Julia Haigney: 2016 Best and Brightest

Julia Haigney
Julia Haigney
The George Washington University Law School
Hometown:  Huntington Station, NY
Undergraduate School:  The George Washington University
Undergraduate Major and Minor: International Affairs (major); French Language and Literature (minor)
Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During Law School:

  • Senior Notes Editor, The George Washington Law Review
  • Deans Fellow, 2015-2016
  • Writing Fellow, 2014-2015
  • Member, Moot Court Board
  • 2014-2015 Vice Chair, GW National Security Law Moot Court Competition
  • Student Volunteer, Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) Pro Bono Project (Spring 2015)


  • George Washington Scholar (top 1%-15% of class)
  • Finalist*, Van Vleck Constitutional Law Moot Court Competition
  • “Best Oralist Runner-Up,” National Cultural Heritage Law Moot Court Competition

*Finals will be held in January 2016.
Where have you interned during law school?

  • Summer Associate, Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, New York, NY (May – July 2015)
  • Law Clerk, GW Office of the Senior Vice President and General Counsel, Washington, DC (October 2014 – April 2015)
  • Judicial Intern for the Honorable Rudolph Contreras, United States District Court for the District of Columbia, Washington, DC (May – August 2014)
  • Department Operations Supervisor (full-time position), GW Center for Student Engagement, Washington, DC (September 2011 – January 2014)

What practice area will you be specializing in after graduation? Litigation
Why did you choose to attend law school? As the child of committed radicals, I was indoctrinated into the ways of protest and advocacy at a young age. Upset at a local sports league’s decision that only boys could play football while only girls could be cheerleaders, I wrote my first petition in the fourth grade as my parents looked on with pride.  Marching door to door with a clipboard and a prepared speech, I urged our suburban Long Island neighbors to join me in insisting on gender equality at the elementary school level. I was all of nine years old and had no idea what “gender equality” really meant but I knew that something was wrong and I was determined to fix it.
As I got older, I realized that if I was going to change the world, I first needed to understand it.  As an international affairs major at The George Washington University and a member of the University Honors Program, I focused on coursework related to international development, pursued independent research on refugee policy, and volunteered on a farm to learn more about the organic movement firsthand.
Upon graduation, I struggled to decide whether to join AmeriCorps on a full-time basis or work at GW’s Center for Student Engagement. In the end, I chose the GW job because I assumed that I could do the greatest good for the greatest number of people and, happily, I assumed correctly. In my former position, I taught students how to be advocates for themselves: how to articulate a goal, how to develop a strategy for reaching that goal, and how to persuade others that the goal is both attainable and correct. The work was occasionally frustrating, sometimes uncomfortable, and always rewarding.
I went from being a fourth-grade version of a wild-eyed radical to a post-graduate version of a thoughtful mentor. Law school was the logical next step and it has given me the opportunity to hone the advocacy skills needed to be a successful litigator. I look forward to advocating for my clients over the course of my career.
What was your favorite law school class? Civil Procedure remains my favorite class of law school because my mind craves structure before mastering substance. Even with the best facts and the most favorable legal standard, failure to follow procedural rules jeopardizes your case. Civil procedure formed the basis of other advanced classes as well: Federal Courts, Criminal Procedure, and even parts of Administrative Law.
Which attorney do you most admire? While working at Sullivan & Cromwell this summer, I was fortunate enough to be assigned a “Partner Advisor” who also attended GW Law. Mark Rosenberg gained my admiration this summer by challenging me with interesting projects, providing me with tailored feedback, and welcoming me into the firm with open arms.  I have been fortunate to have many great mentors in life; I am extremely excited to have a supervisor who cares so much about both my personal and professional development when I return to the firm.
What have you enjoyed most about law school? Law Review has been my favorite part of law school because it allows students to work as a team. While “teamwork” may sound mundane, so much of law school is competitive and not collaborative. Yet, most legal jobs stand in stark contrast: Whether working in a corporate, regulatory, or litigation setting, a new attorney will rely on colleagues’ contributions and a supervisor’s feedback to succeed.  Journal membership is important because it emphasizes and develops this skill set. Without every member at every level working towards a common goal, timely publication would not be possible.
What word best describes your professional brand? Warmth. I always try to go above and beyond to make sure the people around me are thanked for their work and that I thank others for supporting me in my endeavors as well.
If you were debt free, how would you spend your first paycheck after landing your first law job? I would definitely take my very large family out to dinner.  My parents always told me that “it takes a village”—and I have a lot of people to thank for getting me this far!
“I knew I wanted to go to law school when…I grew up hearing protest songs instead of lullabies.”
“If I didn’t go to law school, I would be…working at an international non-profit.”
Which academic or personal achievement are you most proud of? I am really excited to be a finalist in GW Law’s Van Vleck Constitutional Law Moot Court Competition. The finals will take place before the final bench of Justice Samuel Alito, Judge Debra Livingston, and Judge Brett Kavanaugh—and about 1,500 other law students!  It will definitely be the highlight of my nine years at GW.
Fun fact about yourself: I volunteered on an organic raspberry farm for six weeks in southern France between my junior and senior year of college.
Favorite book:Tales of a Female Nomad: Living at Large in the World by Rita Golden Gelman
Favorite movie: My Cousin Vinny
What are your hobbies? I enjoy playing “speed Scrabble” between classes and attending Barre3 on the weekends.
What made Julia such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2016? “Julia is such an extraordinary and invaluable member of the Class of 2016 that is it difficult to decide what to cover in this short statement.
As a Writing Fellow and Dean’s Fellow in the Legal Research & Writing Program, she has demonstrated an unwavering willingness to mentor 1Ls with their writing, research, and citation work, as well as navigate the trials and tribulations of their first year of law school. Julia does so with great poise and professionalism; she is also among the first people to volunteer to help program administrators with anything asked.
Julia participated as a student advisor in the GW Inns of Court Program last year, also to great acclaim among the part-time students that she served. As well, Julia ran the entire 1L Journal Competition last year, and did so more efficiently that any one previously serving in that role. She continues to provide expert counsel to the GW Law Review in her role as Senior Notes Editor and member of the Executive Board more generally. Second-year note writers frequently compliment both her work-ethic and management style, and those working under her also consistently report that she is not only a wonderful example to them but a genuinely lovely person to be around. Julia is a finalist in the Van Vleck Moot Court Competition; among more than ninety competitors, she is one of only four students who will argue in front of Justice Samuel Alito and two esteemed circuit court judges in January.  She is an extremely talented soon-to-be lawyer with a generous spirit and engaging personality.  She will be greatly missed at GW Law for many years to come.
Christy Hallam DeSanctis
Professor of Legal Research and Writing and Director of the Legal Research and Writing Program
The George Washington University Law School