Phineas E. Leahey ’02 was a litigation associate at the New York office of Jones Day, where he was known as a brilliant lawyer with a deep sense of commitment to clients and his firm. He passed away on August 25, 2011, at the age of 37.
Leahey graduated with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Brooklyn College in 1997. The law piqued his interest during his undergraduate studies, and after earning a master’s degree in philosophy from Columbia University, he enrolled at Columbia Law School in 1999.
Leahey clerked for Judge Joseph M. McLaughlin at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit. He then joined Davis Polk & Wardwell as an associate and, later, worked at Jones Day, where he specialized in appellate litigation and complex civil litigation. He worked on dozens of motions and appeals in state and federal courts, including cases involving securities law, RICO, accounting malpractice, and consumer protection.
Leahey was intensely interested in the issue of viewpoint neutrality, a passion that emerged while he was an undergraduate at Brooklyn College. During his studies there, Leahey initiated pro se lawsuits against City University of New York on the issue of mandatory student fees. A decade later, he represented three CUNY students suing the university over its practice of charging full-time students $5 annually to finance the activities of the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG). Leahey argued that the arrangement gave preferential treatment to NYPIRG over other student groups.
Leahey, who served as an adjunct professor of legal writing and advocacy at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York prior to his death, is survived by his parents, Charles and Phyllis, and two brothers, Charles and Matthew.