Pioneering Law Review Editor Finds Her Passion for Leadership

Mickel made sure to make the most of her time at the Virginia Law Review. After she joined the journal, “I started then to create a vision of where and how I thought I could contribute,” she said.

Following an application and interview process with her peers in her second year, she was chosen to lead the review. In a Q&A after she took the reins, she said she was “extremely grateful to stand on the shoulders of the women and people of color who came before me, including the Law Review’s first female editor-in-chief, Carol Stebbins [a 1980 UVA Law alumna]and its first Black editorial board member, Dayna Bowen Matthew [a 1987 graduate].”

Reflecting on her term, which wrapped up in January, Mickel said she’s proud that she helped set the stage for an appellate blog set to launch in the coming year.

She added, “I’m also really excited and proud about the scholarship we’ve published this year and the diversity of scholars, including about 50% women and many people of color.”

That diversity extends to diversity of topics. It was important to Mickel to expand beyond constitutional law and theory to other areas, ranging from bankruptcy to intellectual property. Under her leadership, the Virginia Law Review Online hosted a conference in February on “Interrogating Legal Pedagogy and Imagining a Better Way to Train Lawyers.”

The Law Review’s leadership of the unified journal tryout, in which students can compete for spots on multiple journals at the same time, has become a model for other schools. During the process, students are evaluated through a combination of their grades, an assignment that all applicants complete over the course of the tryout weekend, and a personal statement.

“Many law schools and universities have looked to the blueprint that we’ve implemented here at UVA Law with our unified journal tryout,” she said.

Mickel also found time to serve as 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,” she said. “So I decided to commit to the additional role, too.”

Mickel, a Raven Society member, said her academic experiences in law school included courses that inspired her interest in how lawyers can serve others. She cited professor Cynthia Nicoletti’s course, Cause Lawyers in American History, which looked at the role of lawyers throughout history and drew from historical documents from Reconstruction to the New Deal.

“It makes me so very excited to be a lawyer in America, where there are so many avenues, industries and movements on the horizon that lawyers will be shaping, whether they’re judges, lawyers, litigators or corporate lawyers,” Mickel said.

She also praised another course, Advanced Federal Courts with professor Richard Re, which focused on the role of federal courts in the American system of federalism and in the development of substantive federal law and constitutional rights.

“It opened my eyes so much to constitutional and statutory directives and limitations of federal courts and also what to expect, in terms of justiciability and judicial review, when I clerk in federal court,” she said.

More than half of Mickel’s time in law school has taken place during a worldwide pandemic.

“What I’ve learned as a law student is to be flexible and to be resilient,” she said. She recalled serving in two judicial internships virtually and seeing courts and judges continue their roles online. “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.”

Dean Risa Goluboff said she “can’t help but smile” when she thinks of Mickel.

“She leads with confidence, creativity, joy, and an authentic and inclusive embrace of others,” Goluboff said. “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.”

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