Loyola hosts law students from German partner law school
Loyola University Chicago’s Office of International LLM Programs recently hosted students and faculty from the University of Hamburg Law School for a one-week visit in September. Prof. Dr. Dr. Milan Kuhli, a professor of law at the University, accompanied ten students to Chicago to study and experience U.S. law. The visit is part of a unique intercultural exchange program facilitated by Loyola and supported by the University of Hamburg. Organized with assistance from Christoph Lichtenfeld of Chicago Sister Cities International, students had the opportunity to stay in private residences in Chicago neighborhoods and immerse themselves in the city’s many rich cultural offerings.
The Hamburg students were selected from over 30 applicants to enroll in a seminar about U.S. and comparative law at their law school. The seminar’s highlight is a visit to Loyola University Chicago, designed to introduce US-style legal education and the professional legal world in a major U.S. city. The visitors enjoyed a full program that included lectures and meetings with practitioners from various legal fields.
After an introduction to legal research by Julie Grant, Loyola’s international librarian, the students conducted research on their seminar papers in Loyola’s law library. They learned how to “Write Like a Lawyer” in a lively and engaging presentation by Karen Shaw, Loyola’s Director of Graduate Legal Studies. In a presentation hosted by the Loyola’s Foreign Lawyers Association, Professor James Hagy provided insight into skills necessary to advise international clients in global transactions. Joining Loyola’s international LLM students in their course “Introduction to U.S. Law,” taught by Insa Blanke, Executive Director of International LLM Programs, they experienced the U.S. participatory and discussion-based teaching style. In addition to observing jury trials in the Circuit Court, the German students visited two presentations at the law firms Barnes & Thornburg and Sidley Austin. Judge Sheila Murphy fascinated them with an account of her lifelong focus on restorative justice in her work as a public defender, private attorney, trial judge, and court administrator. Rebekah Azar-Rashidfarokhi, Director of Chicago Volunteer Legal Services, introduced the visitors to the extensive network of volunteer attorneys who donate free legal services to thousands of low-income residents of Chicago.
“The visit opened the German law students’ eyes to various aspects of the common law system that differ from the German civil law system,” said Blanke, who organized the program. “And the personal exchange with legal professionals added to their understanding of the particular U.S. legal culture. Overall, the students were taken by the beauty of the city and its diversity, as well as by the friendliness and hospitality of Chicagoans—not to mention all that they learned in the process.”
Why did you decide to pursue an LLM degree?
I knew that completing an LLM degree in US Law for Foreign Lawyers would help to strengthen my confidence and credibility as a lawyer. The LLM degree, coupled with the knowledge and experience that I have already gained through my work as a lawyer, has contributed significantly to improving my skills as a corporate lawyer, and has placed me ahead of others in the legal market.
Why did you choose Loyola Chicago?
I chose Loyola Chicago for many reasons. First, living in Chicago as an international student is an interesting experience. Chicago is an incredibly rich legal market for international lawyers. Opportunities in Chicago are limitless. Loyola has an amazing staff that assists students in exploring opportunities and options. The classes offered at Loyola are diverse and can expose a student to a variety of different specialties. I chose international law and Alternative Dispute Resolution classes because they are of personal and professional interest to me.
What did you enjoy most about your academic experience at Loyola?
My classes in ADR all focus on practical experience—we learn from role playing and practice, which has been enjoyable. The faculty at Loyola is very welcoming. Even after graduation I continue to consult with many of them for professional advice.
What was the biggest academic challenge, and how did you overcome it?
My first law degree is from a civil law system. Immersion in common law studies was challenging at first, but I soon caught on, and the learning process began to flow easier. Practical exams and role-playing in my ADR classes was challenging but extremely helpful.
Tell us about your current job and how your Loyola education helps you in your job?
I currently work at the legal vice presidency of the World Bank in Washington, DC, where I work in Africa and Middle East operations. The LLM provided me with the specialized skills necessary to land my current job. In particular, my studies at Loyola have helped me to gain insight into how international organizations work.
What have you enjoyed most about living and studying in Chicago?
Culturally, there is no place better to experience than Chicago. Chicago is an international business hub that creates numerous opportunities for working professionals and students. For example, one of my favorite courses was Non-Profit Organizations in Chicago. Each week Professor James Hagey organized a "field trip" for students. We visited a law firm, and an NPO, and meet and talked with people who worked there. It was an incredible experience to walk from class to an international renowned law firm just a few blocks away.
Do you have any advice for students considering Loyola’s LLM Program for International Lawyers?
I have no doubt that my LLM degree from Loyola gave me the skills and credentials necessary to get ahead in a very competitive legal market. I would highly recommend to my fellow lawyers from around the world to consider this program. Loyola Chicago University offers an array of different specialties and classes that will allow you to make the correct decision in choosing the suitable path that is right for you.
Saba Gheshan graduated from the University of Jordan with a Bachelor’s Degree in Law in 2012. Prior to joining Loyola Chicago, she worked as a trainee lawyers for Al Tamini & Company, Jordan, and Ali Sharif Zu’bi Advocates and Legal Consultants, Jordan. After graduating with an LLM in International Law and a Certificate in Alternative Dispute Resolution in 2015, Saba joined the World Bank Group in Washington, DC as a Legal Associate.