She’s blazing a trail!
A graduating University of Virginia School of Law student made history as the first Black Virginia Law Review editor-in-chief, UVA Law reports.
Tiffany Mickel was a star student at her Stafford County, Virginia high school where she excelled in both math and science. She carried that passion with her to undergrad, majoring in materials science and engineering with a minor in African diaspora studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). After graduating with her bachelors’, she took some time to head into the workforce, serving as a management consultant for federal projects at Accenture and working at Boeing Co. prior to that. After a few years, Mickel decided she was finally going to head back to school to pursue her dream of becoming a lawyer.
At an early age, Mickel gained an affinity for the legal sector, enamored by shows like “Matlock” and “JAG” which she watched with her Army parents. Once she started at UVA, she began joining various on campus organizations, including the Black Law Students Association where she worked overseas on human rights projects. It was the mentors at school who she credits with giving her support on navigating law school as well inspiring her to join the Virginia Law Review.
“Having mentorship at UVA Law has been so pivotal. Our student organizations are amazing, they're student-run and afford us many wonderful opportunities to learn a great deal about what to expect from a legal education and how to get the most out of law school. I was fortunate to have an incredible mentor who I met through BLSA and who encouraged me to try out for Virginia Law Review.
Last year, Mickel underwent a rigorous application process alongside her peers with the hope of joining the Virginia Law Review. A group of her peers elected her to become editor-in-chief, Mickel making history as the first Black person to hold the title in the school’s 200 plus year history. Once joining, Mickel says one of the first things she did was “create a vision of where and how I thought I could contribute.”
This past year, Mickel has published an array of scholarship, including reviews written by 50% women. She also focused on keeping topics diverse, expanding their imprint outside of the normal constitutional and theory law reviews to include topics reviews regarding bankruptcy and intellectual property. This past February, the Virginia Law Review Online hosted a conference under Mickel’s leadership entitled “Interrogating Legal Pedagogy and Imagining a Better Way to Train Lawyers.” They also established the unified journal tryout allowing students to compete for placement at multiple journals simultaneously, which has since become a model for other institutions. Mickel herself doubled as VA Law Review editor-in-chief and articles editor for the Virginia Sports & Entertainment Law Journal.
“I looked at it not as an occasion that would overwhelm me, but as a fortunate opportunity that could teach me important organizational, time management and analytical skills. So I decided to commit to the additional role, too,” explained Mickel.
Her time at UVA Law has inspired her to explore a range of career paths in the sector. UVA Law Dean Risa Goluboff calls the work Mickel is doing ambitious, saying she “can’t help but smile.”
“She leads with confidence, creativity, joy, and an authentic and inclusive embrace of others. She is always ready to pitch in, and she is equally happy to enable and empower other students to shine. She is ambitious in her vision not only to make the Law Review the best it can be, but also to contribute to positive change far beyond it,” said Goluboff.
Mickel’s tenure as editor-in-chief just wrapped in January and she’s spent more than half of her law school time dealing with the global pandemic but she still feels inspired. She’s more than happy to have led one of the nation’s top law journals, gaining the respect of her peers and affirming her own academic achievement. She’s now in her third year and is set to graduate this May with plans to work at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher in Washington, D.C. In 2023, she will begin clerking for Judge Carl E. Stewart in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
“Leading a flagship journal was demanding, but forming relationships with my colleagues on the review and seeing them and the journal perform so well was a reward in and of itself…What I’ve learned as a law student is to be flexible and to be resilient. There’s still lots of learning to do and lots of things to be accomplished even in a virtual world. Even when there are challenges, people look to lawyers to contribute impactful solutions,” said Mickel.
Congratulations, Tiffany! We can’t wait to see what you do next!
Photo Courtesy of Julia Davis/University of Virginia School of Law