Alexander N. Ely ’16
Counsel for the Plaintiff-Appellant
To make it to the finals of the Harlan Fiske Stone Moot Court Competition, students need to shine in both brief writing and oral argument. Finalist Alexander N. Ely ’16, a native of Amherst, Massachusetts, has benefitted from both past and present experience crafting oral and written arguments.
Prior to earning his master’s degree in law and diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University, Ely spent time working at an international crisis and communications firm. He later interned at the U.S. Department of Defense before turning his sights on a law degree. In the summer following his second year at Columbia Law School, Ely returned to Washington, D.C., to serve as an intern in the Office of the Legal Adviser for the U.S. Department of State, splitting his summer between that position and a job at the Washington office of Covington & Burling. In addition to boosting his public speaking skills, Ely credits these experiences with honing his abilities to deliver clear messages culled from complex facts and to decipher what an audience needs from a given presentation.
The Law School’s seminar in Appellate Advocacy, which Ely is taking this term with fellow finalists Aaron Michael Macris ’16 and Logan J. Gowdey ’16, has provided invaluable practice for Stone Moot Court. “Students receive detailed feedback from people who have seen the best oral advocates in their courtroom,” Ely says of Professors Debra A. Livingston and Gerard E. Lynch ’75, both judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
To sharpen his writing, research, and editing skills, Ely has taken advantage of multiple avenues. He serves as the editor-in-chief of the Columbia Journal of Transnational Law and he has worked as a research assistant to several faculty members, including Professors Jessica Bulman-Pozen, Sarah H. Cleveland, Matthew C. Waxman, and Anu Bradford.
“The Law School has a terrific legal writing program, and there is amazing support staff in the library for research,” Ely says. “But I think I benefitted most from having access to Law School faculty members who are really receptive to involving students in their research and writing.”
Ely worked with Cleveland on the American Law Institute’s Restatement (Fourth) of Foreign Relations Law of the United States, for which Cleveland is a co-coordinating reporter. With Bradford, he was involved in researching the relationship between international trade agreements and antitrust. Ely, who hopes to pursue a career as a government lawyer working on foreign policy or national security issues, credits Waxman with helping him better understand how government lawyers can balance national security with concerns about privacy and constitutional rights.
After graduation, Ely will clerk for Judge Norman Stahl of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, and then for Judge Richard Stearns of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.