Laura Ingraham '91 Says Law School Helped Her Media Career
Talk radio's Laura Ingraham, a conservative political commentator and 1991 graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law, returned to UVA on Tuesday to discuss politics and how her J.D. prepared her for a career arguing her point of view in the media.
"I kept on watching stuff on television and thinking, 'I can do better than that,'" she said.
Ingraham is host of the nationally syndicated "The Laura Ingraham Show," a best-selling author and the official guest host for "The O'Reilly Factor" on Fox News.
She credited Virginia Law classes such as Criminal Procedure, taught by the late William Stuntz, with sharpening her debate skills. She also praised the Law School's diverse faculty for helping her to challenge and refine her own opinions.
Virginia "wasn't a place where you were going to have ideological purity among faculty members," Ingraham said. "To me, personally, that was really important."
Ingraham had been a speech writer in the Reagan administration before pursuing her J.D. After she graduated, she clerked for the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York and on the U.S. Supreme Court, then worked two years for a global law firm in corporate criminal defense.
"I thought, 'You know, I went to law school, I had these two clerkships, but I'm not sure I'm doing what I'm supposed to do,'" she said.
Looking for venues to express her ideas, Ingraham began writing op-ed pieces that were eventually published, which led to other opportunities in the media.
"What do you really love to do? What motivates you?" Ingraham said. "Work that into your legal career." "Sometimes you'll go on a zig-zag path," she added. "But it will make getting there much sweeter, or at least it did for me."
Ingraham spent much of her talk discussing current events and politics. She criticized the Obama administration and its difficulties rolling out healthcare.gov, but she also shared her frustration about perceived failures in GOP policies and what she views as an increasingly political Supreme Court.
Ingraham did find one trait she has in common with Obama, though — both had the courage to pursue a less-traditional career path with their law degrees. "I really respect that about him," she said.
The Federalist Society sponsored Ingraham's talk.