Alexa Summer ’09 came to Columbia seeking an intellectually challenging environment, especially among classmates, she says. As a Harvard University undergraduate, she majored in sociology and art history, though determined that a Ph.D. in either subject—as much as she relished both—was not in her future. She decided on law school during the summer between her sophomore and junior years, while reading Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand.
“Rand made me think about purpose and happiness through one’s vocation,” says Summer, who found plenty of purpose (and happiness) in her law studies. Among the professors she fondly recalls are Curtis Milhaupt for Corporations and Merritt Fox for Securities. The Trial Practice seminar, taught by Karen Shatzkin ’77, fostered deeper thinking into her chosen career path, says Summer.
“I loved studying law, but ultimately for me it’s about integrating knowledge with practice,” she says.
Her extracurricular activities reflect the balance she kept between knowledge and practice. She was the executive articles editor of the Columbia Journal of Law & the Arts, and interned with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York and on the Second Circuit, among other undertakings.
In November, she’ll join the litigation department at Morrison and Foerster in San Francisco, focusing on securities and white collar work, though will take a leave in fall 2010 to clerk for Judge William Alsup in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
“Columbia was the right mixture of practical classes, skills, substance, and theory,” Summer says.