Matthew Lemle Amsterdam
Upon meeting Matthew Lemle Amsterdam ’13, his allegiance to Columbia immediately becomes apparent. Amsterdam’s smart-phone case, scarf, and lapel pin are all Columbia blue. He is quick to point out that school and family pride blend together in this instance—Amsterdam’s father and grandfather both attended the Law School, and the Columbia College graduate says he practically grew up on the Morningside Heights campus.
Amsterdam remained close to home while amassing an impressive background in public interest law. After his first year of law school, he interned at the Bronx Supreme Court, a mere three blocks away from Yankee Stadium. Amsterdam, who has been a Yankees season-ticket holder since 1998, assisted a judge with research for jury charges and benefited from broad access at the court. “I was specially cleared to sit in on a search warrant hearing for a case handled by an undercover police officer investigating drug crimes,” he recalls.
Amsterdam broadened his experience to the federal level by serving as an intern in the public defender’s office at the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. He assisted defendants with plea negotiations and helped represent a young man who he believed had been falsely accused of robbery.
“It was very rewarding to help clients through what is often the hardest time in their lives,” he says.
Amsterdam is committed to staying in the city to pursue a public interest legal career, but the avid Yankees fan confesses that there is one other path he might consider. “I’m still also pursuing my lifelong dream of working in professional sports,” he says with a grin.