Benjamin A. Cornfeld ’14
Counsel for the Appellants
Benjamin A. Cornfeld ’14 had little experience with public speaking or debate prior to his participation in moot courts at Columbia Law School. Now as a finalist in the Harlan Fiske Stone Moot Competition, the prospect of being peppered with questions by a panel of esteemed judges doesn’t intimidate him. Although he does admit to getting some extra legal-themed performance experience as a member of Law Revue, the student musical comedy group.
“For me, oral argument is a lot more about preparation than presentation,” says Cornfeld, who has focused his argument strategy on identifying weaknesses in his brief that the judges would likely home in on.
He credits his experience as a senior editor on the Columbia Law Review with helping him develop a very different skill—one that has served him well in the brief-writing portion of the competition.
“The editing process requires you to be extremely precise and careful,” says Cornfeld. “In the brief-writing process, I’ve focused on overturning as many stones as possible to make sure that I’m not missing any important line of cases and that my argument is based on the most closely analogous line of law. Those are all skills that the Law Review helped me develop.”
Cornfeld also honed his research skills during a summer internship at the New York State Attorney General’s Consumer Frauds and Protection Bureau. There, he worked on a case involving the failure of banks to properly record when property changed hands.
He has also participated in an externship at the MFY Legal Services Workplace Justice Project representing indigent clients in wage and hour disputes with employers.
Cornfeld will join Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan in New York City this fall. He credits the Stone Moot Court, which is part of the Law School’s Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison Moot Court Program, with giving him an opportunity to practice the kind of research and argument that will be essential as a litigator.
“In the classroom, we’re taught principles in different fields of law, but when you’re actually writing a brief you have to get much more granular,” he says. “It’s the best opportunity to build a case from the ground up.”