LL.M. students bring broad range of legal experiences to Penn State
August 22, 2011
Penn State Law trains international lawyers for the global marketplace. For forty-two years, LL.M students from around the world have come to the Law School to advance their careers by studying with our distinguished faculty. What was first called a master’s of comparative law degree, the master of laws program is a 24-credit, one academic year open to individuals who hold a degree in law from an accredited institution outside of the United States. This year’s LL.M. class has students from Asia, Europe, and South America with a broad range of legal and life experiences. Here are profiles of five of them:
Rodrigo Alas was working as in-house counsel for AES Corporation in El Salvador when he wanted to further his career and stand out from other lawyers. A graduate of Escuela Superior de Economia y Negocios (i.e. the School of Business and Economics) in El Salvador, Alas completed his legal training in 2007 and worked as a law clerk for the First Penitentiary Court of San Salvador.
Binns considered many options when he looked for an LL.M. program. His criteria included a university with a known name, in the Eastern U.S., affordable, and with a strong focus on M&As. Though he envisions his next year as being very demanding, especially because he is planning to take the New York bar exam next summer, he also believes he can find balance at Penn State with sports and extracurricular activities like taekwondo and mountain biking.
He said he was impressed with the infrastructure at the brand-new law school building. “In fact I called my parents to tell them about it—five high definition screens in a typical classroom. This is probably the most technologically advanced law school in the country.” An additional benefit he mentioned is the vast alumni network, “No matter where you are in the world, you don’t have to go far to find a proud Penn State graduate.”
Volkova is especially interested in alternative dispute resolution. “Nowadays, the feature of economically and politically developed country is availability of a wide range of alternative dispute resolution options. In the United States, the alternative justice has been available since mid 60s, while in Russia it is an innovation. New knowledge will let me search for the best ways of the effective implementation of ADR advantages in my country and region,” Volkova said.
Volkova described Penn State Law as “the perfect placement because it corresponds to my interests and it’s a highly reputable university. I know that you have many distinguished professors in many legal fields. I am going to take U.S. Law of Arbitration with Professor Carbonneau and a course on International Law with Russian legal expert Professor William Butler,” she said.
When she returns to Russia, Volkova plans to work at a law firm in the field of dispute resolution. “Intensive economic development and increasing number of interstate commercial relations require effective legal regulation of possible misunderstanding between partners. Therefore, the main goal of Russian lawyers is creating well-functioning and available system of conflict management. Alternative dispute resolution models that are widely used in the United States can be an excellent example for Russian practitioners. I will do my best to extract all useful outputs that can be beneficial to the development of my country, community, and region.”
After earning his LL.M. degree from Hebei University in China and passing the Chinese bar exam, Baobin Wei worked in a Chinese investment company as in-house counsel. He then became a practice lawyer and joined Mornfield Law Firm in Beijing where he has remained for the past five year handling corporate law and commercial arbitration cases.
“In representing my clients, I often times need to know something about the American legal system, so I joined the LL.M. program at Penn State Law in order to gain more knowledge in special fields like American corporations and international business transactions,” Wei said. “I will use what I learn in America in my legal practice in China. For example, I handled a commercial arbitration between a Chinese company and an American company last year. I represented the Chinese company and finally won the arbitration. By this experience, I realized that it is undoubtedly necessary to study the American laws systematically and know the difference between Chinese laws and American laws.”
After deferring admission for a year, Wei decided to pursue his master’s of law degree at Penn State noting three factors that were instrumental in his decision – the faculty, the location, and the course arrangement. “I learned about the safe, livable environment of the Penn State community from my best friend, Chen Yang Xie, who graduated from the LL.M. program in 2009. The faculty is very impressive. Everyone was very nice in reaching out to me, so I thought it was my best choice.”
While Wei said he plans to visit Philadelphia, New York, and DC during his time in the U.S., he has been busy getting a jump on his studies by participating in the Summer Institute in Legal English Communication. “The English communications course is very helpful especially to Asian students who don’t usually have as good as English skills as European students,” Wei said.
“After earning my LL.M. degree from Penn State law, I’d like to go back to China to my legal practice. With the increasingly fast development of economy in China, I am sure there will be a large legal service market there. More and more business transactions and related disputes will arise. China needs the experienced practitioner who knows both Chinese and American laws.”