Gexu “George” Zhang
When Gexu “George” Zhang ’14 came back to Columbia Law School last fall from his summer job at Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy, he was eager to begin an innovative new course on law firm management taught by powerhouse dealmaker Mel M. Immergut ’71.
The seminar, which delved into law firm management by focusing on a hypothetical merger of two major law firms, offered the perfect combination of law and business for Zhang. Not to mention the perfect teacher. Immergut, who led Milbank as chairman for nearly two decades, offered insights and advice that helped prepare Zhang for the career he will begin as an associate at Milbank following graduation.
“I can’t say how valuable it is for a law student who is about to join a firm to learn from somebody who’s been at the top of the legal profession,” Zhang says.
The law firm merger course was just one major highlight among many at Columbia Law School for Zhang, who was honored for superior academic achievement as a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar. In addition to his studies, Zhang, an immigrant whose family came to the U.S. from a northeastern province of China when he was 8 years old, served as the 2013–2014 Student Senate president, as a representative on the Columbia Law School Association, and as co-president of the Society for Law, Science and Technology, a student organization. This spring, he interned at the investment firm Barington Capital Group.
One of the things Zhang appreciated most about the Law School was the sense of community on campus—including at spirited student events like the Deans’ Cup, an annual basketball game between Columbia and NYU that raises money for public interest work, and Law Revue, a musical and sketch comedy students perform each year.
But Zhang didn’t just participate in the Columbia Law School community—he also helped improve it. As Student Senate president, he organized a series of focus groups with officials from the Law School’s administrative offices to facilitate communication about which programs and policies were working well and which could be improved. One such discussion led to increased computing capacity for course registration, making the process faster and more efficient.
“I was very glad to be able to create the focus groups,” Zhang says. “We have such a strong, special community here.”