A Different World of Transaction Law

Jeannetta Craigwell-Graham (’09) discusses her work with the Rwanda Development Board

In early 2012, Jeannetta Craigwell-Graham (’09) took a one-month pro bono trip to do criminal law work in Arusha, Tanzania. Her firm, Shearman & Sterling, then allowed her to extend the trip for an additional month. She now has extended her trip again: Craigwell-Graham currently lives in Kigali and works for the Rwanda Development Board as a transaction adviser.  

Craigwell-Grham

“There have been a number of people that have tried to keep track of my movements. … I’ve always been open to moving to other places and having different experiences,” Craigwell-Graham says.

Her work as part of the Rwanda Development Board means working with ministries of the Rwandan government on developing strategic investments. Her day is also about finding a place for the Rwanda Development Board in the government and coordinating with other institutions.

“Typically, my day is a combination of meeting with other government industries we are negotiating on behalf of for other transactions,” Craigwell-Graham says. “Then I’ll come back and either answer e-mails and actually draft agreements for certain transactions, like the power purchase agreement for this hydropower deal I’m working on.”

She also works with a lawyer in Rwanda so she may step up and take her place one day. "Part of my day is building up that relationship and building her capacity,” Craigwell-Graham says.

During her time at BU Law, Craigwell-Graham was noted as saying she wanted to have “at least seven careers” in an online feature about her life as a law student.

Craigwell-Graham

“This is definitely one of them: a development professional, an activist, an associate in a law firm,” Craigwell-Graham says. “I’m just the kind of person where I’m interested in everything. ... I’m super-happy that it has come to fruition.”

Craigwell-Graham noted she was out to dinner with a colleague from Shearman & Sterling when she heard about this position. She says being vocal about what one wants can help advance his or her career.

“Being very vocal means two things: being very good at self-promotion … and also not being afraid to express what you want to anyone who may be interested in listening to you,” Craigwell-Graham says.

By working in a different country, Craigwell-Graham also sees how the workplace culture is different from that of the U.S. In addition to waking up very early for work, the workplace culture in Rawanda is more relationship-based.

“In order to get a lot of things done, you can’t just storm into someone’s office and be like ‘Can you give me this information regarding x or y?’ or ‘Send an e-mail to this person,’” Craigwell-Graham says. “You have to greet people, ask them how their day is. Depending on how well you know them, you might talk to them more, and then you would maybe talk and ask for the thing you might need from them. That is not how we function in a New York law office.”

After her time with the Rwanda Development Board, Craigwell-Graham thinks she won't be ready to leave just yet. She is interested in pursuing other opportunities in Africa in the development field.

Reported by Elyssa Sternberg
December 5, 2012

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