school?

It’s interesting how different grad school felt from college.  You’re taking a deep dive into a particular field in a way that most people don’t do in undergrad.  Like college, graduate school provides you with fantastic learning opportunities.  But in grad school, you also start to build the network that will be with you for the rest of your professional life.

Your fellow students are going to run law firms, or be judges or ambassadors, and you’re going to be professionally running into them over and over again in a way that you won’t with people from undergrad.  People I went to law school with are going to be my colleagues, collaborators – maybe they’ll even end up on the other side of the aisle.

What sets UVA Law apart from other law schools?

Well, we’re a Top 10 Law School, so obviously we give our students an amazing education and open a lot of doors professionally. But I think what makes UVA Law a little different is that it’s also a good place to spend three years.  We’re known for having a collegial environment, and that’s a reputation we are proud of.

For example, there’s an old stereotype that law school– any law school – is a hypercompetitive place where people tear pages out of library books to keep other students from finding the information they need.  When I was doing a group research project my first year of law school, I found that another group had actually tabbed pages in a legal text to make the information easier for us to find.

That’s the attitude of students at UVA Law, and we really look for prospective students who want to be part of that kind of environment.

What are you looking forward to most about the event tomorrow?

I can’t wait to meet all the WISH interns and find out where they’re working. I’m there to answer whatever questions they have – can’t wait to hear what they have to say.


Thank you so much for your time Grace! 

If you want to meet Grace and other staff members at UVA, please RSVP tointerns@internsdc.com for a spot at our buffet dinner. 

Tonight, October 1st, 6:30 PM.  See you there!

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