Student Spotlight: Christopher Morillo ’24

Morillo is a finalist in the 2024 Harlan Fiske Stone Moot Court Competition.

Man standing at a podium

Christopher Morillo ’24 initially studied computer science as an undergraduate at Brown University, where he was a prize-winning debater. He ultimately found he could satisfy his love of logic in the law, which also allowed him to pursue his passions for public service and advocacy. Now a finalist in the Harlan Fiske Stone Moot Court Competition, Morillo talks about his interest in debate and his experiences studying criminal law.

Hometown: Pasadena, California

Education: A.B. in history and public policy at Brown University

Before Columbia Law: President of the Brown Debating Union; staff editor of the Brown Undergraduate Law Review

At Columbia Law: James Kent Scholar; managing editor of the Columbia Journal of Law & Social Problems; teaching assistant for Benjamin L. Liebman, Robert L. Lieff Professor of Law, and Shyamkrishna Balganesh, Sol Goldman Professor of Law; volunteer coach for the Constitutional Law Debate Program at Legal Outreach

What’s Next: Morillo will join the Los Angeles office of Munger, Tolles & Olson before starting a clerkship with Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

You won a prize for debating at Brown. How did you get started in debate?

I was very, very shy in high school and still describe myself as introverted. In high school, debate was definitely a challenge for me, and that was why I did it. I found that I really liked it, so I wanted to pursue it in college. It became an almost every weekend kind of thing.  

Did you always know you wanted to go to law school?

I hopped around quite a bit at Brown in terms of majors. At first, I was studying computer science, then economics. My dad is a software engineer, and I was trying to do what he did, but through debate, I fell in love with oral advocacy and advocacy in general. I also really enjoyed my history classes about the law. I still retain some of my love for the pure logic of computer science, but I think law marries the best aspects of that with a bit more focus on justice, eloquence, good writing, and good advocacy.

What kinds of law have you focused on at Columbia Law School?

My favorite classes and experiences have been related to criminal law, including my externship at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and some advanced classes in the subject. I’m definitely interested in prosecutorial work, which combines trial work and oral advocacy with public service. I had a pretty formative experience in high school, interning at the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. At the time, the office was prosecuting the Gabriel Fernandez child abuse case. I really appreciate the role of the prosecutor in being there for victims, particularly victims who can’t speak for themselves.

What has surprised you most about the Harlan Fiske Stone Moot Court Competition?

Despite spending months on one topic—and I’ve been on the same side of the case throughout the competition—I always feel like in each round, there are things that come up for the first time or surprise me or are phrased a certain way that makes me think of something in a new way. Part of the fun is being able to respond to those on the fly. 

What advice would you give to incoming Columbia Law School students?

Take advantage of being in New York; try to absorb as much as you can from your peers and professors, not just in class but in all the other opportunities the school gives you, including moot court. 

What do you enjoy most about New York City?

Broadway. I’m a member of the Theatre Development Fund, so I take advantage of all the discount tickets I can. I’m very lucky.

What’s your favorite show?