Phillip Cushing ’15
Counsel for the Appellees
For Phillip Cushing ’15, who played competitive sports in high school and college, the opportunity to square off against high-caliber opponents was one of the main attractions of the Harlan Fiske Stone Moot Court Competition.
“The fact that everyone in this competition is so incredible has driven me to become better,” says Cushing. “I’ve also learned a lot from watching other students during their oral arguments.
He also had a chance to study different styles of oral argument while interning last summer for Judge David O. Carter of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. Judge Carter is well known for taking on high-profile, complex cases, and Cushing saw some of the country’s top litigators argue before him.
Cushing credits his experience and ease in public speaking with helping him advance in the Stone Moot Court, which is part of the Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison Moot Court Program. He often gave school-wide speeches in high school and in college he led retreats for first-year students. At Columbia Law School, he grew comfortable explaining complex ideas and fielding questions as a teaching assistant for Professor Ted Shaw’s Civil Procedure class.
When a new record was introduced for the Stone Moot Court’s final arguments, Cushing wasn’t fazed. “I like new things,” he explains. “So having the opportunity to get close to a lot of different topics is another part of the competition that was very attractive to me.”
Cushing came to the Law School eager to become a trial attorney. But the Stone Moot Court has piqued his interest in appellate work.
“You can have a significant effect on the course of the law at the appellate level—there are serious, big-picture things at stake,” he says.
Cushing, who is the executive editor for the Columbia Business Law Review, will intern at Cravath, Swaine, and Moore this summer, splitting his time between corporate transactional work and litigation. He wants to get a taste of both before settling on one or the other.
Still, he says, “This experience with Stone Moot Court has reaffirmed that I really like litigation. It might be hard to dissuade me.”