Matthew Danzer ’15 was born to be a lawyer.
His mother gave birth to him immediately following her first year in law school, and he grew up discussing legal issues at the dinner table. But it was at age 13, when his father made the difficult decision to come out as gay, that Danzer discovered the law’s potential to help shape policy for a better and more inclusive society.
As an undergraduate at Cornell University, the “New York-born, bred, raised, and educated” Danzer tackled LGBTQ issues, serving as a liaison to the community in student government and enacting a comprehensive nondiscrimination clause across the university. Off campus, he worked as director of government relations for the State University of New York Student Assembly and interned for major New York officials including Eliot Spitzer, Andrew Cuomo, and Hillary Clinton, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Charles Schumer. He also became a contributor and editor for Wonk Wire.
Danzer is doggedly optimistic about the potential for law and government to take on—and solve—daunting challenges.
"We have found solutions for many of our most intractable problems when it seemed impossible to do so," Danzer says. “In the end, sensible policies win out over gridlock.”
At Columbia Law School, Danzer deepened his interest in national security law, serving as president of the National Security Law Society and as a research assistant for Professor Matthew C. Waxman, faculty co-chair of the Roger Hertog Program on Law and National Security and a former senior official at the U.S. State Department, Department of Defense, and National Security Council. Waxman helped connect him with the national security law blog Lawfare, for which Danzer has written extensively on a range of issues. Danzer also assisted Professor David Pozen with research, worked as a development editor of the Columbia Law Review, served as president of the Jewish Law Students Association, and continued his commitment to LGBTQ issues as ally chair of the student-run organization OutLaws.
Following an entrée from the Law School’s Social Justice Initiatives, Danzer worked with the City University of New York in the Office of the General Counsel after his first year of law school, developing sexual assault policies to bring CUNY’s network of campuses in line with new federal guidelines. After his second year, he worked on a diverse array of cases as a summer associate for Williams & Connolly. He will begin his career in the firm’s D.C. office this fall.
Danzer has found himself “thinking more deeply about the roles of lawyers in society” as he prepares to graduate.
“Lawyers are responsible for applying laws and for identifying areas of the law in need of reform,” Danzer says. “Both are necessary to bring about positive change.”