Boston University School of Law

In This Issue

Welcome

From Assistant Dean John Riccardi

Greetings from the law tower!

riccardi

Commencement 2013 marked the close of another academic year of global engagement at BU Law. Pomp, circumstance and joyful celebration filled the air, with friends, families and loved ones arriving from around the world to share the momentous occasion.

For me, graduation always invites reflection—not so much to look back upon the “year in review,” but to think about something more enduring: how BU Law’s internationalism, in its many dimensions, shapes and transforms the careers and lives of our students. I hope this edition of our International Newsletter gives you a sense of this.

You’ll meet Ali Delforoush (LL.M. in American Law '13) from Tehran, Iran, who throughout the year shared with our community his rare inside perspective on the social dysfunction infecting his homeland under its current repressive, post-revolution regime.

And you’ll meet Josh Katz (J.D. ’13), whose transformative foreign study experiences in China set him on track for a career in big law.

You’ll read about the appointment of James E. Scott as the new director of our Graduate Program in Banking and Financial Law and his 30+ years of experience in global capital markets, an area of intense interest to the dozens of foreign-trained lawyers who join our graduate programs each year.

You’ll learn about our Graduate Tax Program’s new online option, which gives international tax lawyers a more convenient way to earn the BU LL.M. in Taxation—a highly attractive alternative to our residential program in Boston.

And you will get an update on the School’s expanded global footprint, with new initiatives in Hungary, Spain and Colombia.

Experiencing BU Law’s internationalism—whether on foreign soil or in one’s own back yard—makes a difference. Dong Long (LL.M. in American Law ’13) from China so nicely captured that sentiment in her LL.M. commencement address. Looking into the future, she told the audience, “You will be hearing about changes brought to this world by the people who have been shaped and defined by this year, here in Boston, at the Boston University School of Law.”

I hope you enjoy this newsletter, and, as always, we welcome any feedback.

Have a wonderful summer!

John N. Riccardi
Assistant Dean for Graduate and International Programs

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Features

Ali Delforoush (LL.M. '13) Unveils Life in Iran: New Book Portrays Struggles of People “a Lot Like Us”

ali delforoushAlthough his family left Iran for Toronto when he was 12, Ali Delforoush (LL.M. in American Law ’13) retains an intimate connection to his native country and to a people he believes are largely misunderstood. Visiting friends and relatives in Tehran for a month in 2008, Delforoush began interviewing Iranians about the hardships and contradictions of life in the Islamic Republic. Their stories—of arrests, torture, addiction—were so powerful that Delforoush broadened the project to include 420 interviews over three years. He has published The Iranian Chronicles: Unveiling the Dark Truths of the Islamic Republic (iUniverse, 2012), a book in which he uses composites of these interviews to “humanize” those living under the repressive post-revolutionary regime, people whose interests and passions are strikingly similar to those of Americans.

The book has drawn positive attention and interest, but it also has likely branded Delforoush as a dissident who would face arrest if he returns to Iran. A strong proponent of secular democracy, Delforoush has taken aim at what he calls the “ludicrous” [now-former] Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in the Huffington Post. In his column, which ran during the Persian New Year in March 2010, Delforoush offered a frank explanation for his activism: “What I am is an Iranian forced to leave his country and, like millions of others both inside Iran and outside, I have had enough of this incompetence that is the Islamic republic.”

BU Today recently spoke with Delforoush about his book and the current political climate in Iran at Brookline’s Persian restaurant Khayyam.

BU Today: Why did you begin to collect stories of Iran and its people?

Delforoush: Curiosity. I did political science in school. And my father always encouraged me. He put me in touch with sources, individuals I could interview. At first I was very curious about certain topics, not the grander scheme. How and why do prostitution and narcotic use thrive in Iran, an Islamic zero-tolerance country? At first I interviewed friends of friends who were involved in prostitution or narcotic use to get a perspective of why that is.

What inspired you to broaden your subject matter?

I began with 28 face-to-face interviews with people who then put me in touch with other people. And my first question was, “How do you describe the state of life in Iran?” The overwhelming answer was, “It’s very chaotic. Things are incredibly harsh.” My next question was, “Why?” And people would talk about poor policy, lack of infrastructure, poor planning. This is a year before the 2009 election, during the first term of Ahmadinejad.

What misconceptions about Iran would you like to correct?

Something that really surprised me during my 2008 visit was how Americanized life in Iran is. Part of the reason I decided to write this book was to bring to light for Western audiences that Iranians are in fact pro-Western. They’re not as fundamentalist as certain Arabic countries, and they are actually very much in love with the pop culture that America, and to some extent Canada, oozes. If Americans were to go to an Iranian’s house, they would realize it is not that different from someone’s house in the United States or Canada. Also, a lot of people tend to think Iranians are Arabs. Iranians are very passionate about our culture and like to remind people that our culture existed before the Muslim invasion of 700, and our language is different.

Did you witness any blatant anti-American sentiment when you were there?

I also want to show that the level of fundamentalism we see in other countries, especially that which rose up after September 11, 2001, doesn’t really exist in Iran. This notion of flag burning and anti-U.S. hysteria is not to that extent visible in Iran, even in Tehran. That’s something I wanted to bring out: that life on a daily basis is not anywhere near the way Fox News would interpret it.

You write about the many ways Iranians must obey the regime in public but live more like Westerners in private. Are people just resigned to this double life?

I think Iranians have gotten used to this idea of coming to terms with the oppression of the state at some level. In 2009, you saw the dissent starting to burst out, saw people come out on the street and chant, but due to the iron fist of the state they have to live by the codes of the regime. This is a very oppressive regime that will jail, torture and execute dissidents. But once people are in their private settings, they live life to the fullest, as full as can be under a dictatorship.

iranian chroniclesDo you have a sense of how pervasive opposition to the regime is?

The percentage of people against the regime is very large. Whether they are participants, I can’t put a percentage on that, but everyone I spoke to was opposed to the regime on all levels or some level. Iranians are being extremely pushed, especially with sanctions. While the Ahmadinejad government has been the richest in Iranian history based on sale of petroleum alone, the country is facing 25 to 50 percent inflation, the biggest brain drain ever, and unemployment is skyrocketing. So either people will leave or decide to voice their disenchantment. The breaking point is close, in my opinion.

One of the most powerful stories in the book is that of a gay man.

Yes. That was a difficult story to get. As I mention in the book, there were only four people who were willing to speak about being gay. Two of them were married (to women). In Iran, not only is homosexuality viewed as a sickness, it is forbidden and punishable by imprisonment, corporal punishment or even execution. This is in spite of the fact that homosexuality has been a pretty mainstream concept in Persian society for centuries.

Was there a story that had a particularly powerful effect on you?

The story of Nahid, this fragile university student who represents so much hope. She’s the lifeline of the future. I interviewed her via webcam. She asked to see me at first to make sure I’m not an intelligence worker for the Islamic republic. Toward the end, she showed me her face. She was so brave. Before seeing her I thought she was a lioness, but when I actually got to see her, she was so petite. She had been tortured. It was so sad that this is what the state is doing to its best minds.

How many of your subjects were in Iran at the time of their interviews?

With the exception of the strong dissidents, everyone I spoke to was there. People similar to Nahid, people who went to prison due to their activities in 2009, those interviews were outside of Iran, so it was a very small percentage. But a lot of the individuals I spoke to wanted to leave Iran due to economic and social issues.

How do you feel about Western press coverage of the Iranian opposition?

Unfortunately, because of the regime’s limited access to the Western press, and because the regime tells them where to go and who they can talk to, they wouldn’t have access to prisons or access to families who have people in these prisons. My opinion on Western media is a love and hate relationship. I like the fact that they do cover Iran, but not that they bundle Iranians under the Islamic republic. Because I don’t believe this is a regime that speaks for the people; it speaks for some upper echelons of the ruling party.

Your stories include a lot of detail about the disciplinary forces. Why are they so effective at instilling fear and paranoia?

Islamic republic intelligence is very crafty and cunning and able to root out dissident individuals, who spend time in solitary confinement or are executed and left in a mass grave. It is a small minority that’s brutalizing the population, but at the same time this minority is very vocal. They do public executions, public lashings, raiding parties and hold mass televised interrogations.

What about Internet censorship?

They’re very good at it, but Iranians are very Internet-savvy. They come up with filter breakers. But censorship is one of the biggest issues Iranians face. Almost every facet of the Internet is censored for being immoral or anti-Muslim. News agencies, Facebook, Twitter, BBC, CNN and Voice of America are all filtered, and it’s a shame.

tehran market
Iranian and Western cultures blend together in this scene from a Tehran market. “If Americans were to go to an Iranian’s house, they would realize it is not that different from someone’s house in the United States or Canada,” says Delforoush. Photo by Marco Fieber

Yet Iranians know so much about us.

Iranians are very interested in the American way of life. When I went back in 2008, I found out that my cousin is a drummer and is into heavy metal. He’s a big listener of Metallica and Rage Against the Machine. He’s got Eminem posters. He knows all the popular music of the day. They do access satellite television as much as they can. There is such a strong cultural connection with the United States and Canada. Part of the reason Iranians want an open dialogue with the West is so many Iranians have relatives in the West.

Is there any chance of real change within the existing system?

I believe in a secular government with church and state not under the same rule. I’d like to see a democratic Iran that includes a strong parliamentary system with checks and balances. At the same time, this system can change internally. The grand ayatollah can give more powers to, say, the office of the presidency and start to demand accountability and protection of human rights. I’m all for more accountability from the mullahs, the upper echelons of the regime, but for lack of a better term, there has to be revolution for real positive change to take place in Iran.

What do Iranians think about all the saber rattling on the nuclear issue?

A lot of people I spoke to say, “We are so much consumed with trying to keep a roof over our heads and food in our stomachs, we don’t give a damn about this nuclear energy. It’s causing a lot of pain, and it could cost us our lives.”

How do the people you spoke with feel about the shah?

Iranians revolted against the shah because the monarchy perpetuated a great divide between the rich and poor and did violate human rights as much as the mullahs. And at the end of the day Iranians don’t want any form of monarchy to return. Right now we have a theocratic regime, and that is autocratic; they don’t want that either. But many Iranians do think that under the shah, things were somewhat better, even though they don’t want to go back to those days. But those who have lived under both regimes note that women had rights under the shah, and women are second-class citizens now.

Do you want your book to leave people with some hope for Iran’s future?

My whole goal is to show that life is difficult and sad in Iran. But there is hope, and we saw hope in the form of the 2009 demonstrations. You saw all these bright young men and women standing shoulder to shoulder, demanding a better government and a better future. That for me was a great example of hope—that one day there will be democracy, human rights, women’s rights, homosexual rights and minority rights in Iran. I want people to understand the nuances of oppression, but I also want people to be more sympathetic to this population, to understand that these people are being harmed, but they have incredible spirit, and they’re not that different from anyone living here.

Is it safe for you to visit Iran, now that your book has been published?

It wouldn’t be wise for me to travel in Iran. The book is fairly dissident. I reported on human rights violations, especially after the 2009 election. You can’t give up your Iranian citizenship, so I would not be granted any immunity. I would be persecuted for crimes against the state, which has consequences all the way up to execution.

Reported by Susan Seligson, Senior Writer/Editor, BU Today

This story originally appeared in BU Today.

 

 

Josh Katz (J.D. ’13) Studies in China: His Pathway to an International Firm

josh katz in chinaAfter spending three years in China playing in a jazz band and teaching jazz music, Josh Katz (J.D. ’13) knew he wanted to return someday. Through study abroad opportunities at BU Law, he was able to achieve this dream.

“It was something on my checklist when looking at law schools,” says Katz. “Even for students who don’t know they want to go abroad, you should go abroad.”

Katz spent his 2L summer in Tianjin, a city about an hour outside of Beijing, through a summer internship program for law students that he found through the international resources at BU Law’s Office of Career Development. Working at a local firm, he handled contracts, litigation and arbitration cases, completed research, and wrote memos. Katz learned a significant amount about non-Western work culture and what life would be like as a professional in a foreign environment. Particularly challenging—and educational—was the language barrier.

“I would go into a partner’s office, and he would explain a work assignment to me in Chinese,” says Katz. “I had to walk that line between knowing what the assignment was and being respectful enough to not keep asking, 'What do you mean?,' coming off as incompetent.”

Despite that challenge, the experience was an important one. “It was definitely valuable because I got to experience what life at a real Chinese firm would be,” explains Katz.

Katz then studied abroad the fall semester of his 3L year, taking classes (in English!) through the LL.M. in Chinese Law Program at Tsinghua University in Beijing, one of BU Law’s 17 foreign study programs. Though the curriculum focuses exclusively on the Chinese legal system, all of the students are international, and most of the faculty—including Tsinghua’s full-time professors—have studied outside of the country, bringing an international perspective to the classroom.

“Once you’re going to class and lectures full time, you start to understand the big picture,” Katz explains.

That being said, he believes that the lessons learned outside the classroom when studying abroad are often the most valuable.

“Not only is it fun, there are softer skills that you pick up that you wouldn’t otherwise,” he explains. Katz notes, for example, the value of conducting research with foreign sources, navigating cultural differences in the classroom, and networking with people of various nationalities. “It’s cool to try something new and meet people from different cultures and educational systems.”

The experience was made all the more enjoyable because of the enormous support he received from the program. Not only did they help him when any administrative issues arose, the program coordinators assisted him in his housing search and organized trips to museums and the Great Wall. “They made it comfortable by guiding us through everything. Someone was always there to help me when I needed it.”

Additionally, Katz was able to travel with classmates and friends living abroad to Shanghai, Inner Mongolia, Chengdu and around Beijing.

Overall, his study abroad experiences have paved the way for his future career. Having graduated from BU Law in May, Katz will begin work this fall as an associate in the financial services department of Dechert, an international law firm that will allow him to continue to explore China.

“I’ll be starting in Boston, but they have offices in Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai,” says Katz. “They can send you to one of the other international offices so you can work up to 18 months there.”

As businesses become increasingly global in scope, Katz knows he had a leg up on other applicants because of his experiences abroad.

“The firm said my language skills and experience living and working abroad reflected positively on my character, and they may have practical application working in one of their Asia offices.”

 

“LL.M.-to-J.D.” Transfer Student, Diego Perez (LL.M. ’12, J.D.’14), Pursues International Arbitration  

diego perezYou might not expect that a 2L was formerly in-house counsel for British Petroleum; but that’s exactly what Diego Perez (LL.M. ’12, J.D.’14) brings to BU Law’s already impressive J.D. student body.

A 2012 graduate of BU Law’s LL.M. in American Law Program, Diego received his first degree in law in Venezuela in 2009, and amassed several years of practice experience in his native country before embarking on graduate studies. With shrinking career opportunities in Venezuela for young professionals in light of the country’s delicate political climate, Perez’s ultimate goal shifted soon after he arrived: from studying the U.S. legal system for a year to earning a degree that would help him establish a practice in America for the long haul.

“Even though it is possible to practice in the U.S. with an LL.M. degree, it is much, much harder,” explains Perez. “With a J.D., it’s an easier transition, and obtaining long-term employment becomes more likely.”

With this in mind, he applied to transfer—and was accepted into—BU Law’s J.D. Program, receving a full year of academic credit for his LL.M. studies. Perez credits the Office of Graduate and International Programs and his professors for helping to ease the transition.

“They have made it really easy for me to adapt to the situation, and I’m really grateful for that,” says Perez “We have amazing professors and great courses, and I have nothing but gratitude to BU Law.”

Perez originally enrolled in law school in Venezuela because he “didn’t want anything to do with numbers.” But he soon found a deep and unwavering passion for the law and its practice.

“I like the thrill of being in a courtroom, defending what you think is right, and if you win, even better,” says Perez. “I like to argue, so it makes it a lot of fun.”

As a J.D. candidate, Perez has been able to seize myriad opportunities available to students intending to practice in the U.S. Through the on-campus interviewing program, he landed a summer associate position at the international law firm Hogan Lovells in New York. During the spring semester, he worked as a research assistant for Professor William “Rusty” Park, R. Gordon Butler Scholar in International LawProfessor of Law and President of the London Court of International Arbitration—a valuable experience Perez hopes to continue throughout his time at BU Law.

“Professor Park, an arbitrator himself, is a very important man in his field,” explained Perez. “I’m really looking forward to gaining more exposure to his work and continuing to learn.”

Perez plans to continue honing his litigation skills as a 3L through BU Law’s moot court competitions. After he completes his J.D., he hopes to work in international arbitration and pursue his love of litigation on a global platform.

“I want to leave the door open to go back to my home country. International arbitration allows me to litigate in the same way whether it’s in the U.S. or Venezuela or Uruguay, so I think it is a good path for me.”

For now, Perez is enjoying making the most of the opportunities available to him at BU Law.

“It has been a really good experience overall, “ says Perez. “I have really enjoyed it, and it is something that has meant a lot to me.”

 

 

 

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School News

Discourse at a Distance: The Online Option for the Graduate Tax Program Breaks New Ground for MET and LAW

The Graduate Tax Program’s online option sucessfully launched in the 2012-2013 academic year with 39 students—two of whom earned their first law degrees internationally, representing law schools in China and France. With 11 participants joining in Summer 2013, including one student from Thailand, the online program's diverse student body now consists of 50 students from 43 law schools and 4 countries. The following article, which originally appeared in Metropolitan Winter 2013, offers further insight into the online option's initial success, as well the development of Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Professor of Law David Walker’s Federal Tax Law course.

Watch a few minutes of Professor Walker's class

This past year, Boston University School of Law collaborated with Metropolitan College’s (MET) Distance Education office to launch the online option for the Master of Laws (LL.M.) in Taxation. Students around the country may now study the finer points of tax law at what Princeton Review consistently ranks among the top law schools in the U.S. for “Best Professors.” BU Law also ranks 7th among U.S. law schools that offer the LL.M. in Taxation, according to the 2014 edition of U.S. News & World Report.

According to Assistant Dean Riccardi, “The online option for the Graduate Tax Program will enable practitioners throughout the country—and indeed the world—to receive the same rigorous training in tax law that the residential program has provided since 1959, but in an accessible, flexible format that fits with their busy professional lives.”

BU’s LL.M. in Taxation degree, now one of the first law program options designed specifically for a distance learning audience, utilizes robust multimedia and interactive instruction to help practitioners master the fundamental concepts of tax law, while gaining an understanding of how complex tax issues are handled across a variety of practical settings.

“There is little doubt that online instruction will play an increasing role in legal education in the U.S.,” says Riccardi. “If we are to compete globally for the best students, we need to offer flexible options that appeal to a greater number of working professionals.”

Online instruction is new territory for nearly all law faculty, but, as Riccardi notes, they have approached it with open minds. “Deconstructing a class that has been taught only in the classroom and transforming it into a pedagogically sound online format has been highly edifying for the faculty. Our work with MET’s Office of Distance Education has given us valuable experience and will position us well to keep pace with the needs of the next generation of law students.”

The initial required course in the program, Federal Tax Law, was taught by BU Law’s Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor of Law David Walker, a recipient of BU’s 2011 Metcalf Award for Excellence in Teaching. For Walker and MET Senior Instructional Designer Brad Kay.Goodman (SED ‘05), the course was an opportunity to use multimedia to emulate the back-and-forth of the live classroom, where ideas get bounced around and reshaped.

“Professor Walker has taken President Obama’s tax return from last year, and, in an integrated Flash and video piece, he goes through the tax return line by line. The form actually serves to outline the course curriculum while highlighting what students are going to learn,” says Nancy Coleman (GSM ’07), director of MET’s Distance Education office. “At specific intervals, students have to answer a series of interactive questions to make sure they understand the highlights of the video. We’re able to present information and then ask students to analyze it, identify key elements and present it back to us.”

According to Professor Walker, “My goal has been to make the process as interactive as possible by incorporating a multitude of questions and problems that the students must grapple with as they work their way through my video and textual materials.”

“We’ve created a model that is going to be very effective, using methods that will change how we design courses,” asserts Kay.Goodman.

Coleman agrees: “In launching the tax program option, we have overcome a significant hurdle. We were able to create the kind of interactive content that is true to the pedagogy of the law program. We’re very excited about that.”

Reported by Nathaniel Bradley, Senior Copy Writer/Editor, Metropolitan College

This article originally appeared in Metropolitan Winter 2013.

 

International Law Society named Best All-Around Chapter Nationwide for 2012-2013

gavel and globeBoston University School of Law’s International Law Society (ILS) has been named Best All-Around Chapter in the nation for the 2012-2013 academic year.

The International Law Students Association (ILSA), the national affiliate, commended the BU Law chapter for collaboration with interdisciplinary organizations, faculty involvement, and the scope and variety of activities offered throughout the year.

"I am very proud of this year's International Law Society," says ILS president Kelly Soltis (J.D. '14). "The executive board has been instrumental in organizing and promoting all of our events, and the members made them successful with their attendance and interest in the variety of issues in international law we presented. This is an important and growing field in today's legal profession, so I am glad that the ILS is able to bring awareness to the student body of many international legal issues. I look forward to seeing what the ILS will accomplish in the years to come."

One of BU Law’s most active student organizations, the International Law Society promotes awareness of global events and a greater understanding of diverse legal cultures and their role in the world today. ILS sponsors a variety of events throughout the year to bring students, faculty, law professionals and other interested parties together to learn more about this dynamic area of law.

To read what ILSA had to say about BU Law’s International Law Society’s exceptional year, visit the BU Law Web site.

 

 

The Executive LL.M. in International Business Law Program Expands to Budapest

budapestBU Law is expanding the global scope of its Executive LL.M. in International Business Law Program by launching its first international residential session. Beginning in June 2013, students will be able to pursue their degree requirement in Budapest, Hungary, as well as in Boston. Budapest—a beautiful city that is closer to home for many Europe-based lawyers—offers the program’s international participants an attractive venue option to fulfill the program’s residency requirements.

The Budapest residency is made possible through a partnership with Eötvos Lorand University’s Faculty of Law (ELTE), which will host the session. Master’s students from ELTE as well as Lazarski University’s Faculty of Law in Warsaw, Poland, will attend classes and workshops alongside BU Law LL.M. students.

BU Law faculty will teach two courses—U.S. Contract Law for the International Lawyer and U.S. Corporate Law for the International Lawyer. The Current Issues in Business Law Colloquium luncheon workshop, arranged in conjunction with Center for International Legal Studies in Salzburg, Austria, will include guest speakers presenting on a number of relevant topics, including international legal ethics, negotiating merger remedies with antitrust authorities, and developments in Hungarian competition law.

Eighteen students from eight different countries are currently completing the one-month, online, pre-residency component in preparation for this inaugural two-week residency session. During their time in Budapest, they will spend the majority of their days in intensive classes, building upon their pre-residency learning through discussions with faculty and students.

BU Law's collaboration in Budapest has opened a new opportunity for graduates of BU Law's LL.M. programs who are interested in furthering their interest in international commercial law and learning about cross-border practice from a European perceptive: They may apply to Lazarski Law School's LL.M. in Transnational Commercial Practice and, if admitted, receive up to 12 credits in advanced standing towards the Lazarski LL.M. degree. Interested alumni should contact Professor Dennis Campbell, executive director of the Center for International Legal Studies, or visit the Web site.

Since its launch in 2011, the Executive LL.M. program has grown to 40 students from over 30 countries, with nearly every continent represented. It has also continued to expand in terms of curricular options and flexibility—in addition to the online concentration in International Taxation introduced in 2012 and the Budapest sessions added in 2013, this fall the program plans to offer its second online concentration, a concentration in International Environmental and Energy Law. In 2014, the ELLM program hopes to add two new courses to its list of electives, one in International Business Compliance and the other in Deals: The Economic Structure of Transactions and Contracting.

 

 

Study Abroad Update: New Partnerships in Madrid and Colombia Broaden Student Options and Expand Global Connections

madridBU Law kicked off two new partnerships this year that will broaden overseas options for J.D. students as well expand the universe of international law students pursuing U.S. legal studies in the law tower.

Expanding its portfolio of international dual (J.D./LL.M.) programs, the School of Law witnessed the inaugural year of its third full-year, dual-degree international exchange program—this one with Universidad Pontificia Comillas (ICADE), one of Spain’s most esteemed law schools, known for its strengths in commercial and business law, in Madrid, Spain. Through this partnership, up to two BU Law J.D. students can enroll in ICADE’s Master’s in International and European Business Law for their entire 3L year, allowing them to earn both the BU Law J.D. and the ICADE LL.M. at the end of the year. In exchange, ICADE students can enroll in BU Law’s LL.M. in American Law Program, allowing them to earn both the BU Law LL.M. and the ICADE LL.B. at the end of their fourth year of legal studies. The structure of the ICADE program is similar to BU Law’s international dual degree programs with the National University of Singapore and the University of Paris II.

BU Law's inaugural participant, Mark Samra (J.D. ’13), recently returned from his year in Madrid with glowing reviews.

mark samra
Mark Samra (J.D. '13)

“The professors in the program are incredible. They are all practicing professionals who teach on the side, and they all work at the highest levels of what they teach,” says Samra, who will begin work as an associate at Seward & Kissel LLP in the fall. “The program is a great introduction to the current EU framework and how it affects businesses operating in Europe.”

In March 2013, BU Law furthered its presence in Latin America by launching a new, one-way Special Visiting Student program with the Faculty of Law at the University of Rosario in Bogotá, Colombia. Through this partnership, advanced law students from Rosario can enroll at BU Law as non-degree visiting students for a fall or spring semester, taking J.D. classes. Upon completing their Rosario degrees, participating students would be eligible for advanced standing in the LL.M. in American Law Program.

"Our new partnership with Rosario links us with one of the premier law schools in Colombia, a country with whom the U.S. is destined to have increased commercial activities as a result of the new Free Trade Agreement," says Assistant Dean Riccardi. "We look forward to welcoming Rosario students and to creating further links with Colombia's practicing bar."

This is the School's second "one-way" exchange: In 2012, BU Law joined forces with the University of Basel in Switzerland on a visiting student program. During the 2012-2013 academic year, a total of six Basel students participated, two of whom stayed the full year and received the LL.M. in American Law degree in May. One of the spring exchange students from Basel will remain in Boston over the summer and earn his LL.M. in American Law degree at the end of the fall 2013 semester.

In 2012-2013, BU Law students pursued foreign studies at the following partner schools:

  • Harris Manchester College, Oxford University (Oxford, England)
  • Université Panthéon-Assas (Paris II) (Paris, France)
  • National University of Singapore (Singapore)
  • Universidad Pontificia Comillas (ICADE) (Madrid, Spain)
  • University College London (London, England)
  • Tsinghua University (Beijing, China)

 

 

BU Law’s 2012 Summer Legal Institute in London: Legal English and Global Business Transactions Program

summer legal  institute bu law
SLI 2012 participants in front of Boston University’s London Center at 43 Harrington Gardens

Summer 2012 marked the 10th anniversary of BU Law’s Summer Legal Institute in London (SLI) and the second year of its innovative Legal English and Global Business Transactions Program.

The three-week program, “Practical Skills in Structuring, Drafting and Negotiating International Business Agreements in English from a U.S. Law Perspective,” gave students practical training in the contractual aspects of international business transactions, as well as in the use of legal English in a range of written and oral communications that international lawyers commonly encounter.

BU Law Professors Virginia Greiman, Robert Volk and Constance Browne and CELOP instructors Michael Feldman and Lynn Bonesteel provided intensive, highly personal instruction to 16 select students from 10 different countries, who praised the program for its practical training and substantive curriculum. That the program overlapped with one week of the London Olympics only added to the unique experience.

“For me, the 2012 Summer Legal Institute provided great preparation for my year of LL.M. studies at BU Law,” said Cristiano Cardoso Dias (LL.M. in American Law ’13), who earned his first law degree in Brazil. “It was a very effective way to become familiar with the American legal system—and London in the summer is just amazing.”

BU Law's Summer 2013 Legal Institute in London will again feature the Legal English and Global Business Transactions Program. For more information, see this brochure. For application instructions, click here.

 

 

BU Law Hosts 25 Chinese Law Students and Professors for Summer Workshop on American Business Law

The School of Law is pleased to once again host a group of Chinese law students and academics this summer in partnership with the U.S.-China Legal Exchange Foundation (UCLEF), a U.S.-based nonprofit established to improve communications and enhance understanding between the peoples of China and the U.S. Organized by the Executive LL.M. Program office, BU will provide a workshop devoted to a number of subjects related to business law from August 1 – 7, 2013.

Several members of BU Law’s faculty, as well as staff and alumni, will deliver lectures to the UCLEF delegation: Professor Stacey Dogan (Introduction to Property and Intellectual Property); Professor Mark Pettit (Contracts); Professor David Webber (Securities Regulation); Professor Emeritus Dan Partan (Introduction to Trade Law); Associate Director of the Banking and Financial Law Program Martin A. Lacdao, (LL.M. in Banking and Financial Law ’04, Introduction to Banking Law); Zachary H. Smith (J.D. ’03) and Joseph V. Zujkowski (J.D. ’07), both of O'Melveny & Myers in New York City (Introduction to Bankruptcy Law); and Director of the Executive LL.M. Program Dr. Ian C. Pilarczyk (J.D. ’95, Introduction to American Law and Introduction to ADR).

The last day of the program will consist of a tour of the U.S. District Court (including a tour of the Moakley Courthouse and a judicial hearing), a panel discussion at Bowditch & Dewey, and a farewell banquet. This was the third such workshop organized for UCLEF since 2011.

 

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LL.M. Class Snapshot

bu law llm grad hat tossOn May 19 at Boston University School of Law’s 140th Commencement ceremony, 187 LL.M. candidates received degrees. Forty-four graduates completed the LL.M. in Taxation program—29 studied full-time and 15 completed the requirements on a part-time basis. While the tax program largely attracts domestic students, this year’s graduating class represented four countries: Angola, Brazil, Korea and the United States.

The Graduate Program in Banking and Financial Law Class of 2013 was comprised of 47 students hailing from 28 different countries, including Hungary, Mozambique and Slovakia.

The LL.M. in American Law Program’s Class of 2013 was the largest with 89 graduates. This diverse group represented 32 countries worldwide, including Luxembourg, Norway and Vietnam.

BU Law conferred Executive LL.M. in International Business Law degrees to seven distinguished attorneys. These experienced practitioners hail from both U.S.-based and international employers, including the Ohio Sixth District Court of Appeals, Honeywell International Inc., GS Engineering & Construction Corp in the United Arab Emirates, Aguilar Castillo Love in Honduras, Studio Legale Sutti in Italy, Costa Rica Global Law Inc. in Costa Rica, and Sakhalin Energy Investment Company Ltd. in Russia.

LL.M. class speaker Dong Long (LL.M. in American Law ‘13) from China joined BU Law from Dalian Maritime University, where she earned her LL.B. in maritime law in 2012. While at BU, Long focused her studies on international business practice, and she hopes to combine these interests by pursuing a career in corporate law.

The following awards and prizes were presented to graduates of our LL.M. Programs:

Sebastian Horsten Prize for Academic Achievement, to the LL.M. in American Law student who has achieved the highest cumulative average in the class of 2013: Beatrice Botti

American Law Outstanding Achievement Award, for excellence in academic achievement, honorable conduct and contributions to the class: Christian Alberto Molina Estevez

Graduate Tax Program Academic Achievement Award, for the highest cumulative average in the class of 2013: Eric G. Kevorkian

Ernest M. Haddad Award, to the graduating Graduate Tax Program student who best exhibits overall ability, taking into consideration academic achievement, character and potential to serve the public interest: Joseph E. Hunt, IV

A. John Serino Outstanding Graduate Banking and Financial Law Student Prize, for overall performance, in terms of academic achievement and dedication to the highest standards of scholarship and service: Jean-Philippe Joyal and Vasileios Krokidis

Dennis S. Aronowitz Award for Academic Excellence in Banking and Financial Law, for the highest cumulative average in the class of 2013: Kerem Tayhac Sagocak

A recap of BU Law’s 140th Commencement ceremony, including a photo slideshow and a video of The Honorable Donald B. Verrilli, Jr.’s, remarks, is available on our Web site.

 

 

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LL.M. Program Updates

BU Law’s LL.M. Programs experienced a banner year in 2012-2013. The National Law Journal, in its 2013 “Best Of” edition, named two of the school’s graduate programs among the nation’s best: Our Graduate Program in Banking and Financial Law and our Graduate Tax Program both ranked second among America’s LL.M. programs in their respective fields.

In addition to the launch of our Graduate Tax Program’s online option and the expansion of the Executive LL.M. in International Business Law Program, the year was marked by activities that underscored the programs’ strengths and commitment to delivering superior LL.M. experiences.

 

James E. Scott, Former General Counsel of Morgan Stanley Bank, Named Director of Graduate Program in Banking and Financial Law

jim scottIn May 2013, James E. Scott, the former chief regulatory counsel of Morgan Stanley and general counsel of Morgan Stanley Bank, was appointed director of BU Law’s Graduate Program in Banking and Financial Law. Scott brings to BU Law over 30 years of experience in the financial service industry. Prior to Morgan Stanley, he worked as in-house counsel for several other major banking organizations, including Citigroup, Bankers Trust Company, Bank of America Corporation and Security Pacific Corporation. He also served as senior counsel for the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System in Washington, DC. He has been member of the BU Law’s adjunct faculty, teaching a course in International Banking Structure and Regulation.

"We are delighted to welcome a new director with sterling professional credentials, extensive experience in the banking and finance world, and an already strong connection with BU Law," said Assistant Dean Riccardi.

Scott joined Morgan Stanley after its decision to convert to a bank holding company in 2008. He served as the senior bank regulatory attorney for the firm during the four years after conversion, advising on banking policies and procedures, the scope of permissible activities for the firm in its new role, interaction with bank examiners and regulators and compliance, audit and other control functions. As general counsel of Morgan Stanley’s lead bank subsidiary, he also advised the board of the bank and its audit, management and compensation committees, including with respect to application of the Dodd Frank Act and accompanying regulatory reforms in the aftermath of the financial crisis.

“The events of the last five years have reshaped the substance and scope of financial services law and regulation to a greater degree than at any time since the Great Depression,” Scott said. “It is an exciting time for young lawyers to be starting a career in financial services law, and I am honored to be part of a program that is unique in the country in focusing on that type of legal career.”

In addition to teaching at BU Law, Scott has taught at the Law School of the University of California at Berkeley, Catholic University’s Columbus School of Law and Pennsylvania State University’s School of Business. From 2005 to 2008, he chaired the Banking Law Committee of the American Bar Association.

 

 

Teaching Assistant Program Launched to Support LL.M. Studies

Understanding the unique needs of BU Law’s international LL.M. students enrolled in J.D. classes, the School launched a newTeaching Assistant Program, in which available upper-class J.D. students held weekly review and discussion sessions for classes with 10 or more LL.M. students. The program provided an effective platform for raising questions about case law pedagogy as well as the substantive doctrines at issue. The weekly, optional meetings were designed to complement, not replace, the ability of all LL.M. students to address their questions by meeting individually with their instructors during office hours.

“Being able to meet weekly and to participate in a group discussion lead by an enthusiastic and knowledgeable J.D. student helped our adjustment to the unique setting of the J.D. classroom," says Anthony Kelaimis (LL.M. in American Law '13). “It was a great way to make sure we were on-track in our learning.”

Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor David Walker spearheaded the initiative and is enthusiastic about its future. “It quickly became clear that this was a win-win for all. The LL.M. students benefitted; the teaching assistants gained valuable instructional experience; and our faculty were better able to monitor how the LL.M. students were progressing in their understanding of the materials.”

In addition to the Teaching Assistant Program, which will continue into the 2013-2014 academic year, LL.M. students have access to J.D. tutors in their fall semester Legal Research and Writing Seminar and—in the spring—access to a professional legal writing coach to help them structure and polish their academic writings, such as seminar papers or independent studies.

 

Experiencing the Real World of U.S. Practice

The American Law Internship Program

Spring 2013 marked the third year of BU Law’s American Law Internship Program—a unique program designed to place LL.M. in American Law students in short-term, post-graduation legal internships in a range of U.S. practice settings. The internships, which generally begin in September after graduation, are meant to serve as “capstone” experiences to the LL.M. year, furthering students’ understanding of U.S. legal culture, refining their professional development skills and expanding their global networks.

shiyuan xu

Assistant Dean John Riccardi and Shiyuan Xu

Past placements have included internships with the law offices of Christine Tour-Sarkissian in San Francisco, Brainscape in New York City and Exemplar Law LLC in Boston.

Shiyuan Xu (LL.M. in American Law ’12), who participated in the 2012 program, learned a great deal during internships with Exemplar Law LL.C. “During the internship, I conducted legal research, composed legal memos, assisted with marketing projects and worked with the capital team,” she says. “Learning from, and interacting with, established professionals helped me learn more about workplace culture in the U.S. I was able to gain the practical skills needed to succeed in today’s competitive legal environment. Participating in this program was an unforgettable and transformative experience.”

A March kick-off event for the 2013 program featured a talk by Cynthia Singer-Riordan, program director at the Academic Internship Council (AIC), BU Law’s partner in this initiative. This not-for-profit educational organization, which designs and implements customized internship programs, is the North American counterpart to European Study Abroad (EUSA), the European internship organization with which Boston University has had a relationship for more than 25 years.

Spring 2013 LL.M. Discovery Series

ALP discovery seriesThe LL.M. Discovery Series, designed to expose students to U.S. practice settings, featured visits to a range of institutions:

In March, LL.M. students visited Sally & Fitch LLP, one of Boston’s top litigation boutiques, to hear partner Kurt Kusiak (’91) discuss the important topic of “What Foreign Lawyers Should Know When Hiring U.S. Litigation Counsel.”

Offering a live look into the U.S. criminal justice system, Professor Wendy Kaplan hosted a visit to the state court criminal trials in April at the Edward W. Brooke Courthouse in Boston. Her detailed commentary throughout the hearings shed light on the proceedings and helped clarify the process for those witnessing American court for the first time.

Also in April, over 20 American Law students visited the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts to meet with Chief Judge Patti B. Saris. During the visit, which was hosted by Arthur Pressman (a partner at the Boston law firm Nixon Peabody and instructor in professional responsibility for the LL.M. program), students observed a pre-trial hearing and had a discussion with Chief Judge Saris on various topics, including the appointment process for federal judges, a defendant’s right to counsel, and federal court jurisdiction.

 

Gaining Global Prospective: Graduate Program in Banking and Financial Law Events

The Graduate Program in Banking and Financial Law continued its long-standing tradition of hosting events that explore global financial issues:

The Lunchtime Conversation Series, open to all LL.M. and J.D. students, featured talks on such timely topics as:

  • "Global Warming in Financial Services Regulation: More Than a Temporary Hot Spell" by James E. Scott, former senior counsel at Morgan Stanley;
  • “Directive 2002/47/EC on Financial Collateral Agreements” by Professor Chiara Abatangelo, University of Padova;
  • "21st Century Financial Crises" by Dr. Harvey Rosenblum, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas; and
  • "Cyprus et al: The Geopolitical Interdependence of Financial Law and Regulation" by Bob Bench, former deputy U.S. comptroller of the Currency.

 

LL.M. Alumni Lend Professional Development Advice and Support

The School’s comprehensive LL.M. professional development services provided multiple opportunities for students to connect with successful graduates, who shared their experiences and advice at a series of professional development events.

career panelCareers in Banking and Financial Services Law Series – To keep students current on recent hiring trends in the financial services industry, the Office of LL.M. Professional Development and the Graduate Program in Banking and Financial Law (BFL) held a series of career panels featuring BFL alumni hailing from such countries as Canada, France, China, Brazil, Kenya and Lebanon, as well as the U.S.

Participating alumni included Robert Tammero (LL.M. in Banking and Financial Law '11), associate at Craig and Macauley PC; Walid Sharara (LL.M. in Banking and Financial Law '10), investment management associate at K&L Gates; Claudia Gongora (LL.M. in Banking and Financial Law '11), foreclosure prevention counselor at the Neighborhood of Affordable Housing; Adriana Rojas (LL.M. in Banking and Financial Law '07), counsel for Absolute Return Capital LLC, Brookside Capital LLC and Sankaty Advisors LLC, the trading affiliates of Bain Capital; Doris Liu (LL.M. '07) and Sophie Feng (LL.M. '07), Chinese natives who founded LF International Law Group, based in New York with alliance offices in San Francisco, Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai and Chongqing, China; Bassem Daher (LL.M. in Banking and Financial Law ‘08) from Lebanon, chief executive officer of SGG USA Inc., New York; and Constance Delzant (LL.M. in Banking and Financial Law ‘08) from France, senior negotiator at Boston Community Capital.

In February, international LL.M. alumni participated on a panel to discuss strategies for obtaining legal positions in the United States. Sharing tips with current LL.M. students were:

  • Towers Watson In-house Counsel Andrea Armelin da Cunha (LL.M. in American Law ‘08) of Brazil;
  • PAREXEL International Corp. Senior Counsel Wolf Mueller-Hillebrand (LL.M. in American Law ‘07) of Germany;
  • The Debt Exchange in Boston Trader Ana Marban-Lorenzo (LL.M. in American Law ‘10) of Spain and
  • Babson Capital Management LLC Counsel Peter Mugo (LL.M. in Banking and Financial Law ‘98) of Kenya.

 

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