Benjamin Brickner ’10 understands the importance of long-term investing. In spring 2003, the avid outdoorsman spent three months hiking from Georgia to Pennsylvania along the Appalachian Trail. The mental discipline he gained from the experience has proven useful in a different sort of journey—his four-year pursuit of a joint degree from Columbia Law School and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. (In order to complete both degree programs, Brickner spent the year before his first year and part of his third year of law school living in Cambridge, Mass.)
“You have to be extremely disciplined and have a long focus,” Brickner says in discussing his more than 1,000-mile trek. “It’s absolutely like law school, which can involve focusing intensively on a few things for a long time.”
Now Brickner, a graduation co-chair, is anticipating the end of his time at Columbia Law School, as well as the start of a full-time position this fall at Debevoise & Plimpton, where he worked last year as a summer associate. And the interest in politics that inspired him to study at the Kennedy School remains strong. Prior to law school, Brickner served as an adviser and aide to former New Jersey Governor Richard J. Codey, and his involvement in state politics stretches back to teenage years spent advocating for local land preservation.
While Bricker’s immediate future is in a law firm setting, he is open to the idea of someday returning to the political arena. But there will be plenty of time for considering such decisions down the road. For now, he is focused on the present.
“With law school, graduation, and work before that, it’s been so busy,” says Brickner, who may decide to complete the remaining Pennsylvania-to-Maine portion of the Appalachian Trail after taking the bar exam this summer. “The period of reflection [during the hike] would be very helpful in gaining perspective for the next seven years of my life.”