Building a case
University of Missouri alumnus and attorney Patrick Strawbridge looks back on his years at MU and experiences at the U.S. Supreme Court
July 10, 2020
In early May, Patrick Strawbridge participated in the most important conference call of his life: Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Strawbridge presented arguments over the phone to the U.S. Supreme Court defending President Donald Trump in cases involving Congressional efforts to subpoena his financial records. The Supreme Court issued a split ruling on the case Thursday.
Strawbridge is known throughout the country as a rising attorney with ties to conservative groups such as The Federalist Society and a resume that includes a clerkship for Justice Clarence Thomas. Strawbridge’s professional and intellectual roots are at Mizzou, where he studied journalism and served as editor-in-chief of the student newspaper, The Maneater.
“It was large enough to give me every experience and opportunity and to meet every kind of person you’d ever want to meet,” Strawbridge said of his time as Mizzou. “With the journalism school especially, it felt like a small school experience in a lot of ways.”
At MU, Strawbridge worked at The Maneater alongside both Aamer Madhani, who is now a White House reporter for The Associated Press, and David Scott, who is now deputy managing editor for The Associated Press. Strawbridge said he went to The Maneater’s first meeting of the year, got a story assignment and never looked back, eventually earning the title of editor-in-chief.
The 1997 Missouri School of Journalism graduate went on to work at the Omaha World Herald after graduation and covered crime, federal law enforcement and the federal courthouse. Strawbridge then decided to pursue law at Creighton University after he found himself enjoying writing about legal issues.
“It turns out journalism is an excellent way to prepare for law school because it teaches you to write clearly and to write on deadline,” Strawbridge said. “And those are all the skills I learned in the basement of Brady Commons working for The Maneater.”
After earning his law degree, Strawbridge served as a law clerk to Justice Howard Dana of the Supreme Judicial Court of Maine and Judge Morris Sheppard Arnold of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit before working with Thomas on the Supreme Court.
“It’s a real gift to be able to have a mentor like the kind you develop when you work for a judge for a year,” Strawbridge said. “Each of the judges I’ve worked for were very formative, but my year at the Supreme Court was an amazing experience. It was humbling and involved a lot of work, but it also forged a lot of bonds not only between Justice Thomas and me but also with my co-clerks.”
Most recently, Strawbridge defended Trump with his firm, Consovoy McCarthy PLLC, against congressional subpoenas seeking to obtain Trump’s financial records from his accounting firm and banks.
“I’m blessed to have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and our firm was lucky enough to be selected to help represent the president on a number of matters — very unique constitutional matters,” he said.
Another high-profile case Strawbridge was involved in was representing Students for Fair Admissions, the group that sued Harvard University for allegedly discriminating against Asian Americans by setting a higher admissions bar for them. (A judge found the practice was legal, and it’s currently under appeal.)
Strawbridge said his interest in conservative thought sharpened over his years in school and his career.
“With its journalism tradition, Mizzou values and protects free speech,” Strawbridge said. “Certainly, that was an agreed upon value when I was at MU, and it was not viewed as a particularly liberal or conservative view. Regardless of the idea, there is still a right to express it and oppose it.”