Breaking Bread with Bamzai

Lia Keane '18
Features Editor


When the Law School released a press statement over the summer to announce that Professor Aditya Bamzai would join our faculty this semester, I remember thinking to myself, “What a cool career.” 

    An alumnus of Yale University, Bamzai graduated from the University of Chicago Law School in 2004, where he was the editor-in-chief of the Law Review, before clerking for Judge Jeffrey S. Sutton of the Sixth Circuit. Following his clerkship, Bamzai spent two years working for the Office of Legal Counsel in the U.S. Justice Department and then clerked for Justice Antonin Scalia during the 2007–08 term. Bamzai characterized both of his clerkships as having been positive experiences thanks to the mentorship he received and the unique learning opportunities that clerking provided. Bamzai even went so far as to describe his fellow Supreme Court clerks and the other people he worked alongside during that year as “[being] like family.” In response to a question about what it was like to clerk for such a prolific justice, Bamzai recounted that he would often spend hours arguing issues with Scalia and his co-clerks after a case’s oral arguments came to a close. Bamzai said that he encourages students with an interest in working for a judge to pursue a clerkship, though he noted that it is always a good idea for such individuals to consider their career goals and evaluate the level of benefit that a clerkship would provide. 

    Prior to entering academia full-time, Bamzai also worked as a partner in the appellate litigation department of Kirkland & Ellis’ Washington, D.C., office and served as counsel in the DOJ’s National Security division. Bamzai stated that during his time in the public and private sectors, he particularly enjoyed having the opportunity to work on interesting issues and collaborating with individuals whom he respected. Despite professing that he “hadn’t known much” about computer crime when he first went to work at the DOJ, it took only a few years before Bamzai had developed a specialized niche. Bamzai acknowledged that his career path reflects the oft-repeated mantra that you “can’t plan for everything.” However, he also admitted that most of his previous employment decisions were at least partially motivated by his longstanding interest in becoming a professor. 

    Bamzai described his favorite part of teaching as having the ability to interact with students, and he praised the first-year students in his civil procedure class for their high levels of engagement. Although he does not feel as if he has faced any big surprises this semester, Bamzai said that, as a new professor, it has been important for him to remember that there is no such thing as being too prepared before coming into a lecture. 

In the spring, Bamzai will draw upon his numerous areas of expertise when he teaches Computer Crime Law, a new course that blends Fourth Amendment concepts with aspects of data privacy. Bamzai stated that his goal is to make the required work interesting for students and hinted that some discussions may even touch upon storylines from the critically-acclaimed television series, The Wire, which he also indicated is one of his favorite shows. Professor Bamzai added that he thought Stringer Bell was the best character on The Wire because [Bell] represents the idea that “people can surprise you.”

    When he isn’t teaching or working on his research, Bamzai’s spare time is typically spent with his family. According to Bamzai, his children, ages two and four, have already demonstrated an interest in music and singing, though he noted that it may be a while before they are ready to officially pick up an instrument. In addition to The Wire, Bamzai also cited Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead as being among his favorite television shows. Despite liking several popular television series, Bamzai said that he wanted to avoid claiming a “generic” movie as his favorite, and succeeded in doing so by proposing that The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, an iconic western starring John Wayne, had secured that spot. Bamzai’s reading preferences span a variety of genres and include literature from the early-20th century as well as murder mysteries. A final fun fact about Professor Bamzai is that he spent a portion of his childhood growing up in Cairo. Although Bamzai said that his time in Egypt provided him with many happy memories, he lamented the fact that he has not returned to the country since leaving, though he expressed an interest in visiting Cairo again someday.    

    Bamzai’s advice for students is to “study hard,” and also to remember that both law school and our legal careers are best characterized as being “marathons, not sprints.” The Law Weekly’s staff is grateful to Professor Bamzai for taking the time to speak with us and we hope that he continues to enjoy his time teaching at UVA Law.