- Message from John Riccardi
- Feature Stories
- School News
- LL.M. Class Snapshot
- International Law Events at BU Law
Greetings from the law tower!
The first pitch has crossed the plate at Fenway. Spring has arrived. And for many, a countdown has begun—not just to commencement (read: the end of exams!), but to the launch of a global career fueled by the transformative experience of a BU Law education. In this edition of our International Newsletter, I hope you’ll get a sense of the global launching pad that is BU Law.
You’ll read about Sara Aalamri, a 2010 graduate of our Graduate Program in Banking and Law, who recently became the first of four women ever to receive a license to practice law in Saudi Arabia.
You’ll meet Yuiko Matsumura (LL.M. ’12, J.D. ’14), a Japanese patent attorney and current third-year J.D. student whose dreams of becoming an international lawyer equipped to “bridge” Asia and the U.S. have taken root at BU Law through the School’s dual degree program at the National University of Singapore.
And you’ll hear the first-hand perspectives of two International Human Rights clinical students—Aaron Lang (J.D. ’15) and Sarah Bidinger (J.D. ’15)—whose travels to Egypt and Turkey to research, assess and report on the Syrian refugee crisis in these countries have transformed their understanding of this critical issue as they prepare for international careers.
In addition to the updates you’ll read about, I’d like to highlight a few upcoming events of note to our incoming (and future) LL.M. candidates.
In May, BU Law alumni throughout the world will be hosting incoming LL.M. student receptions in Paris, Tokyo, Taipei, Bangkok, Beijing and Shanghai. (Invitations will be forthcoming; if you'd like information, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.) Our 2014 Summer Legal Institute in London—an intensive thee-week program for international lawyers on “Legal English and Transnational Practice: Drafting and Negotiating International Commercial Agreements”—will begin on July 6th. And come August, BU Law's new Legal English Certificate/Two-Year LL.M. Program option will welcome its first group of international lawyers, who will spend their first year in an intensive, customized program in Legal English and U.S. legal culture before commencing full-time LL.M. studies the following year.
This all takes place in the backdrop of a truly transformative moment for BU Law: the fall 2014 opening of the Sumner M. Redstone Building, a state-of-the-art learning center designed to support law instruction at its finest. To all our incoming international students, I look forward to welcoming you to your brand new “home away from home” in the Redstone Building.
Happy reading and all best wishes for a relaxing and pleasant summer.
John N. Riccardi
Assistant Dean for Graduate and International Programs
Sara Aalamri (LL.M. in Banking & Financial Law ’10) becomes one of first four licensed women attorneys in Saudi Arabia
Sara Aalamri—a 2010 graduate of BU Law’s Graduate Program in Banking and Financial Law and associate at the law firm Al-Ghazzawi Professional Association in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia—is a pioneer. With quiet self-confidence and determination, Aalamri became the first of four women ever to receive a license to practice law in Saudi Arabia in October 2013.
When she began her studies 10 years ago at King Abdulaziz University in her hometown of Jeddah, Aalamri could not conceive of such a possibility because the opportunity didn’t exist.
“I was attending the business school, and law was one of the general subjects that we studied in our first year,” she says. “I found it quite intriguing. In my second year, the University became the first in Saudi Arabia to open the law major to women, so I decided to major in law. At that point, I didn’t consider whether or not I’d have a chance to work as a lawyer, but where there’s a will there’s a way. King Abdulaziz University is a government university. In offering us a law major, it meant that they must have had some sort of vision for the future.”
There were women lawyers in Saudi Arabia before the first four licenses were granted, but they were known as legal consultants and did not have the same rights as men. They worked as researchers and advisors and could appear in court as part of a team or, pursuant to a power of attorney, appear in the capacity of a representative. But they could not get licensed to appear before court to represent and advocate for clients in their capacity as lawyers or to open their own firms. “Now we officially have all the rights of a lawyer,” says Aalamri.
She makes her journey sound like just another day at the office, despite the fact that her employment options in Saudi Arabia remain limited: women in her country account for less than 20 percent of the work force. However, rather than dwell on the limitations of her current situation, Aalamri prefers to focus on the gains women have made in recent years, and says her own experience as a working woman has been exceedingly positive.
The path to becoming a licensed attorney in Saudi Arabia is different than in the United States. The first step is a bachelor’s degree in legal studies by an accredited university in Saudi Arabia or abroad, or a degree in Sharia. If the degree-holder is hired by a law firm, he—and now she—registers a training contract with the Ministry of Justice. After working at the firm for three years, the lawyer applies for a license and the Ministry assesses the applicant’s work experience. Those with a master’s degree only need to practice for one year, and those with a doctorate are excused from the practice requirement. Licenses are submitted for renewal every five years.
Aalamri completed her B.A. with honors in 2008, and applied to several firms for a job. She received an offer from Al-Ghazzawi Professional Association, one of the country’s largest law firms, with offices in the Kingdom’s three major cities. “There were no other female lawyers there,” she says. “The senior managing partner said to me, ‘We’re going to begin by training you on different aspects of the law and in the different fields that we practice here at the firm. And you’ll be treated the same as your male colleagues.’”
To comply with Saudi law, Aalamri was given a separate office from the men—which, she says, she “didn’t allow to become a barrier”—but in every other way she did, in fact, receive the same treatment, and was quickly accepted by her colleagues.
“This is a highly professional firm, and they look at a person’s level of competence. Gender was never an issue, although I think they didn’t know what to expect. But they liked my excitement and enthusiasm, and they saw how hard I was willing to work and how much I wanted to learn. I was also persistent: whenever I didn’t have work, I just asked for anything I could read—whether regulations, notes of advice, cases or contracts. And when the partners and senior associates saw some of the research and analyses that I did, they started sharing more and more work with me.”
Aalamri’s fluency in English was a major asset, as it enabled her to work with Al-Ghazzawi’s international clients. “I had quite an extensive education in English,” she says. “I was taught English at school, and had additional home tutoring. I also used to visit the States with my family quite a bit. My family understood the restraints people face in business and travel if they can’t speak English, so it was a must that I learn the language.”
Initially, Aalamri worked on company incorporation and trademarks. As time went on, she became involved in everything from environmental law to inheritance law, “whatever the clients needed.” She found herself particularly fascinated by financial law. “The Capital Market Authority, which regulates securities, the stock exchange, and investment funds, was coming out with all these new laws, and I wanted a better understanding of these regulations so that I could invest in myself, grow as a lawyer, and play a bigger role in the firm,” she says. “At that point women still weren’t permitted to have a license, but we could see the road taking us there. So I applied to the King Abdullah Scholarship program, and I was awarded a scholarship to study for my master’s degree in the States. BU Law’s Graduate Program in Banking and Financial Law (BFL) was just what I was looking for.”
Although it was her first time being away from home for such a long period, Aalamri adjusted easily to living in Boston. It took her a bit more time to get used to the academic demands. “It was quite a different level of legal studies to what I had experienced back home,” she says. “The BFL program was quite advanced, and I didn’t have much background in finance when it came to the practice. So, it was quite challenging in terms of the amount of reading I needed to do in order to catch up with the level of information that was being taught in the classes. But it was worth it. And I think that having practiced law at the firm enabled me to perform the way I did at BU Law. Being able to write in a very organized manner, to show the sequence of process and analysis, really helped, as did the pre-LL.M program at CELOP.”
After receiving her master’s, Aalamri was welcomed back to Al-Ghazzawi as an associate. “I’ve worked on mergers and acquisitions, dispute resolution, due diligences, notes of advice, and several matters related to foreign judgment enforcement and bankruptcy,” she says. “Most of my clients are corporate, so I generally work with their in-house counsel, who is usually a man. International clients find it completely normal to be dealing with a woman, but when I’ve attended meetings with some local companies, they looked surprised. They didn’t hesitate to ask me questions about my background and whether I was qualified as a lawyer. But it never got in the way of working together.”
Aalamri says that King Abdullah has issued many regulations that support women and give them more opportunities to work. Last year, 30 women were seated on the Shura Council, the country’s advisory board. Soon, she believes, female candidates will be eligible for the boards of municipal authority. “There are other things: it’s a small step, perhaps, but women are able to work as cashiers at grocery stores and different stores in the mall,” she says. “That affects society because it’s making everyone get used to seeing women everywhere. And that helps bring about change. Women are inspiring each other and, most importantly, we’re inspiring children. When they grow up seeing men and women working equally, the gender gap won’t exist for them. I think what King Abdullah is doing is not only great for women, but for this country.”
She realizes, though, that not everyone is ready to accept women in the business world, and that includes her chosen field. “There are still many law firms that are not prepared to have female lawyers,” she says, “which makes it harder for a woman to get a job. Finding the right opportunity is difficult.”
Whatever the future holds for her personally, Aalamri plans to continue working. “I enjoy it so much,” she says. “It’s part of being able to express yourself, challenge yourself, achieve something. It just adds to an individual’s life. I don’t think marriage should interfere with a woman’s career. A woman might have a bigger role in raising children, but if you prioritize, find the right balance, hopefully you can be a wife and mother and have a career.”
Despite the sound of it, Aalamri rejects the feminist label. “I don’t want to be categorized,” she says. “That’s even true of the field of practice that I chose. I didn’t want to restrict myself to handling matters for female clients only. I did my studies as well as anyone and received my license, so I could choose whichever field I wanted. I hope that I can give inspiration to other women to pursue their dreams. People can be very discouraging; they will tell you, ‘It won’t happen any time soon,’ or ‘It’s too difficult.’ That is what I heard about women getting licensed in Saudi Arabia. So I think of myself as an example of what can happen if you ignore those who try to discourage you. Just have faith in yourself.”
Reported by Sheryl Flatow
“A Bridge to Connect the World:” Yuiko Matsumura (LL.M. ’12, J.D. ‘14) learns the true meaning of “international” in pursuit of her dreams
When Yuiko Matsumura (LL.M. in American Law ’12, J.D. ‘14) was a seven-year-old child growing up in Tokyo, Japan, she once begged her mother to buy her a popular eraser “because everybody has one.” Her mother was unimpressed with this line of argument: “’Everybody?’ I don’t believe this word,” she said. “’Everybody’ is nobody. Name them one by one.”
Twenty years later, this memory still resonates with Yuiko. Now a BU Law 3L J.D. student participating in the School’s international dual degree program with the National University of Singapore (NUS), where she is enrolled in NUS’s LL.M. in Asian Legal Studies program, Yuiko is enmeshed in the various perspectives and opinions regarding Asia’s developing countries and in learning about the not-so-clear contours of international law.
“The more I study international law, the less confident I am there is as much ‘international’ consensus as we hope,” she says. “Who is setting the norms we call ‘international?’ ‘Everybody?’ Everybody is nobody,” she says, recalling her mother’s words. “Through my time in Singapore, I’ve learned to be careful to check who is behind the scenes in determining what is ‘international,’ because it helps me participate in and contribute to a happier ‘international’ society,” she explains.
Yuiko’s NUS studies have indeed fueled a new perspective on her future career as an international lawyer trained in the U.S. and Japanese legal systems. “Geographically and economically, Japan is between the U.S. and Asian countries,” she says. “By having mirrors from both sides to reflect myself and Japan, I have started to develop a clearer vision of how I would like to contribute to bridge the gap between them.”
From an early age, Yuiko dreamed of a career that enabled her to become “a bridge to connect the world,” she says. She became interested in law during high school, when she realized the extent to which “the law directly impacts all human activities.”
As an undergraduate at Chuo Law School in Tokyo, Yuiko pursued her interests in international business law and, in particular, intellectual property law. “I learned that the protection of IP rights is particularly important for Japan, a small country with few natural resources,” she explains.
After receiving her LL.B. degree from Chuo and passing Japan’s patent bar exam, Yuiko then set her sights on the U.S.—and BU Law—to deepen her understanding of intellectual property and international business.
“From the beginning, I was almost certain I would come to BU Law,” she says. "I had an instinct, and I thought BU was the best choice because no school has such a perfect combination of world-class IP teaching in such a lovely city.”
|Singapore at night|
She has trouble choosing among her favorite experiences from her time in Boston, but says “the most valuable experience has been meeting and knowing people from all over the world who form the close-knit BU community. These people include excellent professors who turn cases into colorful and memorable pictures in my mind, supporting staff who are happy to help whenever I am in need, and friends with whom I will keep in touch forever.”
After successfully completing the LL.M. program, Yuiko yearned for more. She decided to apply to the J.D. program as a transfer student—a “great decision,” she notes, which opened up to her the possibility of pursuing the dual degree with NUS. In the meantime, she also passed the New York bar.
“I realized I was not ready to make my dream come true, to become a bridge to connect the world. I thought my English, as well as my understanding of law and foreign cultures, had not reached the level to contribute what I wanted to international society,” she says.
Yuiko is confident that her NUS classes—which included World Trade Law, IP and International Trade, and Global Exploitation of IP—have directly prepared her for her career in international intellectual property law.
“I took World Trade Law, in particular, to establish a foundation for understanding the current international trade system under the WTO regime,” says Yuiko. “Although this class certainly earned its reputation as ‘the hardest class at NUS,’ I thoroughly enjoyed the coursework and believe I will use what I learned early on in my career.”
She cites learning about the Brazil-Retreaded Tyres case, which concerned a dispute between the European Union and Brazil over the exports of retreated tires from Europe. “This case taught me what ‘respect’ for different cultures means,” she notes. “It is to re-spect—to look back—when you see something different from your culture, using your imagination to figure out what makes the difference.”
With her four law degrees, fluency in three languages (English, Japanese and Chinese), NY bar license, and qualification as a Japanese patent lawyer, Yuiko is positioned to succeed in her new associate position with Hogan Lovells’ Tokyo office. Primarily focusing on international trademark law, she is well on her way to becoming the “bridge” to which she has always aspired.
Over two million Syrians have fled their home country since the civil war broke out in 2011. As a result, neighboring states have witnessed massive influxes of refugees; reports estimate that Lebanon’s population has increased by as much as 25%. In collaboration with the University of Oxford’s Refugee Studies Centre, BU Law’s International Human Rights Clinic conducted a two-year research project focusing on the legal issues and problems that are creating barriers to relief and protection for refugees fleeing Syria. The project culminated in clinical students’ taking trips to Turkey, Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan to assess conditions in these countries. Two students, Aaron Lang (’15) and Sarah Bidinger (’15), discuss their experiences.
Egypt – by Aaron Lang (’15)
Cairo is like nothing I’ve ever seen. The chaos of honking horns and squealing tires on every street—a result of the utter lack of traffic regulations—would make New York City seem like Zen paradise. After our last interviews at the American University in Cairo (AUC), the professors organized a short felucca boat picnic for our team and some AUC students on the Nile River. As soon as we set sail, the noise and anxiety of the city, to my great surprise, quickly melted away. The difference between Cairo in the city and Cairo from afar, to a great extent, parallels the clinic’s experiences with our Syria Project. Despite spending a year mapping international and domestic refugee law and policy in Egypt and the Middle East, what we learned when we arrived in Cairo was almost an entirely different story.
After the ousting of Mohamed Morsi, refugee policy in Egypt took a turn for the worse. The 2011 revolution had already created substantial obstacles for those seeking refuge in Egypt. However, Morsi’s administration was generally welcoming to Syrian refugees and permitted them broad access to public health services and education on an almost equal footing with Egyptians. At this time, Syrians did not fear detention or deportation.
With Morsi out of the picture, a vicious xenophobic media campaign began characterizing Syrians and other foreigners as dangerous supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood. Eventually, changes in visa requirements for Syrians occurred, and many refugees were detained for failing to register with the Egyptian government and trying to leave Egypt by boat to Italy. In detention, Syrians have been confined to cramped, dirty quarters inside municipal police stations. Policy changes in Egypt have been justified as “temporary emergency measures,” and have effectively closed off the borders to refugee populations.
In Cairo, we met with a group of attorneys from the Egyptian Foundation for Refugee Rights (EFRR) who represent many of the detainees. Since the media fiasco, the EFRR has been highly successful in winning both acquittals and orders of release for Syrians in detention. This success, however, has been curtailed by executive decisions of the Ministry of the Interior (MoI) to keep the refugees in detention for national security reasons.
The next day, we spoke with ambassadors at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). While the MFA works closely with the embassies of other countries concerning refugee issues, it does not manage border policy, refugee registration, or detention. The Ministry of the Interior, which does focus on those issues, unfortunately did not respond to our request for an interview. At our meeting with UNHCR’s Syria division, we discovered that UNHCR also has no access to the Ministry of the Interior, and many agencies have referred to the MoI as a black box when it comes to refugee policy.
Despite the many lamentable aspects of the refugee situation in Egypt, the goal of our project is not to criticize the front-line states. International agreements concerning refugees contemplate the idea of responsibility-sharing among states’ parties. In other words, a refugee crisis is not the problem of any individual country or region, but of the international community at large.
With the information we’ve gathered, the clinic hopes to publish a report and submit it to the UNHCR Executive Committee and other agencies in the United States and the EU. We are not asking for action against Egypt or any other country, but for additional resources and resettlement slots from other states. We hope our report, in conjunction with the work of other organizations, helps make the push to greater access for refugees to durable solutions. Egypt is a struggling country with limited resources to dedicate to this influx of around 300,000 refugees. Now, the International Human Rights Clinic hopes other countries, including the United States, will lend greater support.
Turkey – by Sarah Bidinger (’15)
I travelled to Turkey with Professor Susan Akram and Yoana Kuzmova (’14), another BU Law student. Members of the clinic are also travelling to Lebanon and Jordan. We are researching the legal frameworks behind various host states’ treatment of Syrian refugees, and gathering regional and international recommendations to improve the world’s response to this crisis.
The first stop on our trip to Turkey was Istanbul, a city that completely captivated me with its beauty. The buildings are tall and narrow; laundry waves in the breeze, high above your head. The skyline is dotted with curving mosques, and the streets are a flood of rogue taxis and colorful scarves. Old men sit at low cafe tables chain-smoking, drinking tea, and playing backgammon. Street musicians play haunting string melodies in harmonic minor. The markets provide layers of aromas and sounds; everywhere you turn there are fish, bags of figs and hazelnuts, and pomegranates displayed proudly in the street.
While in Istanbul, we met with representatives from Support to Life (STL) and the Helsinki Citizens Assembly (HCA), both non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working on various aspects of the Syrian refugee situation in Turkey. STL predominantly provides humanitarian aid to refugees who are living outside of the camps. Among other things, they have developed a food voucher program that allows refugees living in major cities to purchase food at local markets. STL also operates community centers to provide psycho-social support and education to displaced Syrians.
HCA is the only real legal actor among the NGOs serving refugees. HCA stays on top of Turkey’s ever-changing government policies towards Syrians, and shares this information with Syrians to enable them to advocate for their legal rights. HCA provides direct legal aid to Syrians who are attempting to leave Turkey. Currently, Syrians are best able to leave Turkey for the European Union through a process called family reunification: with the assistance of HCA, Syrians with family members in European countries are able to apply for a visa, permitting them to stay with these relatives. HCA also advocates for changes in government policies to effectively address the needs of Syrians in Turkey.
We then traveled by bus through the moonlit countryside to Ankara, the capital city. While there, we met with government officials from AFAD (the government agency responsible for disaster and emergency management in Turkey, which has largely handled the Syrian refugee situation) and representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We rounded out the visit with a meeting at the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
|Prof. Akram, Sarah Bidinger, and Yoana Kuzmova take a break in a Turkish confectionary(photo courtesy of Kuzmova)|
While in Ankara, we learned much about Turkey’s official policies towards the Syrians. Turkey has an open-border policy, and Syrians may freely cross the border into Turkey. Syrians are provided with basic needs while in Turkey: the government has built 20 refugee camps and plans to build more. These camps provide residents with shelter, clean water, food, health care, and even laundry access. Unfortunately, camps are at capacity, and Turkey is running out of flat, vacant land spaces that can be connected to the existing water and electric systems—this sort of space is necessary to build more camps.
While Syrians are able to register for “Temporary Protection” and legally live outside of the refugee camps, these Syrians receive only health care from the government, and must rely on NGOs for aid when their own savings run out. Housing in the cities is running short and becoming increasingly more expensive. We heard many corroborating reports that refugees are living in parks in major cities like Istanbul, even during the cold winter months.
Additionally, the Turkish government does not consider Syrians to be refugees. Rather, they call Syrians “guests”; as such, Syrians do not have any significant legal status in Turkey, and are unable to work, are ineligible to be resettled to other countries through refugee resettlement programs, and cannot attend Turkish schools. We heard from NGOs that there is a rising resentment against Syrians as the cost of their support rises.
We came away from these meetings with much to ponder. In some senses, Turkey is an absolutely incredible example for countries dealing with a refugee crisis: Turkey has been nothing but welcoming in allowing Syrians open access to cross the border into Turkey and providing refugees with life’s basic needs. However, it has become clear that the situation in Syria will not end any time soon. As long as Turkey continues to recognize Syrians only as guests, Syrians are placed in an impossible position.
One of my greatest concerns is that an entire generation of Syrians may fall by the wayside. The longer the conflict continues, and the longer Syrians go without access to meaningful work and formalized education, the harder it will be for Syria to built itself back up when the conflict ends, as Syria’s problems will be much deeper than a physically broken infrastructure. We have much work to do to if we are to help the region effectively manage this situation, but our research team is certainly up to the task.
Foreign-trained attorneys are increasingly called upon to handle the complex demands of their global clients—clients whose cross-border interests implicate U.S. law. To serve their clients or advise their companies, they must not only understand the substance of U.S. law, they must also work effectively with their U.S.-trained counterparts. They must understand U.S. legal culture and how U.S. counsel are trained to "think," and they must possess highly polished legal English skills that allow them to communicate effectively, in writing and verbally. While mastering the skills necessary for a successful career in international law has long been the goal of many of BU Law’s LL.M. in American Law students, an increasing number of foreign-trained tax practitioners with this goal are now enrolling in our Graduate Tax Program (GTP).
The current GTP student body (comprised of full-time residential, part-time residential and online students) is the most diverse class in the program’s history: over 140 students are currently enrolled, representing 16 countries. The average GTP student is 36 years old, and 23% of students hold an advanced degree, in addition to the J.D. or its equivalent.
While the GTP’s new online option makes the program accessible to students worldwide, with no need to attend classes in Boston, the greatest increase in foreign students has occurred in the law tower, through the full-time residential option, whose student body is now 21% foreign-trained, up from previous years when it was 10% or less.
Robert Graafland, from the Netherlands, is just one of the international students studying advanced tax law through the residential program option. Born in Gouda, “the cheese capital of the Netherlands,” Robert joined the GTP after receiving his LL.B. from Leiden University in 2013, where he also participated in the Honors College Law. In his final year at Leiden, he focused on the corporate tax transparency and fairness debate, a subject he continued to research at BU Law. Outside of tax law, he has an interest in crypto-currencies, guitars and programming. Rob is fluent in Dutch and English and proficient in German and Spanish.
Q: What interests you about international tax law?
A: I find joy in searching for the fair path through the gray area between the Internal Revenue Code and the taxpayer’s wishes. Practicing taxation on an international level increases the complexity of the puzzle by adding treaties and tax law asymmetries.
Q: Why did you decide to study this subject in the U.S.?
A: I have always enjoyed adventure and, while growing up, discovered that in our “global village,” international law is increasingly important, at least until countries start giving up their sovereignty (a situation I do not foresee in the near future). My main reason for pursuing an LL.M. was to learn more about international taxation from a U.S. perspective and, with that, become employable in the United States. Additionally, while on exchange in the U.S. a few years ago, I met this wonderful girl, whom I may now call my fiancée.
Q: Why did you decide to study at BU Law specifically?
A: There are many reasons why I chose to study at BU Law—for example the revered professors, the School’s ranking, and the location in Boston and the New England area. But my main reason was that, to my knowledge, the BU GTP offers the most taxation courses of any program in the U.S. and works constantly to adapt to the industry’s needs, offering unique courses like Tax & Technology and FAS 109, FIN 48, SOX 404. This connection with the industry is also apparent in the number of professors working in firms, practicing what they teach.
Q: Has BU Law met your expectations as a place to study tax law?
A: The GTP is a great program for anyone aiming to learn and improve his or her international tax knowledge. The quality of the courses, professors and LL.M. Office of Professional Development are excellent, and the faculty and the GTP staff show a genuine interest in their students. I really like that the GTP consists of an eclectic mix of American and international students working toward a common goal: a better understanding of U.S. and international taxation.
Q: What do you think of the city of Boston, as both a student of the law and a young professional?
A: Boston is an old, academic city filled with young and dynamic people. The last few months I have been reading about John Adams and the history around the Declaration of Independence—intriguing material to read while living in one of the cities that played such a significant role in declaring these self-evident facts of natural law.
Q: What are your ultimate professional goals?
A: It is a bit of a cliché, but nevertheless a truism, that we spend over 50 percent of our waking hours at work. So my ultimate professional goal is to be satisfied with my work. For now my professional goals are to grow my knowledge of international taxation, have enjoyable relationships with colleagues, and work hard to work my way up. The best way to achieve my goals seems to be to work in the international tax department of an accounting firm.
BU School of Law and HEC Paris launch student exchange program to train global leaders in law and business
Boston University School of Law and École des Hautes Études Commerciales in Paris, France (HEC Paris) have agreed to launch a student exchange program—the first of its kind between an American law school and a top-tier international school of management—that will prepare students for leadership roles in the global economy.
"Employers seek law graduates who understand how businesses operate," says BU Law Dean Maureen A. O'Rourke, "and business today is global. Our partnership with HEC adds a valuable, international dimension to our already impressive portfolio of business-skills-training opportunities for J.D. students."
Beginning in fall 2014, BU Law second- and third-year students can spend a semester in HEC Paris's Master in Management (MIM) Grande École program, a highly selective management program designed to train students for executive-level positions in global organizations. HEC students who hold a first degree in law in France can take courses in BU Law's J.D. curriculum or its graduate programs in taxation or banking & financial law.
"This collaboration presents an extraordinary opportunity for our law students to develop business skills and learn to think like clients, while attending one of the world's premier global business schools," says John Riccardi, BU Law's assistant dean for graduate and international programs. Studying alongside business students from 100 countries, BU Law students will take core and specialized classes covering a range of management topics, such as managerial economics, innovation and entrepreneurship, and global risk regulation, all taught in English.
"We are thrilled to partner with BU Law," says Eloἲc-Anil Peyrache, associate dean and director of the MIM program. "This collaboration will enable our MIM students with legal backgrounds to learn about U.S. law and broaden their skills as global business lawyers."
HEC Paris, founded in 1881 as one of France's elite Grande Écoles, has consistently topped the Financial Times' European business school rankings since 2006. It is the first business school in France to have received the prestigious Triple Crown Academic accreditation (AMBA, EQUIS, AACSB). In addition to its MIM program, HEC Paris offers an MBA, Ph.D., several graduate programs, and executive education programs ranked #1 in the world by the Financial Times.
|Assistant Dean John Riccardi with TA Cesar Lopez Morales (J.D. '14)|
BU Law’s Teaching Assistant Program, developed in 2012 to address the unique needs of BU Law’s international LL.M. students enrolled in J.D. classes, has established itself as an important resource for the school’s foreign LL.M. and exchange students, as well as a valuable experience for the upper-class J.D. teaching assistants.
The program’s format—weekly optional review and discussion sessions for classes with 10 or more LL.M. students, led by upper-class J.D.s—offers an effective platform for raising questions about case law pedagogy as well as the substantive doctrines at issue. It also gives J.D. students teaching experience.
“I really enjoyed being a contracts teaching assistant for LL.M. and exchange students,” says Cesar Lopez Morales (J.D. ’14), who served as TA for Professor Mark Pettit’s first-year Contracts class. “The students were really committed to learning the material, and they were always engaged in discussing the cases. We often discussed how common law principles in the law of contracts compared to similar concepts in civil law systems. It was a truly enriching learning experience for me.”
And for the LL.M. students who attended Cesar’s sessions, the experience was equally rewarding. “Cesar provided us great support to help us adapt to the American teaching style and the case law method. He also shared very resourceful strategies to use during exams and taught us how to structure solid answers in relation to case law analysis,” says Jorge Fernandez Palacios (LL.M. in American Law ’14) from Mexico. “The TA program definitely helps us to adapt better to each course, as it allows LL.M. students to receive additional insight on any concepts that were not immediately clear during class.”
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor David Walker spearheaded the initiative and is thrilled by its continued success. “It quickly became clear that this is a win-win for all,” he says. “The LL.M. students benefit; the teaching assistants gain valuable instructional experience; and our faculty are better able to monitor how the LL.M. students are progressing in their understanding of the materials.”
|Lyra Haas (J.D. '14) and Mayra Jacobo Troncoso (LL.M. in American Law '14) partcipated in this year's Teaching Assistant Program as tutor and pupil, respectively|
Lyra Haas (J.D. ’14), who served as a teaching assistant for both Professors Maria Hylton and Andrew Kull, appreciates the added networking experience TAs gain from participating. “J.D. students don't always have as many opportunities to interact with the LL.M.s as we would like, and this gave me the chance to get to know some of our wonderful international students much better,” says Haas. “The LL.M. students were so open and very willing to compare the legal experiences and backgrounds among a variety of countries. I'm incredibly grateful for everything they have shared with me.”
Likewise, Mayra C. Jacobo Troncoso (LL.M. in American Law ’14), who hails from the Dominican Republic, found Lyra to be an invaluable part of her academic experience. “Lyra was an amazing tutor. She was always available to help us better understand the methods used by our professor, and to help us with our outlines and with briefing cases.”
“For years, LL.M. in American Law alumni have told me that their year at BU Law was the best year of their lives, and that they formed bonds with American and fellow international students that have lasted for years after graduating from the program,” says Assistant Dean John Riccardi. “The TA program, in addition to providing our LL.M. students with another valuable academic resource, has given J.D. students more opportunities to create these bonds. I could not be more pleased with the program’s success.”
In addition to the Teaching Assistant Program, which will continue into the 2014-2015 academic year, LL.M. students have access to J.D. tutors in their fall semester Legal Research and Writing Seminar and, in the spring, a professional legal writing coach to help them structure and polish academic writings, such as seminar papers or independent studies.
|Kevin Saunders, (J.D. '07), deputy general counsel at ACCION International, discusses his international law career with Zainab Ali (LL.M. in American Law '14) at a networking event in March|
BU Law students hail from around the world and, upon graduation, pursue careers on an equally global scale. In order to aid them in the job search process, the LL.M. Office of Professional Development and BU Law’s Career Development Office (CDO) host myriad events throughout the academic year—from skills workshops to networking panels—to advise students and help jumpstart their international professional networks.
Many alumni practicing internationally participate in these events, offering valuable career advice and mentorship. “Our international alumni regularly come back to campus when traveling in the states on business,” says Sara Marshall, assistant director for LL.M. professional development. Their commitment to helping current BU Law students speaks to the strength of the international BU Law alumni network, and their willingness to share information and contacts greatly contributes to each event’s success. “Our LL.M. and J.D. students have found our international programming extremely valuable in helping them prepare for cross-border careers,” Marshall adds.
A sampling of the year’s international career development events follows.
Networking Tips from a Recruiting Expert
September 19, 2013
Elizabeth Smith, Esq., an expert in the recruiting field, gave a valuable presentation to LL.M. students, providing networking and interviewing tips for a successful job search in the U.S. Ms. Smith is managing director at Major, Lindsey & Africa, the world’s leading legal search firm.
Q&A with IP Professional Sara Burghart (LL.M. in American Law ’09)
September 20, 2013
An intellectual property attorney in the Munich office of Taylor Wessing, a leading international law firm, Sara Burghart (LL.M. in American Law ’09) spoke with current students about her IP practice in the European Union, the New York Bar exam, and career paths in IP law.
Chinese Business Lawyers Association: Meeting with Chinese partner with U.S. law practice
October 7, 2013
Coordinated with the help of Jieling Guan (LL.M. Banking and Financial Law ’13), this event allowed current LL.M. students to meet with Alex Yong Hao, a partner at Jun He Law Office in New York, to discuss various international business law topics. Mr. Hao shared his experience and observations and spoke about the challenges young international lawyers face at the start of their careers.
|Adejumoke Ajala (LL.M. Banking & Financial Law '08) speaks at a career panel on cross-border practice|
Seminar on U.S./International Legal Careers
October 9, 2013
The International Bar Association’s Law Firm Management Committee visited BU Law to co-host a panel discussion with lawyers from U.S. and international law firms. The attorneys presented case studies of real-life law firm assignments and discussed how they approach their work, in addition to offering tips on succeeding as an international associate.
LL.M. Alumni Career Panel on Cross-Border and U.S. Law Practice
October 10, 2013
Graduate program alumni from across the globe—including Italy, India, Nigeria, Russia, China, Brazil and the U.S.—shared experiences in the LL.M. program and discussed their international law practices. They offered current students suggestions on how to make the most of their year at BU Law, while offering strategies on how to gain practical experience in the U.S.
U.S. Visa Options for LL.M. Graduates
October 28, 2013
Douglas Hauer (J.D. '01, LL.M. '14), an immigration law expert, spoke with current students about their post-graduation immigration options at this informal, round-table discussion. Mr. Hauer is a partner in Mintz Levin’s Boston office, where his practice focuses on business immigration law, related government investigations, family-based green card sponsorship processes, EB-5 investor visa filings, and corporate immigration policy development.
Massachusetts Bar Exam Information Session for Foreign Lawyers
December 2, 2013
The executive director of the Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners, Marilyn Wellington, delivered a detailed presentation and answered questions about the MA bar exam for international students.
Interviewing and Job Search Advice from Former In-house Counsel at State Street Corporation
January 16, 2014
At this event, Johanna Harris, Esq., CEO of Hire Fire and Retire LLC, visited the law school to discuss strategies on networking, interviewing, and getting (and keeping) the job you want. Ms. Harris recently published USE PROTECTION: An Employee's Guide to Advancement in the Workplace, which reflects Ms. Harris' effective mix of astute legal judgment, strategic thinking and common sense.
|Yanhong Feng (LL.M. in American Law '14) with Richard Sinnott, Boston lawyer and U.S. Army Reserve Judge Advocate at a March networking event|
Careers in International Organizations
January 29, 2014
DC-area alumni and students working in the capital were invited to this event, sponsored by the American Society of International Law’s New Professionals Interest Group, in which panelists offered insight on the creation of international law through the convergence of national interests, personal dynamics, global realities, and constantly evolving norms. Specifically they addressed how lawyers at international organizations play a role and how they can advance their careers in this arena. Panelists included:
- Leslie Vélez, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
- Grace Menck, Inter-American Development Bank
- Heidi Jimenez, Pan-American Health Organization
- Steve Koh, ASIL and former attorney at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and International Criminal Court
Pathways to Employment in the U.S.
March 3, 2014
Douglas Hauer (J.D. '01, LL.M. '14) and Robin O’Donoghue (J.D. '91), two practicing attorneys and experts in immigration law, addressed strategies to position and market oneself favorably to U.S. employers with the goal of securing access to employment in the U.S. despite challenging market conditions.
Meeting with Alumna Associate at Baker & McKenzie in Paris
March 6, 2014
Camille Mondoloni (LL.M. in American Law ’10), an associate at Baker & McKenzie in Paris, spoke with students about the New York bar exam; her internships in French, U.K. and U.S. law firms; and her current role. She offered practical advice and insight from her time as a student at BU Law and as an accomplished attorney.
Preparing for Your International Law Career with D. Wes Rist of ASIL
March 19, 2014
Wes Rist, the director of education and research at the American Society of International Law, discussed the steps that students can take while still in law school to help themselves stand out in the search for an international law position. Topics covered included targeted job searching, resume drafting, managing one’s professional contacts, identifying appropriate international experiences, pursuing valuable volunteer and professional membership opportunities, and other practical issues that students can pursue immediately.
|ALP students participating the speed networking event|
American Society of International Law Speed Mentoring Event
March 20, 2014
The American Society of International Law (ASIL), in co-sponsorship with BU Law, hosted a unique forum that exposed law students and new legal professionals to experienced international practitioners. After a group discussion detailing each of the panelists’ career paths, students rotated in brief intervals between tables, each hosted by one panelist, to ask more in-depth questions. A networking reception followed. Participating panelists included:
- Aloke Chakravarty, Assistant U.S. Attorney, Anti-Terrorism & National Security Unit
- Elizabeth Holland, Associate, Foley Hoag LLP
- Lisa Laplante, Professor, New England School of Law, founder and former deputy director, Praxis Institute for Social Justice
- Kevin Saunders (J.D. '07), Deputy General Counsel, ACCION
- Marie Sheldon, Senior Acquisitions Editor for Int’l Law and Int’l Relations, Brill Publishing
- Lt. Col. Richard Sinnott, Defense Institute for International Legal Studies, U.S.
In addition to programming designed to assist students in their international career searches, the LL.M. Office of Professional Development also orchestrates a Discovery Series each spring, designed to introduce international LL.M. students to a range of U.S. legal practice settings. The spring 2014 Discovery Series began with a visit to ARIAD Pharmaceuticals, Inc., in Cambridge, MA, where Kanchan Ketkar (LL.M. in American Law ’01), now serves as assistant general counsel.
For the second event, students traveled to the downtown offices of Sally & Fitch, one of Boston’s top litigation boutiques, where partner Kurt Kusiak (J.D. ’91) gave students practical advice and tips on what to consider when retaining U.S. litigation counsel. Kurt’s talk was specifically designed to educate in-house foreign counsel and foreign attorneys on how to engage U.S. lawyers if their company or client face potential litigation in the U.S.
The discovery series ended with a visit to the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts to meet with Judge William E. Young. This was an extremely valuable opportunity for students to observe a federal court hearing and meet with the a highly experienced and respected federal judge.
Our current cohort of LL.M. students is diverse by every measure. As of spring 2014, 325 students enrolled in our five graduate programs range in age from 20 to 72 years old, and they come to BU Law with a wide range of backgrounds from over 50 different countries. Below, please find a brief snapshot of this unique and accomplished group of students.
As a hub for global engagement, BU Law hosts myriad conferences, symposia and lectures pertaining to international law each year—many of which are featured in this newsletter. Click the title of each event listed below to learn of additional scholarly happenings taking place in the law tower in 2013-14.
International Bar Association Annual Conference
The International Bar Association held its annual conference at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston. The week-long event brought together 5,500 delegates from 134 countries—including BU Law alumni and faculty—to discuss the most pressing legal issues facing today’s international legal community. BU Law was one of the conference’s official sponsors, and Professor William “Rusty” Park served as a distinguished panelist. Throughout the week, BU Law held myriad events both on- and off-campus, allowing students, faculty, staff and alumni from across the globe to connect.
Universal Health Care Reform in Turkey: Overcoming Legal and Political Barriers
October 22, 2013
BU School of Law hosted Turkish Member of Parliament and former Minister of Health Prof. Recep Akdağ, who discussed the implementation of his ground-breaking health care reform in Turkey. The program was organized by Sena Celik Burak (LL.M. '14) and her husband Dr. Furkan Burak in collaboration with the BU Health Law Association.
Freedom of the Press: Comparative International Perspectives
November 18, 2013
In celebration of Boston University’s International Education Week, the Office of Graduate and International Programs hosted a panel presentation centered on global freedom of the press issues. LL.M. students discussed pressing censorship issues in their home countries and the accompanying political ramifications. Moderated by Professor Pnina Lahav, the panel included:
- Pablo Acevedo (LL.M. in American Law '14) from Chile
- Sena Burak (LL.M. in American Law '14) from Turkey
- Eugénie Christophe (LL.M. in Intellectual Property '14) from France
- Zhaokun (Jennifer) Duan (LL.M. in American Law '14) from the P.R. China.
Professor Lahav guided and challenged the panelists to consider the comparative aspects of these issues and how they compare to the United States’ constitutional law and First Amendment jurisprudence.
The Euro Crisis: Regulatory Responses, Social Consequences, and Legal Strategies
January 17, 2014
The Boston University School of Law International Law Journal and the Hellenic Bar Association of Massachusetts co-hosted this conference to examine the so-called "Euro Crisis" through two expert panels. This event laid out for discussion the regulatory and investment-climate outcomes of the Greek debt crisis, identifying opportunities for legal strategies concerning both private investment and systemic regulation in Greece and at the EU level.
LL.M. in American Law Program Spring Colloquium Series
February 14, 2014
Each spring, LL.M. in American Law students attend a graduate colloquium, “Topics in American Law,” which consists of a series of faculty presentations and informal discussions on timely legal topics that are the subject of faculty research and scholarship. The colloquium is intended to create a forum for students to meet and learn from faculty outside the classroom, and to explore important issues from a comparative perspective.
This year, our colloquium series featured the following:
Dennis Campbell, the executive director of the Center for International Legal Studies in Saltzburg, Austria, gave a talk on the decades-long environmental dispute between Ecuadorean villagers and the Chevron Corp. The presentation used the ongoing, high-profile conflict to examine the Alien Tort Claims Act, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, the impact of bilateral investment treaties, and tactics employed in pursuit of and defense against the recognition and enforcement of a foreign judgment. In spring 2015, Professor Campbell will teach a one-credit class for LL.M. students on these topics through the lens of the Chevron case.
Robert Volk (J.D. '78), associate professor of legal writing, gave a presentation on the history and current state of the law regarding sexual minorities in the U.S., with particular attention on the contentious, front-page topic of same-sex marriage. Professor Volk, who teaches a J.D. seminar on this topic, has taught in BU Law’s Summer Legal Institute over the years.
To end the series, Professor of Law Daniela Caruso delivered a presentation on “Hot Topics in International Trade.” She used the recent WTO ruling against China’s imposition of export restrictions on certain “rare earth” materials, which are used in a range of high-technology products, as a case study to explore the complex issues inherent in global trade disputes. Professor Caruso teaches a seminar in International Trade Regulations and first-year Contracts.
Workshop on American Business Law
The School of Law was pleased to once again host a group of 18 Chinese law students and academics in February 2014, through a 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. The students attended the LL.M. Colloquium presentation by Professor Dennis Campbell as well as a talk by Assistant Dean John Riccardi on U.S. legal education.
Visit from Law Professors from University of Jordan
April 9, 2014
A group of law professors from Jordan chose to spend the day at BU Law during their tour of a handful of New England institutions as part of a USAID-funded project on legal education in order to study curriculum development, interactive teaching, and clinical education in U.S. law schools. They met with professors and students to discuss their experiences and watch experiential learning and interactive teaching methods in action.