Rosenbloom Award Goes to Former Teacher

Jansen VanderMeulen '19
Executive Editor

Teaching and mentoring have always been part of the life of Andrew Manns, the UVa Law 3L chosen as the recipient of this year’s Rosenbloom Award. The award honors one student per year with a strong academic record “who has significantly enhanced the academic experience of other law students by volunteering support and assistance to them.”1 Originally from Leicester, Vermont, Manns graduated with a degree in government from Dartmouth College in 2011. Before coming to UVa, Manns spent three years teaching—two in Brooklyn and the other in Austin, Texas. “My parents always cared a lot about education, and I always enjoyed teaching and mentoring,” Manns said. While in Brooklyn, Manns taught special education, primarily with dyslexic fifth- and sixth-graders, as a part of the Teach for America program. He described his experience as “very rewarding.”  In Austin the next year, Manns taught reading and writing to sixth-graders and continued to help with special education. Both districts faced substantial challenges; more than ninety percent of pupils in each district received free or discounted lunches due to low incomes. Those challenges made the work all the more rewarding for Manns, who saw the disadvantaged areas as fertile ground for the helping hand of a teacher.

So how does a sixth-grade reading teacher end up on track to be a lawyer? Easy, Manns said. As a teacher, he felt like he was in the trenches fighting social inequality head-to-head. “You work with and help your students succeed,” he said, “but you can’t do as much as you want to.” Manns sees the job of a lawyer as working to alleviate the greater causes of systematic social problems. With that goal in mind, Manns hopes either to work for the Department of Justice or to get into academia. First, though, Manns has two years of clerking ahead. After graduating, he will clerk for Judge T.S. Ellis III of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. After that, he’s off San Francisco to clerk for Judge William A. Fletcher of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Manns said he selected his judges based on their penchant for mentoring clerks. As for advice about clerking, “Don’t count yourself out,” Manns said, noting that UVa professors are excellent resources with deep connections to many judges. Manns’ mantra about clerking would make Ruth Payne proud: anyone who wants to clerk and is willing to work for it can clerk, he said, and he highly recommends that even skeptics look into the idea.

While Manns has been involved with a wide range of activities while at UVa Law, the one he recalled most fondly was his time as a Research Assistant (RA) to Professor Rachel Harmon, whom he called “amazing.” While working with Professor Harmon, Manns had the opportunity to help her write a casebook and assist her in crafting other legal writings. He recommended that anyone who has the chance to take Professor Harmon’s Criminal Procedure class or Law and Police seminar seize the opportunity to do so. After lauding Manns’ academic accomplishments, Professor Harmon had effusive praise for what she called “his unfailing commitment to helping other students.” Professor Harmon claimed to have taken advantage of that quality often. “At my request,” she said, “he has advised several classmates and trained a bunch of my newer research assistants.” She went on to say, “All told, Andrew is a great illustration of UVa Law’s best qualities, and I will be sorry to see him graduate.” Assistant Dean of Student Affairs Sarah Davies echoed Professor Harmon’s warm comments: “Andrew embodies UVa’s spirit of community,” she said.

In addition to his position as an RA to Professor Harmon, Manns also served as an Articles Editor for the Virginia Law Review (“Sometimes you have to teach the professors things, like the Bluebook”) and as a Dillard Fellow. The latter position, yet another teaching and mentoring role, is, according to Manns, a great way to give back and get to know first-year students. Manns’ enthusiasm for teaching was evident in the giddy excitement with which he talked about his role as a Dillard Fellow. His past as a teacher, he said, helped him get students motivated for Legal Research and Writing, which first-year students sometimes find difficult. He also enjoyed watching students’ writing progress and their confidence grow from the beginning of fall semester to the time the first-year brief is turned in.

Reflecting upon his time at UVa, Manns offered up some advice for current 1Ls and 2Ls: “Take time to enjoy the place,” he said. “Law school can be stressful in a lot of ways, but this is a great community to spend three years as a part of. Spend time with your section-mates, spend time with your friends here. The work will always be here.”