David P. Friedman
Like millions of others, David P. Friedman ’14 was riveted by news of the global financial crisis that began with the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008. But for Friedman, a native New Yorker who was then an undergraduate student at Dartmouth College, the investment bank’s demise was deeply personal: His father was a technology systems operator at Lehman when it went under.
“It sparked an interest because I was personally affected,” Friedman says of the Great Recession. “I thought law school would be a great way to learn more about the rules underlying the financial system.”
Columbia Law School stood out because of its top-notch corporate law curriculum and faculty, including Professor Robert J. Jackson Jr., an expert on corporate governance issues whom Friedman heard speak on Admitted Students Day.
Once he arrived on campus—just a few miles from his home on the east side of Manhattan—Friedman sought Jackson out as a mentor. The former Treasury Department adviser guided Friedman on his Columbia Law Review note about parallel—and often conflicting—rules governing M&A transactions from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the Delaware Court of Chancery. Friedman counts writing the note as one of his most significant experiences at the Law School.
“In legal writing, you hit a lot of road blocks, including research that cuts against what you thought your argument would be,” he says. “Understanding how to resolve issues as they come up rather than glossing over inconsistencies is an important tool.”
Friedman had such a positive experience with his own note that he ran for and won the position of executive notes editor for his third year, helping second-year students with their own writing. He also served on the board of the Columbia Real Estate Law Society, took as many corporate law courses as he could, and was honored for outstanding academic achievement as a James Kent Scholar.
During the first two years after he graduates, Friedman will clerk for Judge Amalya L. Kearse of the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and Judge Naomi R. Buchwald of the Southern District of New York. Eventually, he hopes to practice corporate law or pursue his interest in financial policy.
He’s already making a name for himself in the field. Before law school, Friedman kept up on the financial crisis by reading the works of journalists and scholars such as Steven M. Davidoff, who writes for The New York Times. Now some of those same people are keeping up with him. In February, Davidoff cited Friedman’s note in a law review article about merger litigation.