Zila Reyes Acosta-Grimes
Columbia Law School was a big part of life for Zila Reyes Acosta-Grimes ’15 long before she enrolled as a student. Her father, Rolando T. Acosta '82, an associate justice for the New York State Supreme Court, is a graduate of the Law School. Acosta-Grimes and her father are also Columbia College alumni.
Although it seemed natural to follow in her father’s footsteps and study law, Acosta-Grimes wanted to forge her own path. She spent a year at Goldman Sachs as an analyst working in the anti-money laundering transaction and trade surveillance team.
But increasingly, Acosta-Grimes found herself fascinated by how the law intersected with other fields, and her mentor, Esta E. Stecher ’82, chief executive officer at Goldman Sachs, encouraged her to pursue her interest.
“I realized the people whose jobs I envied most were the lawyers like Stecher,” Acosta-Grimes says of the distinguished alumna. “They weren’t necessarily practicing law in the traditional ways I had envisioned.”
At the Law School, Acosta-Grimes quickly realized she could pursue her diverse interests in issues affecting the Latino community, public service, and corporate governance. She dove into intellectual life with great energy and enthusiasm.
She has served as social chair of the Latino/a Law Students Association (LaLSA) and as an articles editor for the Columbia Law Review, where she worked with professors to help polish their scholarship. Acosta-Grimes was also on the Columbia University Senate, where she worked with faculty, students, and staff on rewriting the rules of university conduct, and provided student input on the President’s Advisory Committee on Sexual Assault with Columbia Law School Professor Suzanne B. Goldberg, executive vice president for university life.
Acosta-Grimes also applied skills she learned during law school to real-life settings. Under the guidance of Professor Robert J. Jackson Jr., she worked with Food Bank for New York City on its income-tax program. The project, part of Jackson’s Leadership for Lawyers course, co-taught with Dean of Students Michelle Greenberg-Kobrin ’99, helped the organization manage clients more efficiently.
“The class was instrumental in changing how I think about what it means to be a lawyer,” she says.
Acosta-Grimes, who will be a corporate associate at Debevoise & Plimpton in New York after graduation, credits the Law School for helping her build a solid foundation in the profession.
“Columbia Law School provides you with an almost overwhelming number of opportunities,” she says.