Feature Stories Campus Events All Stories

Alumni Spotlight: Noriya Shahadat ’21L Noriya Shahadat is an associate in the Environmental and Mass Tort litigation group at McGuireWoods.

shahadat-noriya-800x533 Alumni Spotlight: Noriya Shahadat '21LNoriya Shahadat ’21L

Noriya Shahadat ‘21L was born and raised in Harare, Zimbabwe. She graduated from Minot State University in 2017, where she majored in Criminal Justice and minored in International Business. Before attending law school, Noriya worked as a legal assistant for a criminal defense attorney in Minot, North Dakota. During the summer after her first year of law school, Noriya was a 1L LCLD Scholar for McGuireWoods, LLP, and Capital One in Richmond, VA. In the summer after her second year of law school, Noriya returned to McGuireWoods as a summer associate and now works there as an associate in the Environmental and Mass Tort litigation group. Outside of work, Noriya enjoys travelling and spending time in the company of family and friends.

Discuss your career path and how it led you to working at McGuireWoods.

Coming into law school I had a leaning towards defense litigation but had never heard of “big law.” The first time I was introduced to the concept was at one of the bi-weekly academic success workshops hosted in the fall of my 1L year. I was immediately interested and reached out to the panelists after the workshop with some follow-up questions. A few weeks later, I attended an etiquette dinner hosted by McGuireWoods on the W&L campus. I had wonderful interactions with the McGuireWoods lawyers and recruiters and knew I wanted to learn more about the firm. I then had conversations about the firm with the Office of Career Strategy (OCS) and professors that had worked at McGuireWoods. Both provided me with guidance on how to navigate the application process for a 1L LCLD position. I am glad that things fell into place the way they did because this has been a great place to start my legal career. I also really enjoy the type of work I do, which is defending various business entities in high-stakes commercial litigation matters.

What sort of legal issues do you handle on a day-to-day basis?

I work in the product liability space, which involves defending corporate defendants in a wide variety of complex, high-value lawsuits centered around a given product. At the risk of sounding cliché, no two workdays are the same for me. The legal issues I work on vary depending on the type of product at issue, and some cases I work on are general litigation matters with no product focus at all. So, it would be accurate to say that there is a lot of variety in the issues I handle day-to-day, but the majority of the cases I work on are rooted in tort law.

Along with my regular practice, I enjoy working on immigration matters and have an extensive immigration pro bono practice. My work in this area often involves seeking immigration benefits on behalf of minors, asylees, and refugees.

What do you like about your current job?

I enjoy the non-legal subjects that I am exposed to. Every product liability case comes with the opportunity to learn about a new product, and this is not just a high-level overview of the product. We learn the intricate and fascinating details about each product. In only three years, I have accumulated a wealth of technical knowledge about several products. So, my job is a lovely mix of legal analysis and technical knowledge—which I find exciting.

On top of the engaging subject matter, I am grateful to work with genuinely good and brilliant people. I learn so much from my colleagues just by existing in proximity with them day-to-day. I am also lucky to have found mentorship and support not only in my immediate team members but in attorneys in other practice areas that I met during my time as a summer associate. I appreciate that I work with people that invest in my development and growth.

What are some practices you have in your daily life as an attorney to maintain wellness?

I prioritize getting a healthy amount of sleep regularly. I find that I show up as my best self when I am well-rested. I also recently bought a walking pad to get my daily steps in while I take calls or catch up on emails. This has been a gamechanger for me because it takes away the guilt I would sometimes feel after sitting at my desk all day with very little movement. It feels rewarding to hit my movement goals daily, which is a nice bonus. (As an aside: anyone who sat in the same corner of the library as I did in law school will tell you about my obsession with hitting step goals. I would often pace in circles in our little corner until I got yelled at for distracting others. So, I am glad to have found a replacement for my circling.)

Which W&L classes and/or experiences do you think were most helpful in preparing you for this job? 

This is a difficult question to answer briefly because I had many experiences at W&L that I believe all contributed to preparing me for practice.

When it comes to classes I would have to say Professor Hasbrouck’s Statutory Interpretation practicum and Professor Eggert’s Complex Litigation practicum. I highly recommend these classes to any current or prospective students interested in litigation. Almost everything you encounter in litigation will relay back to the concepts covered in these classes in some shape or form.

My time in the Advanced Administrative Litigation Clinic (Black Lung Clinic) was another instrumental experience that prepared me for my current job. Professor MacDonnell was an excellent clinical professor and delivered on his promise to get his students practice ready. Some of my fondest memories of my third year of law school include sitting with my peers in our clinic conference room until the early hours of the morning helping each other prepare for hearings and expert depositions—we worked very well as a team. My clinic experience mirrors my actual practice in a lot of ways.

Finally, I would be remiss if I did not mention my all-time favorite law school experience: Moot Court Competitions. The advocacy competition space gave me a sense of confidence and independence in my internal legal analysis. Every time I sat down to untangle a moot court problem, I was learning how to process legal issues in my authentic inner monologue—a tool I will carry with me for the rest of my career.

What advice do you have for prospective law students?

Be open to all opportunities and experiences in law school even if you come into law school with what you believe to be a clear idea of your career path. A legal education is not limited only to the substantive knowledge you get in the classroom. A big part of getting a legal education is being exposed to various career paths that you did not know existed before law school. Be curious, explore these paths, and make an informed decision about your career. There are endless routes to a successful legal career and law school is your time to discover them.

If you know any W&L alumni who would be great profile subjects, tell us about them! Nominate them for a web profile.

Outside of Work


A recent hobby has been running. I run for fun now—which I still cannot believe on most days.

Book Recommendation

Africa is Not a Country” by Dipo Faloyin. Every single page taught me something new about the African continent.

Favorite Travel Location

Catalina Island