Alex Haden '17
I am still a little shocked that I am writing this goodbye column. The Virginia Law Weekly has been a part of my life here at UVa Law practically since day 1, and it is crazy to me that this issue will be my last as Editor-In-Chief. One of the most important functions that the newspaper serves, in my opinion, is a historical record of UVa Law; to that end, I’d like to use this piece as a means of reflection on my small window of time in the length of this publication, and also as a way to say thank you to those who have made this paper a reality.
On September 17th, 2014, I received an email from Sarah Brown, the then-Editor-in-Chief of the Virginia Law Weekly. Apparently, the Law Weekly was one of the 500 clubs that I had signed up for at the Activities Fair. The email invited me to an open house event in the newspaper’s office, with pizza and soda. A friend of mine from my section got the same email, and together, we convinced ourselves to gather up the courage and hunt through Slaughter to try to find Room 279.
My undergraduate student newspaper was, as some people lovingly called it, “really fucking intense.” Walking up those steps to Slaughter, I pictured dozens of people running around a crowded office, frantically editing, writing, printing, reviewing, and goodness knows what else. I was a little surprised to open the door and find a room with four or five people eating pizza, listening to Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse,” and laughing at a Buzzfeed article.
This was the opposite of what I expected. The first month of law school is intense, rough, hard, and stressful, but these people were having fun. They were laughing and smiling, which I hadn’t done for the last month because Civil Procedure. They were warm and friendly and laid-back. I was instantly hooked. There were a couple of other 1Ls there, who had the same look on their faces that I did: a look that said “What is going on here?”
And thus, the Monday night ritual began. Every week, we’d head up to the office, grab a bunch of pizza, and edit article after article. Slowly and gradually, we absorbed knowledge from the 3Ls: which professors to take, what the job market was like, and which martini at Sedona is the best. In September, I wrote my first ever article. When the issue came out, I took four copies of the paper from the Library, shared it on Facebook, and sent it to my mom, who responded by asking, “Why did you write about throwing up?”
In October, I became the News Editor, which essentially meant that I sat in on SBA meetings and took notes on what happened. As evidence that I had literally no clue what was happening, I was unaware that you had to be elected to be able to vote on SBA; I therefore raised my hand to vote for some budget appropriation, causing then-President Alex Matthews to stare at me in confusion for a few seconds. Ironically, I don’t think I wrote a single news piece that entire semester, so I’d call my tenure as a News Editor a resounding success.
I would be remiss not to give thanks to the people who have made my time on this paper such a wonderful experience. At the outset, I want to thank all of the Law Weekly staff members who have worked tirelessly to produce a newspaper every week; similarly, anyone who has ever written an article or column has my thanks as well. I also wanted to give a few special shout-outs for some people who have guided me along the way.
I gained an appreciation for the meaning of teamwork when I became an Executive Editor in 2015. Week after week, I worked very closely with then-EIC, Christina Albertson, as she began a revitalization of the paper. Her dream for the paper was to make it a more reputable and interesting news source, while still maintaining its roots as a comedic, tongue-in-cheek publication. That dream, while easily stated, required an extraordinary amount of work on her part—and, of course, help from a dedicated staff—in revamping our columns, focusing our news stories, and reestablishing the paper’s reputation in our community. As I noted in my first column as Editor-in-Chief, much of what the paper is today comes from the changes and effort that Christina made to the paper, and I hope that we have properly enshrined that fact in our editions.
When I became Editor-in-Chief, the Executive Editor-EIC relationship stayed equally important, and I was lucky enough to be joined by Jenna Goldman as EE. While all members of the paper have worked exceedingly hard to make our publication a success, Jenna has gone above and beyond her call of duty. The pieces she solicited, the hard-hitting articles she crafted, and the long hours she put into editing the paper have all made producing a weekly paper a far easier task than I imagined. As our next Editor-in-Chief, I have no doubt that Jenna will continue to improve this paper and continue the success that it has achieved already.
I also want to thank a certain member of the faculty who has provided me with good advice and perspective about many things, including this paper. I remember telling this faculty member about a prospective controversial article, and vehemently defending my First Amendment right to publish it. I was wisely advised that there is a difference between “I can publish it” and “I should publish it.” For that and other pieces of advice, I am very grateful.
Last, but certainly not least, I have to thank the other five Law Weekly staff members in the Class of 2017: Ashley Angelotti, David Markoff, Caroline Catchpole, Ryan Caira, and Carly Coleman. From that first day in 2014 where we stepped into the office together, we became a wonderful little family. We have been through more crazy news stories, columns, journalistic judgment calls, and—of course—cartoons than any of us could have anticipated, but we made it through, and I am so lucky to have made it through with you. Not only did you all make publication of the Virginia Law Weekly possible, you made it a wonderful experience for me with your friendship.
And finally, thank you to all of the readers of the paper. Your readership gives our publication meaning, and I am so grateful to have been a part of that meaning for my time at UVa Law.