Election 2012, Politics, R. Ted Cruz, Regent University School of Law, UVA Law, Vanderbilt

The Return of the Lawyer-Politician

Attorney retirement home?

Well, the election is over, and a gaggle of new Congressfolks and Senators are coming to Washington in January. Of this population, 43 percent are lawyers, reversing the decline in lawyer politicians. So let’s review the incoming class and you can not-so-quietly judge our new legislators for their education and experience in the comments.

Ten new members attended Harvard Law School, so congratulations Crimson for continuing your tradition as the shadowy institution ruling our lives. There are also some inspiring stories among the new members. Like Joseph P. Kennedy, who lifted himself up by the bootstraps and managed to get into Harvard without any connections whatsoever. Everyone’s education info and any interesting career tidbits are provided below.


  • Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) — University of Wisconsin, 1989
  • Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) — Harvard University, 1995 (Also a clerk for Justice William Rehnquist and Judge J. Michael Luttig, before serving as Texas Solicitor General . If that isn’t a resume for a Tea Party candidate, I don’t know what is)
  • Sen. Jon Donnelly (D-IN) — Notre Dame, 1981 (I don’t want to suggest anything about his zealous advocacy for his clients, but he left the law to run a rubber stamp company)
  • Sen. Heidi Heitcamp (D-ND) — Lewis & Clark, 1980
  • Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) — Georgetown University, 1978
  • Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) — Harvard University, 1983
  • Sen. Angus King (I-ME) — University of Virginia, 1969
  • Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) — University of Connecticut, 2002
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) — Rutgers, 1976

House of Representatives

  • Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY) — University of Kentucky, 2001
  • Rep. Susan Brooks (R-IN) — Indiana University, 1985
  • Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA) — University of Pennsylvania, 1986 (Worked for his father-in-law’s firm in Scranton representing Dunder Mifflin)
  • Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) — Harvard University, 2000 (The twin brother of Democratic keynoter Julian Castro worked at Akin Gump with his brother until they founded their own lawfirm and struck it rich winning a huge personal-injury case)
  • Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) — John Marshall, 2008 (A general litigator with his own firm. According to the Internet, his website used to have funky music. Seems to be gone now though. I don’t trust a criminal defense firm that shows pictures of people in handcuffs…seems to be setting the bar kind of low)
  • Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR) — Harvard University, 2002
  • Rep. John Delaney (D-MD) — Georgetown University, 1988 (Founded his own companies rather than sticking with the law. It seems to have worked out — he’ll be the fourth richest member of Congress)
  • Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) — Harvard University, 2004 (Served as a JAG lawyer in the Navy before teaching at Florida Coastal School of Law)
  • Rep. Bill Enyart (D-IL) — Southern Illinois University, 1979 (Enyart ran his own firm specializing in Social Security disability work. He also served as adjutant general of the Illinois National Guard, proudly defending Illinois from Iowa)
  • Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-CT) — Yale, 1985
  • Rep. Lois Frankel (D-FL) — Georgetown University, 1973
  • Rep. Pete Gallego (D-TX) — University of Texas, 1985
  • Rep. Joe Garcia (D-FL) — University of Miami, 1991
  • Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) — Harvard University, 1983
  • Rep. George Holding (R-NC) — Wake Forest University, 1996
  • Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA) — Boston College, 1990
  • Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) — NYU, 1997
  • Rep. David Joyce (R-OH) — University of Dayton, 1982 (At age 30 he was elected the youngest prosecutor in the country…so there’s that).
  • Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy (D-MA) — Harvard University, 2009 (Ending the 2-year drought with no Kennedys in Congress)
  • Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ) — University of Arizona, 1979
  • Rep. Ann McLane Kuster (D-NH) — Georgetown University, 1984
  • Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM) — University of New Mexico, 1987
  • Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) — University of Virginia, 1992
  • Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY) — Yeshiva University, 2002
  • Koch Industries General Counsel

    Rep. Luke Messer (R-IN) — Vanderbilt University, 1994 (Former legal counsel to Koch Industries where this speech is given weekly)
  • Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA) — NYU, 1994
  • Rep. Tom Rice (R-SC) — University of South Carolina, 1982
  • Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-PA) — Notre Dame, 1990 (Was an associate dean at Regent University School of Law, televangelist Pat Robertson’s pet school)
  • Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) — Arizona State University, 2004 (M.A., J.D., Ph.D. flipping back and forth between academia and law…best of both worlds I guess)
  • Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) — University of Maryland, 2006
  • Rep. Juan Vargas (D-CA) — Harvard University, 1991 (Played pickup basketball against President Obama at Harvard)
  • Rep. Filemon Vela (D-TX) — University of Texas, 1987

So there you have it, the incoming class of lawyer-politicians. Begin lamenting how many people who graduated after you are in Congress now.

Joe Patrice is the author of Recess Appointment, a blog about political rhetoric, and he’ll be dropping in occasionally to write about the intersection of law and politics. To answer the question that you’re probably about to ask, he got his J.D. at NYU and spent ten years working at a Biglaw firm and a white-collar defense boutique. His favorite word is sesquipedalian.

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