Hot Bench: Editor Emeritus Jansen VanderMeulen '19

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What are you most excited for during your clerkship year in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho? 

Wade Foster and I are going to shoot a bunch of pheasants and I can feast on pheasant tacos to my heart’s delight. 


What is your favorite word?   

January. Imagine James Earl Jones saying, “January.” 


Where did you grow up?  

Washington State’s picturesque Skagit Valley, home of the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival and acres of the world’s finest blueberries. 


What’s the best meal you’ve ever had? 

When I worked in the berry fields, a local taco truck would dispatch a van (license-plate frame: “Always Late But Worth the Wait”) to the fields for lunch every day. We would drop what we were doing and “make haste”—as the kids say—over to the van for some of the Doña’s tortas de asada. If she mass-produced her torta sauce she’d be a millionaire. 


If you could meet one celebrity, who would it be and why? 

I don’t believe in celebrities. 


What’s your favorite hobby to avoid the stress of law school?  

If you go west on Barracks Road and just keep going past the general store, the road eventually turns to gravel; if you keep going a while longer, you end up at a county park in some foothills far from everything. My cell phone doesn’t work there and there’s no one around, so I open my truck window on a nice spring day to let the breeze in, lean my seat back, and go to sleep. It’s paradise. 


Where is your favorite place to vacation? 

Southeast Washington’s Blue Mountains are an uncharted and unpopulated nirvana, far from street lights and car horns and 1Ls who steal your seat after the third day of class. You can hear the bull elk bugling and drink the spring water, but you will run into black bears and that can be disconcerting for some folks. 


What’s something you wish you’d known about law school before coming to UVA Law? 

I should have known not to believe the tour guide who told me we’d all receive a fur cape like Emerson Spies’s when we graduated. 


What did you have for breakfast this morning? 

I have forsworn breakfast in this life except in narrow circumstances mostly involving Bodo’s and blueberries. 


If you could live anywhere, where would it be? 

See Question 3, supra 


What’s your least favorite sound? 

The unmistakable throat-clearing of a gunner about to derail Prof. Nelson yet again.  


What’s the best gift you’ve ever received? 

For my high school graduation, my penny-pinching Dutch family knew I wanted an ice cream cake, so they picked up one that was on sale at Dairy Queen. It said “Happy Acquittal, Suzy” with frosting decorations of an unlocked ball-and-chain. Given that the cake was left behind and on sale, Suzy apparently had a bad court date. 


What’s your favorite thing to do in Charlottesville? 

Sometimes I go up to Darden Towe Park in Pantops and sleep on the ground under the big tree by the softball fields.  


If you could make one rule that everyone had to follow, what would it be? 

I’d ban brunch don’t @ me. 


What’s your spirit animal? 



What’s your favorite food? 

I shoot some ducks, I pluck them, I cut out the breasts and sauté them with garlic and Worcestershire sauce and put them in some tortillas with peppers and onions and some sauce. 


If you won the lottery, what would you do with it? 

First, bye bye law school debt. 

Second, give Michael the groundskeeper a huge raise, Spies Garden looks amazing. 

Third, buy my dad a trip to Australia. 

Fourth, go to Delaware to prove it’s not a myth made up by law school professors. 

Fifth, purchase Waffle House. 

Sixth, end Waffle House. 

If you had Matrix-like learning, what would you learn? 

Civ Pro. 

What are the 7 wonders of the law school? 

  1. The giant hedge of red bushes the Law School is currently destroying by the Dean’s parking lot; 

  2. Lisa; 

  3. All eighteen things in the Law School named “Caplin”; 

  4. Tom Watson’s hair; 

  5. The enormous, wildly detailed painting of the hills in Caplin Pavilion; 

  6. K-Don’s success rate; 

  7. Dean Jeffries’ pocket square.