Graduate Awarded Prestigious Fellowship in U.S. Solicitor General's Office

Z. Payvand Ahdout '13 Will Serve as a 2014 Bristow Fellow Assisting U.S. Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli, Jr. '83, a Distinguished Alumnus.

New York, February 14, 2014—Columbia Law School graduate Z. Payvand Ahdout ’13 has been selected as one of four Bristow Fellows by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of the Solicitor General. She will serve under distinguished alumnus and U.S. Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli, Jr. ’83. 

The fellowship will allow Ahdout to pursue a passion she developed while studying at the Law School: public law and, in particular, the interaction between the branches of the U.S. government.
“I’m looking forward to working with some of the best appellate advocates in the country,” Ahdout said. “I don’t think there are many jobs two years out of law school where you can serve the public interest with people like that.”
Z. Payvand Ahdout ’13 has been selected as one of four Bristow Fellows by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of the Solicitor General.
Since she graduated in 2013, Ahdout has been clerking for Judge Debra Ann Livingston of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, a Paul J. Kellner Professor of Law.
“I learn from her every day,” Ahdout said of Livingston. “I aspire to her ability to read so much and distill down exactly what her question is. That’s going to be useful next year, to the extent that I can learn that skill while I’m here.”
Ahdout was one of just five 2013 graduates awarded the Ruth Bader Ginsburg Prize for earning James Kent academic honors for outstanding achievement in each of her three years at the Law School. In particular, Ahdout stood out in the study of federal courts, winning the Best in Class Award in that subject area and the Wilfred Feinberg Prize for best student work in an area related to the federal courts.
Ahdout said she was grateful for the support of Columbia Law School professors Daniel C. Richman, also a Paul J. Kellner Professor of Law; Peter L. Strauss, the Betts Professor of Law; and former professor Trevor W. Morrison ’98, who was a Bristow Fellow in 1999. In addition to inspiring Ahdout in their courses, each offered her guidance and counsel as she considered the start of her career.
Outside of her work in the classroom, Ahdout was a member of the Columbia Law Student Senate, a teaching assistant for Civil Procedure and Constitutional Law, and an editor of the Columbia Law Review. Prior to law school, she attended the University of Virginia as a Jefferson Scholar and was awarded best undergraduate thesis in economics, earning her B.A. in economics and government with highest distinction.
Bristow Fellows are chosen from law school graduates with excellent academic records—many with clerkship experience. They assist attorneys in the Office of the Solicitor General in drafting briefs in opposition to certiorari filed against the government in the U.S. Supreme Court, preparing petitions for certiorari and briefs on the merits, preparing recommendations regarding authorization of government appeals in the lower courts, and assisting in the preparation of oral arguments before the high court.
Ahdout will begin her one-year fellowship this summer.