Graduate Students From Around the Globe Expand Their Knowledge at UVA Law
The Class of 2015 at the University of Virginia School of Law counts among its ranks 42 students from 19 countries who are pursuing a graduate degree in law. These students come from careers at law firms and corporations, and in public service in the United States and abroad.
Participants in the Graduate Studies Program can earn either a master's in law (LL.M.) or doctor of juridical science (S.J.D.), and take classes alongside J.D. students, allowing them to fully immerse themselves in the study of U.S. law. Five new students are pursuing the S.J.D. in residence this year. Graduate students typically have obtained their undergraduate degree in law from a foreign country, and studying for an advanced degree in the United States is a way to further promote their careers.
The Law School recently spoke with four international LL.M. students about their evolving careers and why they chose UVA Law.
Gerardo Zimbron Santamaria
Home country: Mexico
Education: LL.B. (Licenciatura en Derecho), Universidad Iberoamericana, Mexico City, Mexico
Work experience: Before coming to Charlottesville, I worked for one of Mexico's leading law firms for approximately six years, where I was part of the mergers and acquisitions practice group and had the opportunity to participate in domestic and international transactions.
What led you to come to UVA Law? The academic excellence that the University of Virginia and its faculty have, the fact that it has a broad spectrum of high-quality courses available to LL.M. students and the flexibility to create one's own program.
What do you hope to do with your UVA law degree? I hope that my studies at UVA will allow me to have a much better understanding of certain aspects of the American legal system and complement my knowledge of Mexican law.
What are your initial impressions of the United States? Charlottesville is a very beautiful town with a great student atmosphere. I am very happy to be here.
What have you liked best about UVA Law so far? Everything. Everyone is very friendly and there are many different interesting activities.
Konstantina Maria Karampatsou
Home country: Greece
Education: LL.B., University of Athens; European Master in Law and Economics, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands & Ghent University, Belgium
Work Experience: Having completed internships at legal institutions in my home country, I gained professional experience abroad working in Brussels. I first spent some time at the European Commission's Directorate-General for Competition, where I assisted on antitrust cases in the information technology sector. Afterwards, I continued working at the competition/antitrust practice of an international law firm.
What led you to come to UVA Law? From my studies and working experience, I realized the significance of having an international perspective on law. I was convinced that an education at a U.S. university would improve my skills as a legal professional. Taking into account recommendations of its alumni, UVA Law struck me as an ideal place to achieve this objective, thanks to its renowned faculty and curriculum.
What do you hope to do with your UVA law degree? After this LL.M. course, I hope to continue my legal career in the fields that I am interested in, whether in my home country, Europe or the United States. I am confident that this degree will prove to be an invaluable asset, giving me many opportunities for professional growth.
What are your initial impressions of the United States? Living in the United States has been a great experience so far. I have been enjoying making new friends, exploring Charlottesville and discovering the American culture every day.
What have you liked best about UVA Law? My cool classmates, the friendly faculty and staff, and the exciting extracurricular activities.
Home country: Italy
Education: J.D., University of Padua School of Law (summa cum laude); University of Bergen School of Law (Norway), exchange student; University of Milan School of Law, postgraduate course in corporate law; Bocconi University School of Law (Milan), postgraduate course for corporate counsel.
Work Experience: Before coming to the University of Virginia School of Law, I worked for three years as an associate at Studio Legale Spinazzi Azzarita Troi, a leading Italian corporate and litigation boutique law firm. This allowed me to delve deep into various transnational and corporate issues, to collaborate in complex multi-jurisdictional claims, and to assist both domestic and multinational high-profile clients. My practice focused mainly on corporate law, mergers and acquisitions, and international commercial transactions.
What led you to come to UVA Law? After thorough consideration of all available LL.M. programs, the University of Virginia School of Law seemed just the perfect place for me: an academic environment of high prestige and quality, where you can immerse yourself in your studies amidst beautiful nature and high enthusiasm for athletics.
What do you hope to do with your UVA law degree? My goal is to improve my legal skills and to enhance my capacity to deal with transnational legal matters. I want to use this knowledge to give any future client, both on a domestic and international level, the complete and highly qualified assistance necessary in the legal market today. I am confident that the completion of my LL.M. at UVA Law will mark a fundamental step towards the accomplishment of this aim.
What are your initial impressions of the United States? Just great. The feeling of living in a truly dynamic and challenging environment is something priceless. Moreover, people in general seem to be really friendly and open-minded, so that it becomes really easy to exchange ideas and different opinions, for the benefit of all.
What have you liked best about UVA Law so far? The extremely high competence of the faculty, the strong practicality of the classes, and the general high level of preparation among students. In addition to all of that, everybody is approachable and helpful, so that the atmosphere within the Law School is really delightful and congenial.
Home country: Japan
Education: J.D., University of Tokyo, Graduate Schools for Law and Politics; LL.B., Keio University
Work experience: Before coming to UVA Law, I worked for four-and-a-half years at Anderson Mori & Tomotsune, a leading law firm in Japan, where I engaged in a myriad of challenging international and domestic matters, especially those involving financial regulations and transactions. During that time, I also worked at a major asset management company for one year in secondment (a temporary assignment), where I engaged in broad corporate matters, including its investment management business and mergers and acquisitions. During the secondment, I was also a member of the Investment Management Committee of the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan and promoted some amendments in the investment trust law of Japan.
What led you to come to UVA Law? My work experience made me aware of the importance of broadening my knowledge and understanding of the law and practice in the U.S., which considerably influences the law and practices of other countries in the world. I found UVA Law to be the ideal place to pursue my LL.M. because of its great reputation, faculty members, courses offered involving finance, and also the excellent environment.
What do you hope to do with your UVA law degree? After graduation, I will go back to Japan and continue my career as a finance lawyer. I believe my studies and experiences here will enable me to acquire broad and practical knowledge involving the U.S. law and systems, especially involving finance, as well as an in-depth understanding of the fundamental concepts behind them, which would add significant value in providing comprehensive advice to clients. I am also keen on contributing to the development of the financial law, system and market in Japan.
What are your impressions of the United States so far? I am amazed by how open, friendly and helpful people are. I am also surprised by how people in the U.S. are proactive in making a positive change in their own and other people's lives. Living in the U.S. for the first time, I really love it and feel so comfortable.
What have you liked best about UVA Law so far? Everything! The faculty members are great, and every class has been inspiring; the beautiful campus provides me with lots of favorite spots; and my diverse classmates are always helpful and give me lots of joy. I like this beautiful environment in Charlottesville. I am enjoying everything here so far.
Founded in 1819, the University of Virginia School of Law is the second-oldest continuously operating law school in the nation. Consistently ranked among the top law schools, Virginia is a world-renowned training ground for distinguished lawyers and public servants, instilling in them a commitment to leadership, integrity and community service.