Jason W. Schnier
For someone as globally minded as Jason W. Schnier ’15, Columbia Law School was the perfect place to launch a transnational law career.
The Law School’s preeminence in international law and governance was attractive to Schnier, who was equally dazzled by the kaleidoscopic diversity of New York City, which the Florida native explored with the same diligence he brought to his studies.
“Columbia Law School prepares you to think critically,” Schnier says. “Lawyers receive training to think structurally to make far-reaching goals fit together.”
At Harvard College, Schnier studied Islamic history and Arabic. As a faculty research assistant, he translated Spanish- and Hebrew-language archival materials and traveled twice to the Chilean Foreign Ministry Archives in Santiago, Chile, to work on a forthcoming multivolume biography of Henry Kissinger. Schnier also studied abroad in Jordan, Morocco, and Israel. Before beginning law school, he spent an additional year studying and traveling in the Middle East.
At Columbia Law School, Schnier immersed himself in public international law, studying closely with Professors Sarah H. Cleveland and Matthew C. Waxman and exploring the variety of roles lawyers play within and among national and global institutions. In a seminar co-taught by Waxman and former U.S. Senator Joseph I. Lieberman—Congress in American Foreign and Defense Policy—Schnier also examined how domestic and international law help legislators shape policy.
A James Kent Scholar and Powell Fellow in Corporate Law, Schnier forged a significant relationship with Professor Zohar Goshen, director of the Center for Israeli Legal Studies, for whom he served as a research assistant. In early 2014, Schnier worked closely with Goshen to organize Columbia Law School’s first student-led trip to Israel, during which they met with high-tech entrepreneurs, human rights activists, and political leaders. One highlight of the trip was a meeting with Dr. Iyad Zahalka, the chief judge of the Jerusalem Sharia Court.
“International lawyers, whether representing individuals, businesses, or governments, have immense potential to contribute to peace, development, and security,” Schnier says.
Schnier served as a Sidebar editor of the Columbia Law Review and was a member of the Columbia Society for International Law, and worked extensively with the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project to advocate for refugees across the Middle East seeking resettlement. He traveled to Amman, Jordan, this past spring break to help Iraqi and Syrian refugees fleeing ISIS oppression.
Schnier spent his summers helping to prosecute international narcotics trafficking at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, advising on United Nations affairs and international investment claims at the U.S. State Department’s Office of the Legal Adviser, and working as a summer associate at Sullivan & Cromwell. Earlier this year, he returned to the State Department as a legal extern at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations.
After graduation, Schnier will clerk for Judge R. Lanier Anderson III of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit. He then plans to move into the private sector, working on international infrastructure and energy projects in the developing world.