J. Matthew Schmitten ’13
Counsel for Appellee
This year’s Harlan Fiske Stone Moot Court competition did not begin auspiciously for J. Matthew Schmitten ’13: His partner had to leave the competition at the last minute prior to the first round. But Schmitten was too excited by the competition to be discouraged. “There are very few opportunities to exercise these kinds of skills other than at moot court,” he says. “Externships can give you clinical experience, but not in writing appellate briefs or making oral arguments.”
Schmitten’s legal experience predates his arrival at Columbia Law School last year. While a pre-law junior at American University, he began work as a non-attorney practitioner in Washington, D.C. In that capacity, he drafted and filed more than 100 briefs—including those filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Twice he presented oral argument for an appellant in federal cases. “It was quite an experience,” he says. “I was drafting full appellate briefs and presenting oral argument before I even went to law school.”
Among the skills that Schmitten says he has honed at the Law School is his writing. In assigning credit for this marked improvement, he singles out the influence of Legal Practice Workshop instructor Michael Kavey. “He put in so much work to help us improve our writing,” Schmitten says. “From our first memo to our last, we all improved a great deal.”
Early on in his legal studies, Schmitten developed a strong affection for antitrust law. “I love economics—it was my favorite subject as an undergrad, and antitrust law today is decidedly steeped in microeconomics,” he says. “I was always predisposed to it.” This predisposition was brought to life when Schmitten took a Law and Economics seminar with Professor Victor Goldberg, followed by a summer at the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice. “By the time I took antitrust with Professor Scott Hemphill last semester, I was hooked,” he says.
Schmitten will spend the coming summer focused on antitrust issues as an associate with Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton in Washington, D.C.