Peter Fountain ’15
Counsel for the Appellees
When Peter Fountain was a first-year law student, he recognized the names of some of the Harlan Fiske Stone Moot Court finalists—and not just because they went to Columbia Law School.
As an undergraduate at Binghamton University (SUNY), Fountain earned national honors in policy debate. There, he competed against 2013 Harlan Fiske Stone Moot Court finalist Daniel Straus ’14. Will Sears ’14, who won best oralist in the 2013 competition, served as a judge.
Fountain’s debate experience taught him to shape arguments with an eye toward convincing judges. Still, he has adjusted his approach slightly.
“Both moot court and debate involve research and advocacy,” Fountain says, “but in debate, it’s your opponent asking the questions, so avoidance is expected. In moot court, where you’re answering judges, candor and careful concessions are a better approach.”
Serving as executive editor of the Law School’s Journal of Environmental Law helped Fountain develop his writing and research skills further, as did a year as a research assistant for Professor James S. Liebman.
Fountain also worked as a teaching assistant for Professors Benjamin L. Liebman and Robert E. Scott, and he found that leading TA sessions has helped in oral argument, both preparing for judges’ questions and thinking on his feet—useful skills in the competition.
Fountain had more direct exposure to oral advocacy when he spent a summer interning for Judge Martin Glenn at the federal bankruptcy court for the Southern District of New York. During his internship, Fountain read briefs from both sides and drafted bench memos for the judge before final opinions came out. “We had a firsthand view of how arguments are weighed against each other and how a judge ultimately resolves difficult issues,” Fountain says. He also watched top attorneys square off in court in major bankruptcy trials before Judge Glenn.
After graduation, Fountain will work as a litigation associate at Cravath, Swaine & Moore.