October 8, 2012

Profile in Liberty: Ilya Shapiro

By: Dawn Heuer

Ilya Shapiro is a senior fellow in constitutional studies at the Cato Institute and editor-in-chief of the Cato Supreme Court Review. He is a busy man, full of passion for what he does. He is truly a champion in advancing liberty; his work is a testament to that.

A career to be proud of

Before Shapiro began his career at Cato he was involved with a myriad of other organizations.

I am an alumnus of Princeton University, the London School of Economics, and the University of Chicago Law School. Before joining Cato, I worked as a special assistant/advisor to the Multi-National Force in Iraq on rule of law issues and practiced international, political, commercial, and antitrust litigation at Patton Boggs and Cleary Gottlieb—two big law firms. I’ve been an adjunct professor at the George Washington University Law School and, before entering private practice, I clerked for Judge E. Grady Jolly of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. I am now a member of the Legal Studies Institute’s board of visitors at The Fund for American Studies, and was an inaugural Washington Fellow at the National Review Institute,

Advancing Liberty

When asked why he chose to pursue a career in advancing liberty he had this say,

I was born in Moscow, Russia, when that was the Soviet Union. My parents, who were engineers, moved our family to Canada because they didn’t want me growing up in that environment. I was taught from a very early age that communism was an awful thing. After reading the likes of John Locke, the Federalist Papers, and Ayn Rand, it was clear that my passion aligned with the ideal of advancing liberty. I became involved with IHS—including as a Koch Summer Fellow, when I interned at CEI—during college, the Institute of Economic Affairs when I was in London, then the Federalist Society in law school, and away we went.

The Importance of AFF

I became involved with AFF as soon as I moved to DC more than eight years ago, attending panel discussions, happy hours, and all the other events AFF has to offer. I love being surrounded by a world of ideas and people who care about them; I’ve met friends, mentors, mentees, and even the occasional date at these events. I was also given the opportunity to write for Doublethink and sit on several panels.

Right place, right time, right person

Ilya leaves us with a final piece of advice:

If I could give advice to young professionals it would be to follow your passion, do it well, and be open to opportunities. Figure out your own path rather than letting inertia or the path of least resistance guide you.  Especially in Washington, you’ll eventually be in the right place at the right time; you have to make sure you’re the right person—that you’ve built up your own skills and intellectual capital—when those “right times” present themselves.  Set goals, continue to learn, and have a reason for what you’re doing.