To commemorate the repose of Will Consovoy, we will be posting reflections and expressions of appreciation for his contributions to the law and the conservative legal movement.
“Will Consovoy was deeply dedicated to the rule of law. An anti-snob, he loved the Eagles and Bruce Springsteen. He fought fearlessly for what is right – the Harvard litigation will be his legacy.”
-Ashley Keller, Partner, Keller Postman
“William Consovoy was a generational legal talent. He had the sort of prodigious legal mind that made him the smartest person in a room full of geniuses. He could see arguments that eluded everyone else. And he could win cases that not only struck others as unwinnable, but that transformed the way we understand the law.
Will was a passionate conservative. He devoted his professional life to blessing his clients, his colleagues, and the conservative legal movement. He took cases that others wouldn’t and gave a voice to those who would’ve otherwise been left behind. And he worked tirelessly to promote the rule of law. Everyone should know that and give thanks that Will gave so much to the legal system we’ve inherited.
What’s harder for everyone to understand is that, as unmatched as Will was as a lawyer, he was even more unmatchable as a friend. He was thoughtful and kind. The sort of man who would remember, even in the midst of his own crises, to love those around him. Who supported us while facing challenges that dwarfed ours. Who answered his phone on the first ring in the middle of the night, just in case it was a friend who needed something. And who put others’ needs before his own, no matter the cost, and no matter the occasion.
I met Will when we clerked together at the very beginning of our legal careers. And one of the most amazing things about him was that he never changed. None of his successes went to his head. And he treated everyone—from his closest friends to the person he just met—with the same loving smile, the same warm heart, and the same generous spirit.
He was the man we dream of being, while being the lawyer we couldn’t imagine.
It’s the bitterest imaginable tragedy that Will would be felled by the very brain that made him so transcendentally brilliant, kind, and generous. He leaves behind one of the Nation’s finest law firms. Countless friends and family members whose lives are poorer for his absence. And an American legal tradition that owes him an inestimable debt.”
-Hon. Andrew Oldham, United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit
“Will did so many things better than anyone else. I’ll just mention two.
His cases were almost always high profile efforts to move the ball. He would frequently find himself in court talking to judges who not only didn’t like his case, but didn’t like his first principles. One would think that might mean they didn’t like him — but Will’s easygoing, professional, and personable style in court made friends of even his interlocutors. He earned their respect.
Will got people who shared his first principles into the fight. He founded his own law firm to do cases that many of us dreamed about filing but corporate firms wouldn’t let us, and he found a way to grow that firm, make it successful, and provide a home for more and more young lawyers to do the kind of litigation it is worth getting out of bed to do.
When Will called and asked me to try the SFFA v. Harvard case, I was initially reluctant and a lot of professional colleagues counseled me to stay away. But Will told me that it would be the most important thing I would ever do in the profession. I trusted him and he was right. That’s how I became yet another lawyer that Will convinced to get off the sidelines. And there will never be a better coach, teammate, and friend than Will Consovoy.”
“Will Consovoy (Z”L) was a brilliant legal mind who inspired so many of us to work to achieve the noble goal of equal rights for all Americans. He was a big man with a big laugh, a big smile, and a big and generous heart.
Will also had the most important virtue anyone can have—courage. That courage led him and his best friend Tom McCarthy to leave a safe and comfortable Biglaw partnership to form a two-man law firm in 2014 to represent Students for Fair Admissions in two valiant lawsuits to restore the founding principles of the civil rights movement. Without his leadership and dedication, these lawsuits would not have materialized.
His laughter, wit and generous nature will be missed by his family, colleagues and friends.”
-Edward Blum, Founder and President of Students for Fair Admissions
“It was a privilege to have known one of my heroes, William Consovoy.
Will dedicated his life to fighting for our Constitution’s guarantee of equality. Through his work on the Harvard lawsuit, he defended Asian Americans who were marginalized by the universities, the media, and the courts.
As someone who has faced discrimination, I felt like he was my lawyer, fighting for my rights and the rights of countless Asian Americans in future generations. He sacrificed everything to tell our story and take our case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Will gave a voice to the voiceless and made our nation more just and inclusive. He vindicated the principle in the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal” and made the United States “a more perfect union.”
William Consovoy was one of the greatest civil rights lawyers in American history. I will spend the rest of my life honoring his legacy and striving to live up to the example he set for all of us.”
“Will Consovoy left a large and lasting mark on the law and the legal profession. His decision to leave the comfort and security of a prestigious law firm to launch his own practice with Tom McCarthy in 2014 was a decision that changed the course of history and the trajectory of American law. Will showed other lawyers how to build a successful and prosperous legal practice without accepting the Faustian bargain imposed by corporate executives who demand that law firms forswear representation of clients and causes that offend the political left. And he provided employment and career opportunities for many talented attorneys who, like Will, refused to be encumbered by the political-correctness regimes imposed by elite law firms and their corporate clientele.
Will was fearless. He willingly represented clients that were shunned by elite law firms. He took on powerful institutions. He exposed the odious treatment of Asian-Americans by Harvard College’s admissions office, and in doing so brought national attention to the anti-Asian practices of elite universities. His efforts led Harvard to significantly increase the number of Asian-American matriculants in response to the embarrassing evidence that Will’s lawsuit brought to light. Will has already won his case against Harvard, regardless of how the Supreme Court rules this summer.
Will was also a valued and treasured friend to many. He remained down to earth despite his many successes, and was never contentious or condescending toward anyone. He remained true to his New Jersey roots and was an ardent Philadelphia Eagles fan. Will saw many triumphs—from Shelby County v. Holder to Super Bowl 52—and was on the verge of even greater triumphs when he was tragically and prematurely taken from us.
I will always be thankful for Will’s life and career and friendship, and his contributions to the law will never be forgotten.”