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Caroline Bierbaum: Olympic Hopeful and 1L at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law
by Heather Jung
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Bierbaum started running as a freshman in high school and continued throughout her years as an undergraduate at Columbia University. As a distance runner, she specializes in 5k and 10k races. She is a five-time NCAA Division One All-American, as well as an NCAA Academic All-American. She has won the Ivy League cross-country title two times, as well as 10k and 5k titles in track. Her personal records are 32:44 for the 10k and 15:52 for the 5k.
In 2005, she was the recipient of the prestigious Honda Award, which is given to an outstanding athlete in each of the NCAA-sanctioned sports based on the votes of coaches of that sport. She said the highlights of her running career have been being a "three-time NCAA runner-up and running the nation's leading 10k time in 2005—32:44." Bierbaum also has a two-year contract with Nike.
"The contract is for two years, with options to renew," Bierbaum said. "You get a salary and free Nike gear (shoes, clothes, etc.), and you get bonuses for running in certain races and placing in certain spots (such as placing top-three in a major city marathon or road race)."
Bierbaum graduated from Columbia in 2006 with a degree in history. She decided to go to law school because she feels, and has always felt, that she possesses the qualities to be a good lawyer.
"I am clear thinking, diligent, and detail oriented, and I have always been interested in the law—reading about current lawsuits in the paper, watching legal-news analysts on TV, etc.," she said.
As she is a clear thinker and a detail-oriented person, it is no surprise that Bierbaum's favorite courses thus far have been rules-based classes such as Civil Procedure and Contracts. It is also no wonder that her favorite aspect of the law is its practicality.
"You can do anything with the law degree, and I think being in law school makes you more aware of what is going on in the world, how people relate to each other, and how society functions," said Bierbaum. "I feel like I am learning much more relevant information in law school than I ever did as an undergraduate."
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While she still has two years left to decide, Bierbaum is already mulling over what type of law she wants to pursue upon graduation. She said that for the first few years she would like to work in corporate law "just to get experience and acquire good lawyering skills." After that, she said, she has a variety of avenues she is considering, ranging from trusts and estates to private clients to sports and media law.
"I have always liked the idea of helping people manage their property," she said. "On the other hand, I love sports and have experience as a journalist, so the media has always interested me, as well."
As always, Bierbaum has plans to keep her busy during the next couple of years at law school. This summer, she plans to continue training for the Olympics while interning for New York Supreme Court Justice Nicholas Figueroa. Next year, she hopes to write for one of the law school's law journals—"hopefully the arts and entertainment journal."
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"I think the biggest benefits [of student organizations] are being able to work on something stimulating with your peers. It is a useful way to meet people who share your same interests, and it allows you to explore aspects of the law that regular law school classes may not be able to provide," Bierbaum said.
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