Student Spotlight: Aidan McGirr ’25

IILJ Joyce Lowinson Scholar

Tell us about your educational background. What brought you to studying law at NYU?

When doing one of those connect-the-dots paintings, the image never really makes sense until you have all of the dots together. That is how I felt about coming to law school. 

Aidan McGirr
Aidan McGirr ’25

I studied astrophysics as an undergraduate, but my original love was for medicine. I took pre-medical classes at my university and co-founded a refugee medical clinic. Fortunately, we were surrounded by communities who trusted us and investors who shared our vision, and the clinic grew to become a durable partnership between Arizona State University and the Mayo Clinic School of Medicine. Seeking to develop the care we provided in Arizona, I received a grant to conduct my honors thesis studying the on-ground path of Syrian migrants and their journey to inclusion in resettlement countries. I spent a summer working with hospitals, clinics, and NGOs in Jordan, Germany, and Sweden. While I ultimately decided not to pursue medical school, my joy for meeting people, working on complex problems, and understanding international nuance only grew from these experiences.

From there, I completed a master’s degree in Sweden in migration and ethnic studies, focusing on EU migration policy. This program brought me into close contact with international organizations and the fascinating field of international diplomacy. My mentors and colleagues active in this field—really all the people I admired professionally—all had a legal education or worked in legal positions. I learned about the phenomenal international law program here at NYU School of Law, and, after I was offered the Joyce Lowinson Institute for International Law and Justice (IILJ) fellowship, my path was clear. The dots had been connected.

Today, I couldn’t be happier. Every day I get to learn from and alongside some of the most incredible minds I have ever met, focusing on the issues near and dear to my heart. New York City is also just the ultimate destination—for professionally and personally enriching opportunities, for invaluable encounters with experts in the field, and for late night pizza, too—and NYU Law has empowered me to create the career of my dreams. 

Tell us about your experience as a First Generation Professionals board member.

First Generation Professionals (FGP) is an organization very close to my heart, and I am delighted to serve as the Social Events Chair. 

First-generation status—being among the first generation in my family to go to college— is the identifier that connects our community. It is a close-knit group that is defined by our outsider status, but which flourishes because of the rich depth and diversity that status brings together. While many of us have faced economic or societal hardship, what I love most about the FGP community is that we provide an open and welcoming space for anyone at NYU Law to build their community and to be successful in this often-exclusive profession. 

My role as social chair is a complete privilege. My position connects the first-generation community together as peers through social events. Each event is about building community, building connections, and building the support network for us all to become better, and to bolster the legal community for our entire careers to come. 

What has been your favorite law school class so far?

International Human Rights Law, with Professor Philip Alston! The course is a masterclass, and one which I believe every student should take regardless of their professional aspirations. Professor Alston has such a rich depth of experience and knowledge. Each class was striking both for what was in the book, and (more often) what was beyond it. 

I also cannot recommend highly enough taking classes which bring together the myriad of experiences brought by JD and LLM students together. Through NYU’s robust LLM program, I have made friends and colleagues from all over the world, and each class is enriched by hearing about the global perspectives and nuances present. 

Favorite book? 

“Exterminate All the Brutes” by Sven Lindqvist. The book explores Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness through philosophical and historical reflection on the footprint colonialism has had on the African continent. It is remarkably written, striking, and thought-provoking. 

I often find myself thinking back to the lessons of this book whilst grounding my own work. In a profession as removed from many people’s experience as the law, I believe it is paramount to remain rooted in the factors which have shaped our modern world, and to consider our own position on this big blue sphere. So, I invite you all to enjoy this wonderful text too.

Posted on March 5, 2024