Alumni Advice: Reflections for the Class of 2023

To help celebrate this year’s graduates, alumni offer words of counsel and encouragement.

Class of 2023 art

“Be a lawyer, not a technician.”
“Be brave; be involved, be committed.”
“Challenge yourself.”
“Be adaptable.”

As students prepare to graduate and embark on the next phase of their careers, alumni leaders who generously serve on this year’s reunion committees share reflections and reassurances that as Columbia Law graduates, the members of this year’s class are well prepared for whatever comes next.

Read more below.

Advice From Alumni to the Class of 2023

Graduates celebrating their reunion years share their advice with the newest members of the Columbia Law School alumni network.

Class of 1988

Valerie Hartman

“This is a marathon, not a sprint. You’ve been given a world class education, one that will serve you for the rest of your life no matter what you decide to pursue. Be kind. Stay curious and humble. Laugh. Play. Believe in yourself. And as you tackle challenges, lead with your humanity. Good luck!”

Class of 1978

Timothy Fisher

“Say yes whenever you can, and keep an eye out for doors opening in your peripheral vision; the best career paths are completely unpredictable.”

Class of 1998

Rashmi Airan

“Pursue your passion with courage, always ask questions, follow your gut even when it’s hard. Speak up, and let your voice be heard.”

Class of 1998

Filipa Monteiro LL.M.

“Challenge yourself, be firm and resolute, and avoid regrets. Go!”

Class of 1968

Eric Hirschhorn

“It’s fine, though not essential, to have a working hypothesis (presumably, one that evolves over time) about your professional career. It’s important, however, not to be paralyzed by it and to be open to the opportunities, sometimes totally unanticipated, that may come your way.”

Class of 1973

Larry Blumberg

“A lawyer needs to know enough about many areas to recognize issues and counsel clients, even if the advice is to seek a specialist in a particular field. Be a lawyer, not a technician. Have a life inside and outside of the law practice. Devote part of your skills to the greater good of society, not merely your clients’ individual issues.”

Class of 1978

Stephen Cunningham

“Old friends are hard to make. Treasure the chances to spend time with classmates. The shared experiences will create wonderful lifetime memories. . . . When you think about your work, do what will make the biggest difference. That will lead to better outcomes for you and the world.”


Class of 1998

Patricia Seith

“Many of my classmates (including myself) are not doing what they imagined when they graduated and are thrilled with the twists and turns of their careers. With the pace of change and technology, your future specialty may not even exist yet. Lawyers tend to be planners, but the best adventures may be the ones unplanned.”

Class of 1978

Jeffrey Golden

“Be brave; be involved, be committed; aim high, aim to be the best; keep good company.”

Class of 2008

Zachary N. Goldstein

“Find a few mentors who will give you unbiased advice. Sometimes you need to hear [that] you are wrong.”

Class of 2008

Boyan Konstantinov LL.M.

“Law school is a step, not a goal. Ask yourself where you want to be after graduation, in five years, in 10. Always put personal life priorities first, take into account self-care and quality of life. Often less means a lot more.”

Class of 2013

Jennifer Fernandez

“Congratulations on completing your law school journey! You are joining a profession where you will no doubt have the power and privilege to make a difference in the world. . . . Never forget the passions and interests that brought you to law school, the wonderful assets that you bring to the table, and that you 100% belong.”

Class of 1998

Adam Fisher

“Be as open to new ideas and opportunities as possible because, in my experience, the law school education is very much applicable to a wider range of fields than is obvious coming out of school.”

Class of 2013

Jamie Crooks

“A CLS degree guarantees that you will always find good employment as a lawyer if you want it. That means you can take more risks and try something off the beaten path.”


Class of 2018

Giulia Rimoldi LL.M.

“Make the most of the relationships you gained along the way during your year at Columbia!”


Class of 1968

Michael Pecherer

“Invest in your differences, not in your similarities. . . . Our fundamental mission is to solve problems efficiently, fairly, and with integrity. Whether it is in litigation, in transactions, in the development of businesses, or within the broad scope of public service, it is solving the problem, reducing or eliminating the dispute, and making the lives of others better that should be our mission.”

Class of 1973

Leo G. Kailas

“Follow your passion but also prepare to be ‘tough.’ Nothing you learn in law school will prepare you to be first chair at a two-month trial. Learn to persevere during the dark moments and to savor even the small victories.”

Class of 2018

Lilybelle Davis

“Be adaptable. Continue to strive. This is just the beginning!”

Class of 2003

Snehal Patel

“Make sure to take a step back and consider what it is that you really want out of life and your career. Your legal training will be a material aid in that journey. [Do] not be afraid of trying unconventional paths; you grow immensely while on the journey.”

Class of 2013

Adam Brunk

“If you’re going to a law firm, take advantage of the various opportunities offered—try different practice areas, take on pro bono, contribute to committees, work on publications. Your working life will be much fuller and more rewarding, and you never know what opportunities may arise from the different avenues.”