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In the Fight for Justice, I Want In

Admission Essay by Jamie Ehrlich / University of Chicago


“Run!” my CNN colleague whisper-shouted, throwing her notes at me as I sprinted for the heavy courtroom doors to deliver the jury’s verdict to the on-air team waiting outside. With electronics banned in the courtroom, old-school communications had me dressing down my suit by lacing up my running shoes. The last thing I heard as I sprinted from the courtroom was [former Trump campaign manager] Paul Manafort’s dejected response to the final verdict: “Yes, Sir.”

While I was sequestered in the courtroom, global chatter about this consequential trial reached a fever pitch. My already high sense of mission was buoyed knowing I was one of only two dozen reporters permitted in. Each day of the trial featured a stress-induced potpourri of peculiarities such as my observation that the well-dressed defendant, Paul Manafort, was otherwise sockless. When I wrote about this peccadillo, it surprised even me that my light-hearted story traveled around the news-thirsty world like wildfire.

Covering Congress and the West Wing after two internships in the US Senate inured me to some of the drama and ugliness of politics. Whether in the halls of power or on city streets I am adept at seeing through the theatrics to get to the heart of the matter.

My training started at a very young age. On Sunday mornings my living room regularly filled with passionate environmental activists who gathered for discussion and organizing. Their leader, my mother, exemplified the power of a feet-to-pavement approach to driving change. I became comfortable contributing ideas in these meetings and critically discussing current events at the dinner table or at school leading my peers.

With a deep respect for the power of words, I gravitated first to print media at the University of Chicago and then to television journalism. At the same time, weaponized lies by unscrupulous news sources were increasingly blurring the lines of reality. Recently, threats of violence have made actual weapons part of my everyday life. One of my first assignments at CNN was to pull Maryland court records the day after the Capital Gazette mass shooting. Ever since, CNN’s DC bureau has stationed an armed guard on every floor. I am grateful for the protection but it will take more than armed guards to protect our democracy and the rule of law.

Reporting on the chaos, I see lawyers rushing in to defend the Constitution and American ideals. I see lawyers at CNN defending our access to the White House and I see Congressional counsel drafting oversight subpoenas. I see compassionate pro bono lawyers greeting recent immigrants at airports and traveling to the US/Mexican border to reunite children with their families. Their tireless advocacy countering some of the most pernicious forces in our society informs my own impression of the legal profession and guides our nation to better realize our founding principles. It is, in large part, up to the legal profession to keep us from losing sight of what we stand for.

I do relish my front row seat but I am no longer content to simply observe the fight for justice. I want in.

My first major step to that end is applying to Boston College Law School. Writing, editing, and producing print and live news has sharpened my communication skills and helped me develop a personal framework for analysis of the law. Similarly, the process of writing my thesis under the supervision of a renowned University of Chicago Law professor gave me a structural way of thinking about the law and how it translates into practice.

What I find particularly exciting about BC Law is that it encourages all 1L students to participate in ABA client counseling and negotiation competitions and 2L students to participate in the Wendell F. Grimes Intramural Moot Court competition. At the University of Chicago, I spent nearly all of my four years of extracurricular time between our school newspaper, The Chicago Maroon, and Model UN competitions, where we were world champions. There is nothing like competition to teach the competitive. I would love to develop my appellate skills at BC Law.

With its proud history of experiential learning, BC Law would put me in contact with some of the world’s finest professors. I also know of the ethical core of BC Law from working for US Senator, Ed Markey ’72 in Washington, DC, a proud BC Double Eagle and a wonderful mentor. As I continue my academic journey in pursuit of justice, I would be so happy to do so at BC Law with such a powerful network in the Boston area where I hope to practice.

Illustration by Dana Smith