Four alumnae receive top law school honors

Caproni, Chastain and Curtis win DSS Award

Earlier this year, the School of Law recognized three individuals for their service to the legal world and their communities with Distinguished Service Scroll Awards.

Val Caproni

Val Caproni (J.D.’79)

Val Caproni, a 1979 summa cum laude School of Law graduate, is a U.S. District Court Judge for the Southern District of New York. Prior to becoming a judge, she held a variety of positions in the private and public sectors.

She began her legal career in Atlanta, clerking for Judge Phyllis A. Kravitch of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit before moving to New York City to work in private practice. She left her role at Cravath, Swaine & Moore to serve as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of New York. She held several positions in that office and was ultimately named chief of its criminal division.

She also served in leadership roles with the New York State Urban Development Corporation, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Northrop Grumman Corporation.

“… Val Caproni has touched all the bases: outstanding student, accomplished in the private practice of law, a dedicated public servant, a corporate lawyer and a federal district judge in one of the busiest and most important trial courts in the United States,” Associate Dean and Professor Emeritus Paul M. Kurtz said. “… During my time on the faculty I crossed paths with thousands of students and I am proud of almost all of them. However, I am proud of none of them any more than I am of Val. Congratulations to you, my dear friend, on a wonderful career and this wonderful recognition of your work.”

Chastain pic

Lynn Chastain (J.D.’84)

A 1984 graduate of the law school, Lynn Chastain recently retired from her post as senior vice president and general counsel of Chick-fil-A, which she also served as secretary to its Board of Directors. Chastain worked for the fast-food company for 29 years and was the first female to serve on its executive committee. After law school, she worked in commercial real estate at Troutman Sanders in Atlanta.

She currently is a member of the Board of Directors for Eagle Ranch. Chastain previously served as chair of the board for Junior Achievement in Georgia and as the founding director of The Kenya Project, a nonprofit ministry focused on health, education, spiritual development and homes for the African nation’s orphans. She also has served as a member of the law school’s Board of Visitors.

“My mom is brilliant and she is powerful and best of all she uses that brilliance and that power to bring about good in the world,” Chastain’s daughter Taylor said. “My mom not only had an impact in the corporate capacity, but she’s also been highly involved in the nonprofit community. … All throughout my life my mom has taught me what it means to be a good steward. She would always say to me, ‘to whom much is given, much is also expected.’ By stewarding the gifts of her resources, her brilliance and mainly of her heart, my mom has led the way for countless people who she’s interacted with throughout the years.”

Curtis pic

Santhia Curtis (J.D.’91)

Santhia Curtis graduated from the School of Law in 1991. She began her career with Powell Goldstein. After leaving the private sector, she transitioned to in-house practice as a litigator with the federal government.

She then served as the general counsel and chief privacy officer for the largest accounts receivable management company and debt buyer in the United States. She also was the deputy general counsel of the Atlanta Independent School System and the chief of staff for the president of the Morehouse School of Medicine, which she also served as its chief legal officer, secretary to the Board of Trustees and ex-officio member of the board’s audit and compliance and governance committees.

In 2014, she began working with family offices to manage diversified investment portfolios and holdings for domestic and international opportunities. Additionally, she has been a member of the UGA Law School Association Council for more than one decade and was president of the LSAC in 2012.

“When I first met Santhia Curtis, I immediately saw that she was a strong woman who could get things done. Over the years, I learned that Ms. Curtis is in fact so strong that she could easily push anyone who was lucky enough to be in her company to be better than they ever thought they could be on their own,” Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Harold Melton (J.D.’91) said. “Her friendship is a true gift, and her ability to quickly dispense with nonsense and apply common sense wisdom to improve any situation is a breath of fresh air. She is a true and loyal friend with a genuinely loving and giving heart. She gives to others without reservation, and it is with that same giving spirit that she continues to love and give back to her law school.”

McMahon earns Young Alumni / Alumnae of Excellence Award

The School of Law’s Young Alumni / Alumnae of Excellence Award was presented to 2011 law school alumna Lt. Cmdr. Catherine T. “Katie” McMahon.

Prior to enrolling in law school, she worked for the Defense Intelligence Agency and was employed to Baghdad from 2007 to 2008 as a civilian in an intelligence billet working in the Joint Document and Media Exploitation Center on Camp Slayer. She received both the Civilian Expeditionary Medal and the Joint Civilian Service Commendation Award for her service in Iraq.

Katie McMahon

Lt. Cmdr. Katie McMahon (J.D.’11)

After graduation from the School of Law, she successfully completed the Georgia bar exam and graduated from Naval Justice School. She has held several positions in service to our country such as an installation staff judge advocate, trial counsel and victim’s legal counsel. In July, she began work as a civil litigation attorney in Washington, D.C.

“Even though the Navy has taken Lt. [Cmdr.] McMahon all around the country and all over the world, she remains dedicated to her UGA law community,” former classmate Texys Morris Wheelock (J.D.’11) said. “She has conducted various recruiting trips for the Navy back at Georgia Law. She has been both an official and unofficial mentor to law students who are especially interested in pursuing a career in military justice. … Lt. Cmdr. McMahon truly embodies the spirit of the UGA law [young] alumni award. She continues to demonstrate passion and dedication to the legal profession, to her country and to her beloved University of Georgia.”