|On December 14, 2023 I visited the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, surrounded by a small group of colleagues, friends, and family, for the culmination of a more than four year journey from law school through the bar exam. Judge Greg Katsas was kind enough to offer to swear me in to the D.C. Bar after I learned that I passed. Although the oath is something of a formality, standing before everyone in Judge Katsas’s chambers summoned several emotions within me.
First, a sense of relief! From Fall 2019 through Spring 2023, being in the part-time evening program at the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University allowed me to continue our crucial work at JWI in restoring the moral ground of the law. However, juggling the work of JWI during the day, courses at night, and studying on the weekend was an exhausting four-year marathon. In the final two years, I added editing the George Mason Law Review, as one of its Articles Editors, to my responsibilities. Graduation this past May meant trading those obligations for the comparative two month sprint of preparations for the bar exam. When I learned that I passed, an enormous weight felt lifted off my chest.
|Next, abiding satisfaction. Choosing Scalia Law was one of the best decisions in my life. As Prof. Arkes likes to say of certain schools, “It features a faculty into whose hands you would entrust your children.” Most conservative law students are fortunate to have one or maybe two professors who share their commitments on the campus. At Scalia, I was treated to (in no particular order) David Bernstein for constitutional law and for whom I served as a research assistant; Judge Doug Ginsburg for three seminars; Jennifer Mascott for two seminars co-taught with Justice Brett Kavanaugh and former Assistant Attorney General Steve Engel; Helen Alvare for property; Adam Mossoff for guiding me through a draft law review article; and even our dear friend Robby George for a remote class on jurisprudence. Beyond the incredible faculty, my satisfaction extended to my fellow part-time students. We pushed each other to graduate despite the bizarre events of 2020 rendering law school completely remote, career changes arising, and personal responsibilities intervening. Additionally, my peers in the Federalist Society chapter on campus were among my closest friends, even affording me the chance to partake in my first Federalist Society debate, over “A Better Originalism” in 2021.
|Finally, gratitude. Specific thanks are first due to my family, who sacrificed countless nights, weekends, and vacations to plan around my academic commitments. My devoted wife Meghan, who brought our son into the world during my third year, deserves as much if not more credit for finishing the marathon than I do. Next, thanks to my close colleagues at JWI, Michael Maibach and Daniel Osborne, whose hard work, patience, diligence, and accommodating spirit kept the JWI train humming when, say, I was taking exams or delivering cross-examination in trial advocacy.
Lastly, as the reason I was even in a position to succeed in law school, I want to thank Hadley Arkes, who believed in me. Even in my moments of doubt, he reassured me that I could handle each challenge, viewing my success in law school as important for the long-term success of the JWI mission. His scholarship, what we sometimes dub the Natural Law Lens, greatly informed my understanding of my coursework in law school. I view my legal career to be an extension of his and JWI’s mission to restore the Founders’ understanding of the moral ground of the law to our legal culture. And for that north star, I’ll be ever grateful.
JWI’s work is more important than ever and I will be recommitting myself to it, with a surge of new energy from the addition of Gerry Bradley as Co-Director and a game-changing grant JWI receieved over the summer to expand the Institute. Now with a J.D. in hand, I will be taking some of the teaching responsibilities for leading JWI’s seminars. As we have been saying, the best for JWI is yet to come.