One of the students admitted to Columbia Law School’s master’s program is that of Mario Ancic, a lawyer from Croatia who has a win over Roger Federer in tennis.
“I’m trying to be prepared for every class,” Ancic said in an interview with The New York Times. “The professors here use the Socratic method of teaching, so they can call on you at any time.”
Ancic was a semifinalist at Wimbledon in 2004 and won the Davis Cup for Croatia in 2005. Ancic achieved a world ranking of No. 7 when he reached the quarterfinals of Wimbledon and the French Open in 2006. He defeated Federer at Wimbledon in 2002.
“I had to retire early and that’s life,” he said. “You try to deal with it and fight through it, but at some point you need to turn the page and move on to something else.”
While recovering from shoulder injuries, Ancic enrolled in the University of Split, where he earned a doctorate in law and also passed the local bar exam. He then was hired as a junior lawyer at Savoric & Partners in Croatia. He spent a couple of months working on a research project at Harvard Law School, leading him to pursue a master’s degree in the United States. While working on the project he was supervised by Peter A. Carfagna.
“This might sound clichéd, but the way Mario approached his training as a professional tennis player is how he’s approaching his legal career,” Carfagna said. “He’s like a sponge, indefatigable, and intensely committed to be the best lawyer he can be.” Carfagna was a star tennis player for Columbia and is a former lawyer himself.
Ancic said that after he completes the one-year Master of Laws program he will try to obtain a job at a corporate firm before he returns home to Croatia. Ancic still loves tennis and the Columbia tennis team has already used his services. The associate men’s coach, Howard Endelman, said, “Law school can be brutal. That said, the prospect of Mario working out with our guys is very exciting.”
Ancic attended the United States Open in Flushing Meadows after arriving at Columbia so he could show his support for Marin Cilic, a fellow countryman. He also watched one of Federer’s matches.
“There are a bunch of guys like Roger who are older than me and still playing at a championship level,” Ancic said. “But everyone has their own story, and I’m really happy with mine.”