Brian C. Mulhall
While working as a U.S. Navy officer and an aide-de-camp in Iraq in 2009, Brian C. Mulhall ’13 saw something that reaffirmed his interest in attending law school: His commanding officer was preparing for a negotiation with an Iraqi counterpart when a junior Navy lawyer assigned to the matter suggested an alternative way to proceed.
“The military lawyer explained the United States’ obligations under the terms of the Security Agreement,” Mulhall says. “It was a really tactful and persuasive presentation. He gained my boss’ attention in a way that was unusual for his rank, and he used his legal advocacy skills to help shape the U.S. negotiating position.”
That experience stuck with Mulhall, who, as a student at the University of Notre Dame, had always thought about the possibility of attending law school. In 2010, after earning his undergraduate degree, and following five years of service in the Navy, Mulhall visited Columbia Law School. The Admissions Office referred him to Columbia University’s Veterans Affairs Department and to the Columbia Law School Military Association, a student group dedicated to fostering the connection between military service and the law. He felt right at home.
Once he began his legal studies, Mulhall made quite an impression. He was named a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar and a James Kent Scholar during his first and second years, respectively. He interned in his home state at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio after his first year, served as a teaching assistant for the Kirkland & Ellis Legal Writing Program during his second year, and participated in the Environmental Law Clinic. During Mulhall’s final semester, he worked full time at the U.S. Department of State as part of the Externship on the Federal Government in Washington, D.C.
As an extern, Mulhall worked on extraditions and treaty interpretations, as well as on employment litigation within the State Department. “I actually saw what I learned about in class being implemented day to day,” he says.
Next year, Mulhall will begin a four-year commitment with the Department of Justice’s National Security Division as part of the agency’s prestigious Honors Program. And he is ready to take on a new challenge.
“Columbia Law School did an outstanding job preparing me for whatever paths my legal career might take,” he says. “The bar was set very high, and I liked that.”