Dave Alexander ’78: His Journey from Public Service to International Arbitration
As a native of Springfield, Ohio, David Alexander attended Wittenberg University and majored in Sociology and American Studies. His undergraduate studies led him to the local Public Defender’s office. “I sent them a letter and resume and asked to volunteer,” says Dave. “Before I’d heard back from them, I mustered up the confidence to walk in and introduce myself.” He began as a volunteer. Shortly thereafter, the office received a grant to fund his position with the agency.
After graduating from Wittenberg, Dave moved to New England. At the time, he found it difficult to find employment in his field, as many social services agencies had little or no government funding. He worked a few different jobs throughout the year, but his exposure to law through his American Studies major and his internship at the Public Defender’s office led him to apply to law school.
Dave was a member of the first class of judicial externs at OSU, and clerked for the Honorable Robert M. Duncan ’53 at the Supreme Court of Ohio. “My first day in chambers, Judge Duncan, a wonderful American, said this to us, ‘There’s only one thing I hope you can take from this experience: that is the confidence that you too will be able to do this work,’” Dave remembers fondly. “That still sticks with me today.”
Dave also served as the issue planning editor of the Ohio State Law
Journal. He wrote a note, which was published, about a case in which
the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals held that the State of Kentucky could
constitutionally require women to use their husband’s last name
on their driver’s license even if they chose to keep their maiden
name. “I just though it was a bit archaic,” said Dave of the
decision. He analyzed the case under the equal protection clause of the
Because he was largely interested in social issues, after law school Dave spent the early portion of his practice with the New Hampshire Legal Assistance Program in Berlin, N.H., even trying a case in the Superior Court of New Hampshire before then-state Judge David Souter. He returned to Columbus to clerk again for Judge Duncan.
Dave says of his time clerking for Judge Duncan, “I learned the importance of your professional reputation. Your word is an important part of the bedrock of your character. Sometimes the first thing a judge will ask is, ‘Who are the lawyers?’ I also learned the importance of civility – respect for your opposing counsel. Finally, I learned the importance of fair citations to case law. Stretching what the cases say is a recipe for disaster with any judge.”
Following his clerkship, Dave joined the Columbus office of Squire Sanders & Dempsey. “I’ve always done business litigation,” Dave notes. “More recently, my practice has evolved to business counseling and international dispute resolution.” Through work with the International Chamber of Commerce Court of Arbitration, Dave has arbitrated a wide range of commercial disputes, including issues of bank capital adequacy where he represented the Ministry of Finance, Czech Republic; distributor agreements for American companies distributing products in South America; and the disputed value of a mobile telephone carrier in Kyrgyzstan. “More often than not, I serve in the role of an advocate,” Dave says.
Reflecting on his early days in public service, he recalls a story about Justice Souter. To mark Dave’s 40th birthday, a friend of his wrote to David Souter to ask if he would write some remarks about the case Dave had handled in New Hampshire. Justice Souter wrote back, recalling anecdotes from the case, which were read at Dave’s birthday party. Dave says with a laugh, “I enjoyed his closing line best of all which read, ‘May your future likelihood of success be as certain as my likelihood of avoiding reversal.” In the intervening years, Dave's success has been confirmed.
Friends wishing to get in touch can reach him at email@example.com.