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David He

Reaching Out

Winter 2012

David He ’13 received a behind-the-scenes preview of work at a corporate law firm even before arriving at Columbia Law School. He, who has a background in applied economics, worked as a client development analyst in the New York City office of Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, where he reported on developments in Asian capital markets, in addition to handling other tasks. At Cleary, whether he was compiling a report on competing firms or trying to plan out an ideal career path, He relied on the advice of his direct supervisor.

“I could count on him to help me talk through all my thoughts but to not push me in one direction or the other,” He says. Based on that balanced advice, He felt certain that pursuing a career in law would be his best move.

As a law student, He immediately sought out expert sources for guidance and took advantage of various mentorship opportunities, including the Law School’s Peer Mentoring Program, which pairs incoming students with those in their second and third years of law school. Those experiences were so beneficial that, a year later, He made it a point to serve as a peer mentor to 14 incoming students. “That first year of law school is such a stressful and uncertain time,” he says. “We’ve all gone through the same thing, so it’s instinctual to want to reach out and help.”

He’s commitment to mentoring has also crossed over into his work as co-president of the Columbia Business and Law Association. During his second year at the Law School, he launched the organization’s mentoring program, which pairs 60 first-year students with 15 student mentors through a comprehensive survey and matching system.

“What is most helpful is impartial advice,” explains He, who plans to practice corporate law at Davis Polk after graduation. “I realized that as a mentor you don’t always have to provide the answers—the importance lies in outlining the options.”