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Career Paths: Scott Koven ’24L After graduation, Scott Koven will clerk for Judge Daniel Ortiz on the Court of Appeals of Virginia.

scottkoven-800x533 Career Paths: Scott Koven '24LScott Koven ’24L

Scott Koven ’24L is originally from Burke, Virginia. He holds degrees from James Madison University and Westminster Choir College. Prior to law school, he worked as a chorus teacher and musician in the greater Boston area. At W&L, he served as Editor in Chief for the W&L Law Review, an Admissions Student Ambassador, a Hearing Advisor, and in various roles with the American Constitution Society. Scott lives in town with his wife, Emily, and two dogs, Bruno and Ginger.

Where will you be working after graduation and in what practice area?

I’ll be spending my first year after graduation clerking for Judge Daniel Ortiz on the Court of Appeals of Virginia.

Did you know coming into law school that you wanted to clerk?

Not necessarily. But I’ve always been fascinated by how judges construct their decisions, and during law school, I have really enjoyed the “puzzle-solving” dynamic in appellate litigation. So, working for an appellate court seemed like a great place to further explore those interests.

Was there anything in your law school or summer job experience that confirmed this career choice?

I’ve always been intellectually curious and thought I would enjoy clerking, but the driver of the decision for me was actually personal circumstances. I worked at a big law firm in NYC during my 2L summer, and while it was an incredibly cool experience, some life circumstances made me shift my original plans. Namely, my spouse really loved her job in Charlottesville, and we felt we would be a lot happier in the long-run planting roots in Virginia. So, the question became what positions would be both a valuable experience and allow us to stay here? That’s how I started applying for clerkships. I guess my story is a reminder that choosing the best career path is not always going with the “sexiest” option; it involves complicated factors outside of law.

What classes do you think are helpful to prepare for this job?

The classic answers: Legal Writing, Civ Pro, and Crim Pro. I would also say Federal Jurisdiction, even though it deals with federal courts, because it forces you to think about the role of the judiciary in a system of government and grapple with complex questions about when a judge should/should not exercise their power. No matter where you clerk, that’s a useful exercise.

Can you describe the job search process?

I sent a small number of clerkship applications, which I think is atypical—I think a lot of people cast a very wide net. I only applied to judges who, one, I had a specific interest in working with, and, two, whose chambers were in a location that worked for me and my spouse. I applied to Judge Ortiz specifically because my Law Review note was inspired by a decision that he joined. Luckily, I got an interview, and the rest is history!

What are you most looking forward to about this job?

I’m excited to solve puzzles, participate in the decision-making process, and hopefully make a positive difference in Virginia.

Outside Law School


Can’t pick just one! Going for hikes, reading, playing piano, trying out the nearby wineries or breweries, or watching my trash Washington sports teams.

Favorite Location in Lexington/W&L Campus

Our backyard deck—it’s quiet and has some beautiful trees and rolling fields behind it!

Advice for Prospective Law Student

Reject the elitism and obsession with prestige in the legal profession. Lawyers wield tremendous power, and our decisions should be driven by our principles, not by a desire for trophies in various forms or what looks good on LinkedIn.

Something/Someone you will miss at W&L Law

I’m going to miss the small town. It’s so nice to text your friends and be able to meet up in less than ten minutes.