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Miami Law Around the World: Connections in Europe

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Students and faculty at Leipzig, Germany

Students and faculty at Leipzig, Germany (Photo: Miami Law) See Full Photo

First in a 4-part series.

Beyond its regional influence, the University of Miami School of Law has truly global reach and impact. It not only enjoys the inspiration of an international cadre of professors and students who bring their expertise, culture, and language to the Coral Gables campus, but it also leaves its continuing imprint upon the world through scores of transnational legal programs and a worldwide network of graduates and scholars.

Its alumni work in law firms, corporations, governments, and universities in more than 90 countries, on every continent except Antarctica. They include ambassadors, a prime minister, deans of some of the most prestigious law schools, and counsel at leading legal enterprises, corporations, and the United Nations. Its professors participate in exchange programs and as experts and consultants in Europe, South America, and Asia; and have been called upon to advise leaders, settle international disputes, and negotiate tax and other treaties between the United States and 43 countries. Its students learn about differences in culture and differences in the law, in international exchange programs in Belgium, Brazil, China, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Spain, and Switzerland—with more on the way. LawWithoutWalls (LWOW) connects Miami Law with colleges in 12 countries, on five continents, and across 19 time-zones. International externships, International Moot Court, and HOPE fellowships give students hands-on and, often, eye-opening experience in all corners of the globe.

It is impossible in this short space to profile every one of the 87 alumni in Germany, the 48 in Thailand, the 27 in Brazil, the 12 in Libya, or the hundreds of others working and making a difference across the planet. It is just as hard to give an inclusive accounting of all of the law school's international educational opportunities, or to list every one of the multinational endeavors its faculty takes part in.

But join us as we take a globe-hopping overview of the University of Miami School of Law's connections across the continents:

Europe:

The first Europeans opened a trade route with Florida 500 years ago. Today, the University of Miami School of Law continues the connection.

"Miami changed me," said Olga Rubel, LL.M. '11 , who was born and raised in the Ukraine and came to Miami Law on a Fulbright Scholarship. "Miami is at the center between Latin America, Europe, and the Caribbean. The interaction with different cultures was a good idea for me."

Her fellow Ukrainian Kristina Klykova made the leap from student to Visiting Assistant Professor (VAP) after completing her Master of Laws degree. Klykova began teaching a new course on the European Union and NAFTA in the fall of 2013.

"One of the reasons that I really wanted to come to Miami Law was the unique opportunity to teach," she said. "I wanted to develop a course that really benefited the University by opening the door to educate lawyers who may specialize in this field, as well as help promote UM in a new area."

Previous VAP selectees include Germans Sandra Friedrich and Stefanie Kürpick, Cuban lawyer Joan Martinez Evora, and Colombian Paula Arias, who now directs Miami Law's International Moot Court Program. Another VAP, Icelandic lawyer Helga Kristin Audunsdottir, who came to Miami Law on a Cobb Family Fellowship, now heads the law department at the Bifröst University in Reykjavík.

Several Miami Law faculty members also share deep and distinctive connections with Europe.

Visiting Professor Pablo M. Bentes, Director of International Trade & Investment at Steptoe & Johnson's D.C. office, spent six years as a legal officer in the Appellate Body Secretariat of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva. In fall 2013, Bentes, LL.M. '03, began teaching a course on WTO Dispute Settlement.

Professor Jan Paulsson, the Michael Klein Distinguished Chair, has served as counsel or arbitrator in over 500 arbitrations in Europe, Asia, the United States, and Africa, and currently serves as president of both the London Court of International Arbitration and the World Bank Administrative Tribunal.

In 2011, Professor Paulsson and Visiting Professor Albert Jan van den Berg, Professor of Law at Erasmus University in Rotterdam and a partner in Hanotiau & van den Berg in Brussels, was ranked as one of the world's top arbitrators in the International Who's Who of Commercial Arbitration.

Associate Professor Markus Wagner brings a world of experience to Miami Law—literally. A graduate of the University of Giessen Law School in Germany, Wagner was a visiting fellow in Vancouver, Canada, earned a J.S.M. at Stanford, and is studying for his doctorate in international economic law at Maastricht University in the Netherlands. From 2002 to 2005, he worked at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law in Heidelberg, Germany. He has also been a law clerk in the Supreme Court of Israel, a legal consultant in Brussels, a visiting professor in Colombia, Australia, and at the University of Leipzig in Germany.

He is not the only one with a connection to Leipzig. Professors Richard Williamson and David Abraham began the Leipzig-Miami Seminar, dedicated to increasing U.S.-German friendship and scholarly exchange in 2001. The program brings students and teachers from both universities together in Miami in January and in Leipzig in May.

"Take two dozen law students and half a dozen law professors," Professor Abraham said, "have them exchange and debate often-controversial laws and practices day and night for the better part of a week—without sleep—twice a year, supply ample food and beverage, opera, basketball, BMWs and alligators, and you have a sure-fire recipe for engagement, learning, and fun."

At the end of 2012, the School of Law of the University of Leipzig recognized Professor Williamson's efforts with an Honorary Doctorate.

Alumni also are taking Miami Law's teachings into European universities. Professor Doris König, LL.M. '82, became president of Bucerius Law School in Hamburg, Germany, in 2012. And Fulbright Scholar Maud Piers, LL.M. '02, now teaches at the University of Ghent in Belgium.

The successes of the School of Law's alumni reach beyond academia. Bjarni Benediktsson, LL.M. '97, became Iceland's Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs in May 2013. Fellow Icelander Iris Hreinsdottir, LL.M. '13, took a position with the prestigious Iceland Arion Bank. Her classmate Nikolaos Tsolakidis, a German Fulbright Scholar, accepted a position with the Americas Disputes Section of White & Case's D.C. office.

No matter where they come from, future graduates have the opportunity to forge valuable links to Europe while they're at Miami Law.

This year, the school's list of exchange programs added ESADE (Escuela Superior de Administración y Dirección de Empresas) in Barcelona, Spain, and Université Cergy-Pontoise in Cergy-Pontoise, France. ESADE is ranked as one of the best business schools in the world. The University of Cergy-Pontoise is a dynamic, state-funded university 18 miles north of Paris.

In January, 45 students from 18 universities around the world gathered with professors, academic mentors, and entrepreneurs in the ancient Spanish city of Segovia for the kickoff of the third year of LawWithoutWalls (LWOW). Since its launch in 2011, LWOW has drawn considerable attention for its groundbreaking approach to legal education, combining state-of-the-art technology with a far-reaching exploration of what the field of law might look like many years from now.

Sean Maye, a Miami Law 2L, said that for him, LWOW was an "unexpected opportunity to merge the seemingly invisible gap between my legal education and its real-world application, as well as a chance to discover and refine my entrepreneurial inclinations."