For The Record

Photograph by Alexandria Brown

Chris Sullivan, ’17 and L’22, never knew that his mother, Sallyanne Sullivan, attended law school until he was in high school. “She passed away from breast cancer when I was 3,” said Sullivan, who grew up with his “very left-brain, chemical engineer” father, Mark Sullivan, outside Philadelphia.

“I was wondering why I always felt disappointment that I was not as good in math and science as my dad,” Sullivan said. “I always was more attracted to critical thinking, to reading, writing, argument, and reason.”

So when he came across an article that his mother wrote for the University of Dayton Law Review in her role as editor-in-chief, it struck a chord.

“I read it, and it was like looking in a mirror,” he said. “I could see myself doing this.”

Today, Sullivan is about to enter his third year of law school — and, following in his mother’s footsteps, he’ll take on the role of editor-in-chief of his school’s flagship journal, the University of Richmond Law Review.

The Law Review appealed to Sullivan because of the depth and breadth of scholarship explored in its pages. But more than that, Sullivan found that the Law Review served as a microcosm of what he valued most about Richmond Law. In his fellow staff members, he found a group of “goal-oriented, team-oriented people who take pride in the work that they’re doing.”

That community is one of the reasons Sullivan chose Richmond Law to pursue his legal education. After graduating from the University of Richmond in three years and spending some time with Teach for America, he returned to his alma mater.

“In law school, in general, there’s a mentality of competition and a cutthroat environment,” he said. “Richmond dispelled that immediately. It seemed like an environment that I not only could enjoy, but could thrive in.”

Today, Sullivan studies intellectual property and copyright law. But outside of academics, the Law Review is his primary focus. He approaches his year as editor-in-chief with a mix of “80% excitement and 20% terror,” he said. “I know it’s going to be a big responsibility.”

One of his major goals for his tenure is to further explore technological innovations to make the editorial process “more efficient, more productive, more enjoyable,” he said. During the pandemic, the Law Review adapted to digital editing in a remote world. Sullivan doesn’t want the lessons learned during that time to go to waste: “As bad as [COVID-19] was, it was still a learning experience. Adversity creates ingenuity and forces you to solve those problems.” That’s a mindset that will guide his leadership over the coming school year.