Faces of the Class of 2025

Hear from 1Ls about why they came to Columbia Law, what they hope to accomplish, and how they spend their time outside of the classroom.

collage of 14 faces of students

The Class of 2025 has officially begun their law school journey. These future lawyers possess a wide range of academic interests and career ambitions. Below, meet 14 members of this diverse and talented cohort.

“Columbia Law was always my dream school. I can confirm it has been everything I imagined and more; I continue to be impressed by my peers every day!”—Isidora Echeverria ’25

Interviews have been edited and condensed.

Joel Adu-Quaye ’25 portrait

Joel Adu-Quaye ’25

Hometown: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Undergraduate degree: University of Manitoba; Bachelor of General Science

What inspired you to study law?

I would like to be a force for positive change in the world, and I believe that the legal profession can give me the tools to do that.

Why Columbia Law School?

I visited the Law School before accepting my offer of admission and was inspired by the campus and the people within it. After the visit, I knew that this was the place I wanted to spend the next three years learning my craft.

What are your interests beyond the law?

I’ve always enjoyed playing basketball and have met a lot of fellow students who love to hoop, so that’s been a great time. I’m also looking forward to attending at least a few Knicks and Nets basketball games . . . when I find time between my readings.

Zachary Becker ’25 portrait

Zachary Becker CC ’22, LAW ’25

Hometowns: Palm Beach, Florida, and Newport Beach, California

Undergraduate degree: Columbia University; B.A. in political science

Why Columbia Law School? 

After completing my undergraduate degree at Columbia, I knew that the opportunities afforded by a school with the resources, faculty, accessibility, and community that Columbia has could not be understated. I also knew that I wanted my professional career to be in New York, and there is no better place from which one could begin such a career.

What inspired you to study law? 

Law school was initially attractive because [of my] appreciation and reverence for the ideal of justice, for the distinction between right and wrong. Subsequently, a reverence for the institutions and the interests for which only law can offer protection motivated my desire to attend law school.

Is there a class with any professor in particular that you would like to take?

I’d like to take Terror and Consent with Professor Philip C. Bobbitt as a 2L or 3L. Professor Bobbitt was my professor for Legal Methods, and I enjoyed his pedagogy, his interest and investment in his students, and his combination of academic interests in constitutional and national security law. I also have friends who are former Law School students who have recommended taking Corporations with Professor Zohar Goshen, so I hope to take that as well.

Allen Belo ’25 portrait

Allen Belo ’25

Hometown: Odenton, Maryland

Undergraduate degree: Dickinson College; B.A. in international studies and French and Francophone studies

Why Columbia Law School?

I chose Columbia because of the community and all the opportunities I knew I would be offered here. I’ll be the first in my family to earn a J.D., and since I did not grow up around many people who had pursued law careers, I don’t always know what to ask or all the opportunities that are open to me. But even before classes started, I’ve felt supported not only by the upper classes but also from the Columbia Law alumni in my network from undergrad. 

Is there a class with any professor in particular that you would like to take?

I am really hoping to get the chance to take a class with Professor Jamal Greene. I got to sit in on a class of his when I visited campus for the first time after being admitted and really resonated with his teaching style.

What inspired you to study law?

I knew that the skills I would learn at law school would be crucial to enacting change in the world, and I wanted to be as strong of an advocate for progress as possible. 

What is your most interesting New York moment so far?

I unexpectedly ran into R&B artist Ari Lennox while attending a friend’s first gallery showing downtown. I almost bumped into her while she was headed to the elevator, and I was stunned. I found out later that night that she was at the same venue for her most recent album’s listening party, so my friends and I successfully snuck upstairs and got to join the listening party.

Isidora Echeverria ’25 portrait

Isidora Echeverria ’25

Hometowns: Santiago, Chile; Woodmere, New York 

Undergraduate degree: CUNY Hunter College; B.A. in political science and public policy 

What inspired you to study law?

My family immigrated from Chile when I was two years old. Growing up, I saw how complicated navigating the immigration system was and how crucial it was to have quality legal representation. My goal after law school is to provide deportation defense services to underserved communities in order to keep families together. 

Why Columbia Law School?

Columbia Law was always my dream school. It seemed like the perfect mix of prestigious education, hands-on legal practice, and a vibrant community. I can confirm it has been everything I imagined and more; I continue to be impressed by my peers every day! The Law School opens so many doors to academic and professional opportunities; you really can’t go wrong with any path you choose to pursue here. 

What has been your most interesting New York moment so far?

President [Gabriel] Boric of Chile recently spoke at Columbia! Being in attendance was an emotional, full circle moment for me. It was an incredible way to tie together my cultural heritage, political interests, and my new community here at Columbia Law. I’m looking forward to many more opportunities like this as a Columbia student.

Is there a class with any professor in particular that you would like to take?

I am really looking forward to the opportunity of taking Professor Elora Mukherjee’s Immigrants’ Rights Clinic. I followed her work while I was an undergraduate and throughout the previous executive administration, so it would be an incredible privilege to be in her class.

Tyler Henry ’25 portrait

Tyler James Henry ’25

Hometown: Chino Hills, California

Undergraduate degree: University of San Diego; B.A. in communications and theology/religious studies

Is there a class you are looking forward to taking at the Law School?

Not necessarily a class, but I am excited for any of the clinics I am able to participate in. I think clinics and externships will be a great way to combine my love for learning with my joy of assisting clients with their issues. I would also love to take a course with Professor Katherine M. Franke. During Admitted Students Day, I had the pleasure of speaking with her and five other students about issues that mattered to us. It was very impactful for me to listen to someone who has been a trailblazer for the LGBTQ+ community.

Why Columbia Law?

The four main considerations that drew me to Columbia were its robust gender and sexuality academic offerings, diverse clinics, location in New York City, and excellent career services. I can’t overstate how amazing and impressive my peers and mentors are at this institution, and I feel grateful to have the opportunity to learn and work alongside them. I’m excited to make empathy and humanity a priority in my legal practice, and I feel confident that this is a group of people I can share those values with. 

What inspired you to study law?

I worked in marketing for five years after college, first in public health and then in the video game industry. Many of the projects and initiatives I worked on were focused on empowering underrepresented and marginalized communities. I discovered in marketing that unless a budget has been allocated or it is a certain time of year when a company deems it worthy to hold diversity, equity, and inclusion campaigns, [the type of work I was doing] can become secondary to capital gain. After five years, especially in the context of COVID-19, I decided to go to law school to equip myself with the skills and knowledge I need to assist in making systemic improvements for my community and other marginalized groups. 

What are your interests beyond the law?

I also love playing video games with friends because it allows me to connect with loved ones back in California. I started documenting my journey to law school on YouTube because it was the best way to share the experience with my friends and family during COVID-19, so I am hoping to maintain that channel.

Ines Lechani ’25 portrait

Inès Lechani ’25

Hometown: Paris, France 

Undergraduate degree: University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne; LL.B. in business law 

Why Columbia Law School? 

When I was studying law in France, I started thinking that I wanted to practice business law in the United States and France, so that also contributed to my decision to enroll in the dual degree program with La Sorbonne and Columbia Law School. I always dreamt about attending Columbia Law School. Growing up, I watched so many TV shows that mentioned Columbia. I always felt that this was the university for me. It has so many excellent professors, which is really inspiring. I also believe that Columbia is unique in its location. There are not a lot of outstanding universities that [are also] located in one of the best cities in the world! 

What inspired you to study law? 

I’ve always felt that law was at the foundation of any society. It is more than just legal principles applied to specific facts. Law is very multidisciplinary: It’s about economy, politics, history, sociology. I wanted to study law to have a better understanding of the world. 

What are your interests beyond the law? 

I have been playing piano for 10 years. 

Roy Lee ’25 portrait

Roy Lee ’25

Hometown: Hong Kong

Undergraduate degree: Brandeis University; B.A. in history, with a minor in philosophy

Why Columbia Law School? 

New York City! Everything is always a walk or subway ride away. Columbia Law is able to attract so many diverse and bright minds and attending was always a dream of mine. I’m looking forward to meeting the amazing people that the Law School is able to attract and to learn more about myself.

What inspired you to study law? 

I’ve known I wanted to be a lawyer since I was 8. I have a twin brother who is my complete opposite, and we would constantly argue over what seemed to be irreconcilable differences rooted in how fundamentally different we were. Through these experiences, I gravitated toward the rhetoric and logic in law, but it also endeared in me a proclivity toward empathy. In arguing with my twin and finding myself in positions where I would argue on his behalf before my parents, I came to the conclusion that law was a perfect intersection of the analytical and empathetic modalities that I had developed through my relationship with him.

What are your interests beyond the law?

I really enjoy boxing in my free time! I recently started boxing at a gym in downtown Manhattan; it’s a great way to decompress after a long week of reading.

What class are you most looking forward to taking? 

Courses that question and interrogate the theoretical underpinnings of law. If I can, I will probably take Law and Philosophy as a 2L. I believe that understanding the foundational underpinnings of the law will better inform my understanding of legal issues in practice.

Zhuoqian Li ’25 portrait

Zhuoqian Li ’25

Hometown: Beijing, China

Undergraduate degree: Peking University; degree in law and economics

Why Columbia Law School?

The wonderful faculty and peers. I look forward to the opportunity to listen to unparalleled faculty and being exposed to cutting-edge issues. I believe I will be constantly inspired by excellent peers, and I am excited for my journey here.

What inspired you to study law?

I am interested in the area of private international law, especially the interaction between businesses and nations. Through my undergraduate studies in law, I learned how the area of private international law acts as a channel to solve potential conflicts. I hope to continue my study of law at Columbia Law School, especially exploring the common law system. 

What classes are you most looking forward to taking?

International law. I believe these courses will expose me to important issues such as the interaction and cooperation between nations and equip me with a deeper understanding of how international law shapes international society’s order.

What has been your most interesting New York moment so far?

Picnicking in Riverside Park! It is only a ten-minute walk, and you can enjoy the wind and sunshine.

Lara Manbeck ’25 portrait

Lara Manbeck ’25

Hometown: Cross River, New York

Undergraduate degree: New York University; B.A. in history and economics

What inspired you to study law?

Many of my earliest memories involve my mother’s office, an assistance center for Vietnamese refugees in City Heights, San Diego. As a kid, I often spent my summer days in its waiting room, where I would greet incoming clients and, much to my excitement, get to play with children who had accompanied their parents to meetings. My time at the center and my own upbringing in a family of refugees helped shape my belief in the importance of human rights and institutions capable of upholding them. In pursuing a legal career, I am motivated not only by my long-standing passion for legal study and service but also by my belief that the law is the best tool to advance the values I’ve held since my youth.

Why Columbia Law School?

Before coming to law school, I spent four years working with multilateral and international law organizations, and I saw how widely the practical and ethical demands involved in seeking “justice” can vary. With its unrivaled educational resources in international and comparative law, Columbia Law will allow me to understand these differences with greater nuance and open doors to a future in the justice sector. My professional experience has also shown me the extent to which successful legal practice requires not only academic knowledge but also technical expertise and practical experience. Columbia’s wide range of experiential learning opportunities and externship programs will help me familiarize myself with the practical applications of my scholarship.

What are your interests beyond the law?

Music plays a vital role in my life. As a teenager, I participated in classical piano competitions and had the opportunity to play in some of New York’s most hallowed concert venues, including Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. I eventually decided against a career in music but was determined to keep playing during college and beyond. In college, I sang in the jazz ensemble, and on weekends, I busked with friends in local parks. Most recently in Rome, I served as the front woman of a local rock band called the Ides of March!

Malik Sammons ’25 portrait

Malik Sammons ’25

Hometown: Columbus, Ohio

Undergraduate degree: The Ohio State University; B.A. in political science

What inspired you to study law?

As an undergraduate, I was not entirely sure of how I wanted my professional life to look. I only knew that I was interested in partnering with underserved communities to tackle some of the social issues plaguing our country. It became clear that going to law school could be a powerful opportunity for me to become an advocate for the issues I am deeply concerned with and help foster positive change. The legal mechanism is an extraordinary tool, with a great potential for lawyers to have a positive impact on the world around them. Being a part of that change is why I chose to come to law school. 

Why Columbia Law School?

First of all, I love New York City and am very grateful to be able to pursue my legal education in such a robust and exciting environment. The faculty come from many different practice areas and are extremely well respected within their fields. Being able to learn the law from such a gifted group of professors really made Columbia stand out. Columbia’s experiential learning opportunities are top-notch as well. This school was a perfect balance of all the important things I felt would help make my legal education a positive experience.

What are your interests beyond the law?

I love playing basketball as much as I can and am hoping to find some time to continue this during my time at Columbia. Despite my recent fantasy struggles, I am also hoping to join a fantasy basketball league with some of my classmates.

What are you most looking forward to over the next three years?

Building strong relationships with my peers and the faculty. Columbia has a fantastic group of students that I have already been able to enjoy getting to know in the early part of this 1L year. Having community during the highs and lows of law school is essential, and I am excited to build bonds within this special group. On the faculty side, there are many different interesting backgrounds that the professors bring with them, both professionally and academically, and I am eager to learn more about their experiences during their legal careers.

Liem-Lucas Nguyen ’25 portrait

Liem-Lucas Nguyen ’25

Hometowns: Turku, Finland; Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Undergraduate degree: University of Calgary; BComm in finance 

What inspired you to study law?

The energy industry has never been at a more pivotal stage. The energy transition is one of the defining issues of today, and I am hoping to help steward a responsible, judicious transition that enables our society to shift to a more sustainable future without compromising energy security.

Why Columbia Law School?

The faculty is second to none, alumni are thought leaders in their fields, and New York’s distinct appeal and culture draws in the most accomplished and diverse student body. Not a single day goes by without learning something new. Where else can you learn from preeminent legal scholars during the day and attend a Broadway show in the evening?

What are your interests beyond the law?

I am an avid horseback rider and a passionate fly fisherman. I am a classically trained musician, though these days I mostly play along to anything by Billy Joel or George Strait.

Kevin Paredes ’25 portrait

Kevin Paredes ’25

Hometown: Woodhaven (Queens), New York

Undergraduate degree: New York University; B.A. in independent study, with a concentration in the American Legal System and the Idea of Justice.

What inspired you to study law? 

Ever since I was young, my parents would joke about how many questions I asked. They said that I was a mini-lawyer. That joke led me to an interest in lawyers, such as former president Barack Obama. After learning about his path to the presidency in the fifth grade, I was inspired to become a lawyer, and the more I learned about the law, the more I realized that the law can be a tool to make the world a better place. I particularly want to be a part of the judiciary. 

Why Columbia Law School?

Columbia is in New York, which is and always will be home. I also remember meeting students in the Latinx Law Students Association during a visit to campus and feeling like I fit right in.

What class are you most looking forward to taking?

I am most interested in taking Trial Practice. The idea of going to trial is one of the things that inspired me the most to go to law school. I love being able to passionately argue a point and use facts and laws to stand up for my clients and for what I believe in.

What are you most looking forward to over the next three years?

I am looking forward to learning from the faculty at Columbia, including professors who I have seen on the news discussing the issues that matter most to them—it is super-exciting to me. They inspire me to want to learn more so that one day I too may share that knowledge with others.

Catherine Tran ’25 portrait

Catherine Tran ’25

Hometown: Los Angeles, California

Undergraduate degree: Cornell University; B.A. in government

What inspired you to study law? 

While working in policy and civic engagement, I was curious to understand the larger legal problems I was working on. It was inspiring to watch the lawyers around me tackle some of the toughest questions governing our communities. I spent two years as a paralegal after college, which solidified my decision to pursue law school.

Why Columbia Law School? 

Right from the admitted students event, it was evident that the Columbia Law community exuded a strong sense of camaraderie. I have an unparalleled opportunity to study in a vibrant city surrounded by some of the most talented and passionate individuals I have ever met.

What is your most interesting New York moment so far? 

Friday night sunsets at the Whitney Museum!

Gianni Whiteside ’25 portrait

Gianni Whiteside ’25

Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia

Undergraduate degree: Howard University; B.A. in political science and Spanish

Are there any particular professors you hope to take a class with at the Law School?

I’m really hoping to take a class with Professor Kathryn Judge. She was the guest speaker at the cocktail reception for the Class of 2025, and I really enjoyed her speech. I later researched her work, and I think it would be really awesome to take a class with her!

Why Columbia Law School?

Columbia has been my dream school since I knew I wanted to go to law school. I think it’s hard to beat the opportunities here combined with its location! 

What inspired you to study law?

I’ve always known that I wanted to be a lawyer. I’ve always wanted a career where I felt like I could effect change, and I think law provides the perfect pathway for that. 

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