On June 6th, former Georgetown Center for the Constitution Executive Director Ilya Shapiro announced his resignation from Georgetown University Law Center in the Wall Street Journal after a 122-day investigation over a poorly-worded tweet about the nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson.
While Shapiro—a highly regarded originalist legal scholar—admits that his tweet was “inartful,” it’s clear to anyone not motivated by politics that his intent was not racist or malicious. Still, though Shapiro technically won the investigation, he believes that remaining at Georgetown would have been untenable as “In the name of [Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion], it stifles intellectual diversity, undermines equal opportunity, and excludes dissenting voices.”
Shapiro writes, “The university didn’t fire me, but it yielded to the progressive mob, abandoned free speech, and created a hostile environment.” Further, he states that “[Georgetown Dean William Trainor] painted a target on my back, such that I could never do the job I was hired for, advancing the mission of the Center for the Constitution.”
Shapiro’s status as a prominent right-wing legal scholar ensured that his story received national news attention. However, Shapiro’s story is not an anomaly. Right-leaning professors and students face similar environments at top schools across the country. Some institutions including top-ranked Yale Law School don’t employ any prominent conservative professors or administrators.
So, how should right-leaning students who hope to attend top institutions navigate the law school application process amid toxic campus free speech environments and crazy COVID restrictions?
As with any important decision, the first step should be to do extensive research and determine whether you can get in and what policies you can and cannot handle. For example, during my decision process, I knew I wanted to 1. Go somewhere I could speak freely without fear of ostracism 2. Avoid any more COVID-related mandates 3. Avoid debt as much as possible, and 4. Not freeze to death (I’m a lifelong Texan).
These four factors immediately eliminated most top fourteen law schools from my list. Even with concerns about affordability and weather aside—most top law schools lie well above both the Mason-Dixon and six-figure-debt lines—almost every top private institution still had mask mandates and online classes in place as of January 2022. Although I had long dreamed of going to Georgetown, Duke, or Vanderbilt, it was clear these institutions were not the best fit for me.
With the help of my pre-law advisor, I narrowed down my list to seven schools that I thought would be the most prestigious, affordable, and tolerant options available, given my preferences. Because all seven schools had satisfied my free speech and COVID concerns, I was able to base my final decision on money, location, and prestige. I ultimately chose to attend Texas A&M University—the second-ranked law school in Texas and the fastest rising law school in the nation—over several top twenty-five institutions because of its location.
While schools like Yale, Duke, Georgetown, Vanderbilt, and Michigan (brrr!) were not right for me, I know other conservative law students who are attending some of these institutions. It serves as an important reminder that it is okay to have a different set of preferences.
In the end, the best law school decision-making strategy is to seek the counsel of advisors, family, and friends who have your best interests in mind. There is nothing wrong with attending progressive-dominated institutions if you conclude that a degree from a specific school is the best way to reach your future goals.
Still, given the toxic environment on many campuses, it is important to be cognizant of what you are potentially getting yourself into should you publicly cross the Progressive orthodoxy.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.