A Road Less Traveled: National Security Careers After Law School

The Reiss Center on Law and Security, together with the students of the National Security Law Society, sponsors a series of career talks with national security law and policy practitioners in candid conversations about their paths after law school. Featured speakers hail from a diverse range of backgrounds—including government, advocacy, private sector, and/or scholarly work—and address both the details of their work as well as a broader view of their career trajectories. The series is an integral part of fulfilling the Reiss Center’s mission to educate the next generation of national security leaders, demystifying and providing exposure to a diverse range of career experiences in this field.

Career Series Full Poster

Past Talks

Josh Geltzer – April 16

Josh Geltzer conversation poster
Josh Geltzer speaks to students

On Tuesday, April 16, the Reiss Center on Law and Security and the National Security Law Society hosted this semester’s final session of A Road Less Traveled, our career series featuring national security law and policy practitioners. Students heard from Joshua Geltzer, Executive Director of the Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection at Georgetown Law, which focuses on constitutional impact litigation and public education on everything from whistleblower protections to the travel ban to DACA.

Geltzer has had a wide-ranging career following law school: prior to his advocacy work at ICAP, Geltzer served in the Obama Administration as Senior Director for Counterterrorism at the National Security Council. He also served in government as a national security lawyer, including as Deputy Legal Advisor at the National Security Council and before that as Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General for National Security at the Department of Justice. His work in government spanned issues such as closure of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, the counter-ISIL campaign, and Americans held hostage overseas. He was a law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer. Additionally, Geltzer is an editor of Just Security and has been a prolific public writer, appearing in The AtlanticForeign PolicyPolitico, and the Washington Post, among others. He can be found on Twitter at @jgeltzer.

Geltzer shared insights on his constitutional advocacy work, experience in government, and advice for law students on navigating national security careers and making an impact both in and out of government.

Hina Shamsi – April 8

Hina Shamsi discussion poster
Hina Shamsi Speaks to students

The Reiss Center on Law and Security, the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, and the National Security Law Society hosted Hina Shamsi, Director of the ACLU National Security Project, for the fourth session of a series featuring national security law and policy practitioners. Prior to her work at the ACLU, Shamsi was the acting director of Human Rights First’s Law & Security Program and previously served as senior advisor to the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions. She spoke with students about her career path after law school and her experience working in the public interest national security and human rights field.

Wally Adeyemo – March 26

Wally Adeyemo conversation poster
Adeyemo speaks to students

On Tuesday, March 26, the Reiss Center on Law and Security and the National Security Law Society hosted Wally Adeyemo, Senior Advisor at BlackRock, for the third session of a series featuring national security law and policy practitioners. Prior to his work for BlackRock, Adeyemo was the former Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economics and Deputy Director of the National Economic Council, as well as Deputy Chief of Staff to the Secretary of the Treasury. He spoke with students about his career path after law school and his experience working at the intersection of law and economics in both the public and private sector.

Margaret Taylor – February 12

On Tuesday, February 12, the Reiss Center on Law and Security and the National Security Law Society hosted Margaret Taylor, Senior Editor at Lawfare and Fellow at the Brookings Institution, for the second session of a series featuring national security law and policy practitioners. Taylor previously served as the Democratic Chief Counsel of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, as well as an attorney with the Office of the Legal Adviser at the U.S. Department of State.

Taylor spoke with students about her career path during and after law school, including her experience working on Capitol Hill and in the Executive Branch. She began by discussing her longstanding interest in public international law, and the courses and activities she found most formative while in law school. She discussed her work at the State Department and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, as well as her transition from advising Executive Branch clients to Congress. She considered ways that lawmakers can influence the debate on foreign policy issues through hearings, resolutions, and other methods, even without the pulpit of the presidency. Taylor also described her current role as Senior Editor and Counsel with Lawfare and fellow at Brookings, along with the new experience of working in a more public-facing role after spending the earlier part of her career as an advisor to policymakers.

In her advice to students interested in a career in national security law, Taylor emphasized the need for seizing opportunities as they arise. She highlighted the importance of approaching these challenges with confidence in one’s own expertise, coupled with an honesty about areas in which one can learn and grow. Taylor explained that she allowed her desire to pursue work of genuine interest to guide her career decisions, and she encouraged students to do the same, and to embrace serendipity and be willing to take risks – wherever that might lead them.

You can follow her on Twitter @MargLTaylor.

Rachel Goldbrenner – January 25

On Friday, January 23, the Reiss Center on Law and Security and the National Security Law Society hosted Rachel Goldbrenner, Executive Director of the Reiss Center on Law and Security for the inaugural session of a series with national security law and policy practitioners. Prior to heading the Reiss Center, Goldbrenner served in a number of national security roles in the White House and State Department, including as a senior advisor to U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power and as a director for multilateral affairs and human rights at the National Security Council. She has also practiced as an international litigator and served at several thinktanks and advocacy organizations.

In her roundtable discussion with current NYU law students, Goldbrenner discussed her career path both leading into and following law school. She discussed the challenges and rewards of government service and gave her advice for students interested in pursuing a career in national security. Turning to her current role, she also provided an overview of the Reiss Center’s renewed agenda, plans for the future, and opportunities and resources for students interested in national security at NYU Law.