Alumni Profile: Viktoriia De Las Casas, L'15

July 6, 2021

Creativity and skill combine in alum’s environmental law career

“Creativity” might not be the first word that comes to mind when it comes to describing the legal profession. But that’s exactly what drew Viktoriia De Las Casas, L’15, to the profession. “As a lawyer, you have to make arguments,” she explained, and “that’s where you can be creative.” In setting out to be a lawyer in her home country of Ukraine, De Las Casas sought “to use that creativity to advocate for others.”

Today she does just that in her capacity as an associate at Troutman Pepper in Richmond, where she focuses on environmental law. Her interest in the field started at Richmond Law, where she enrolled in the two-year J.D. program for international students. She was drawn to the concept of making a difference by impacting policy. And after serving as a summer assistant to environmental law professor Noah Sachs, her mind was made up. “I love nature. I love animals, and [I realized that] I can actually practice in this area,” she said. “That’s when my interest solidified.”  

De Las Casas started her career in the United States at the Center for Biological Diversity, a nonprofit organization with an office in Washington, D.C., that advocates for protections for wildlife. It was a position funded by the Law School’s Bridge to Practice Fellowship program. After working on the environmental law team for Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld for approximately three years, she transitioned to Troutman Pepper in 2019. 

“My practice is pretty broad right now,” said De Las Casas, with projects including pipeline safety compliance, environmental enforcement and litigation, and real estate deals. “I do a lot of research and writing and analysis,” she said. “That’s a heavy part of my day.” And throughout her work, the focus is on “analyzing a problem and coming up with a creative solution.”

Beyond identifying legal solutions, De Las Casas enjoys learning about the business side of her clients’ operations – which gives her the opportunity to provide “more comprehensive advice that would speak not only to legal matters but also to business, and how to more efficiently run it.” That type of work can bring with it a technical learning curve – such as learning about pipeline leaks and compliance. But that sort of challenge keeps the job interesting for De Las Casas. 

“When you spend time understanding a background of an issue and how your client’s business operates, crafting a solution that actually works – and seeing it work – brings enormous satisfaction and meaning to my work,” said De Las Casas. “And that is what keeps me going every morning.”