ELLM Student Spotlight: Cecilia Barrero

cecilia-barrero

Cecilia Barrero is currently an attorney and business developer at Aguilar Castillo Love, a Central American Law firm with 7 offices across the region, including Panama and Ecuador. She is in charge of generating new business for the firm and coordinating cross-border transactions.  She is currently in the process of relocating to Boston.

You have had a varied professional history across five countries in the Americas. Can you share how those experiences shaped and enriched you as a lawyer?

As you mentioned, I lived and worked in 5 different countries across Latin America and, even though it was challenging sometimes, after 20 years in this “professional trip” across the region, I can certainly affirm that I am a better lawyer because of that.

How have those experiences enriched me as a lawyer? Well, first of all you have to study and learn new laws that are different from what you studied at home. Secondly, culturally speaking, I was enriched too, not only on a personal and day-to-day basis, but professionally I learned how to think like local colleagues and act accordingly. In the end, all this sharpened my skills in coordinating cross-border deals, as it is so much easier to coordinate them when you know how the attorneys involved will think and act.

On the other hand, and probably as a way of adapting to changes in life, I got into a niche within our profession that is not a normal path for a traditional lawyer, which ended up becoming one of my passions: marketing legal services. Let’s say it is the “human” part of the profession, where you learn to deal with and create business among lawyers from different cultures. As someone once told me, only a lawyer can really market and sell what lawyers do, and that’s part of what I’ve been doing for the last 10 years.

There was only one country were I decided to leave my attorney role aside and become an entrepreneur, Brazil. I co-founded an events and catering company and it was a great experience where I strengthened my business skills.

Now, I am moving to the U.S., Boston to be more precise (things of destiny), and as of February 1st 2017, I started working as Business Developer and attorney with my previous firm, Aguilar Castillo Love. So far, it’s been another amazing challenge.

What kinds of issues did you face professionally that made you want to pursue additional education in the form of the Executive LLM in International Business Law?

The ELLM is a great instrument to complete my professional education. I started the ELLM at a time in my life when I already had many years of professional experience, and I felt, and continue to feel, that what I’ve been learning in the ELLM enriches and completes what I’ve been dealing with in my profession during these years.

As one of the attorneys in charge of coordinating cross-border deals at a Central American Law firm, taking into consideration that most of those deals involve either a North American law firm or an American company as partner in the deal or as a counter part, what I’ve been learning in the ELLM has helped me better deal with American laws and the American way of practicing law and doing business.

Based on what you’ve observed, how do you see U.S. and other international legal systems impacting how cross-border transactions in Latin America are handled?

In terms of the actual law, say that you have a cross-border transaction that involves a lot of different foreign laws and regulations. Part of the success of the transaction turns on figuring out which rules are actually implicated and figuring out how best to choose and work with good local attorneys. But it is the human part of the cross-border transactions that, from my perspective, is often a critical piece of the deal. There is still a lot to do in this field, lots of transition processes to observe more closely, and even new ones to create to make the deal work. As Latin America continues to grow and develop, the international influence on this human element will continue to shape the form of future deals.

In the ELLM mergers and acquisitions class with Professor Sullivan, I learned that many cross-border transactions fail because of not knowing how to deal with this human aspect of the transition. When you deal with these kinds of operations, you are also dealing with different cultures, different ways of seeing things and, basically, different ways of doing business.

How have you found balancing your studies with pursuing a part-time Master’s degree?

Well, let me tell you that we women are good at multitasking. So it is hard, but not impossible. I am completely loving the process.

Where do you hope to take your legal practice in the next five years?

Since I’ve just started a new professional challenge and am moving to a new place, I hope to be succeeding in this challenge over the next 5 years. I personally plan to develop new business for my firm in the U.S. and the Americas, and coordinate more and more complex cross-border transactions. I also have a more “complicated” dream. Since I’m going to be living in Boston from now on, I would love to sit for the Massachusetts Bar Exam.

Reflections on International Cyber Law and Governance

Assistant Professor Virginia Greiman is an internationally recognized expert on mega-project management and infrastructure development, privatization and project finance, corporate reorganizations, cyber-trafficking, and international commercial transactions. She has published and lectured extensively on international law, economic development, project management and finance, and international business law. Professor Greiman teaches International Business Transactions & Agreements and Global Cyber Law and Governance in the Executive LL.M. program. For more information on her expertise and work, visit Professor Greiman’s Portal

Below, Professor Greiman shares her thoughts on her cyber law course and the importance of the topics covered in today’s international legal environment: 

As reported daily by the world’s  media, national cyber security and global cyber governance have become the leading legal issues facing government, the military, the intelligence community, policy makers, cyber professionals, law firms, the technology industry, and academic institutions. With more reliance on ‘the cloud’, the Internet and mobile devices, our data and even our applications are becoming more distributed.  In our complex, interconnected world, no government or private enterprise can think of its security as an isolated problem, but rather one that requires greater interconnectivity, reliance on strategic partners and more robust systems to more quickly share information with our allied partners.  The sheer number of users of the Internet has grown to over 3.2 billion in 2015 and is expected to reach 4.7 billion by 2025, including rapid expansion in the developing world.  As widely noted in the literature this requires a focus on predictability, stability and security in the governance of Cyberspace.

Recently, we completed the first international cyber law and governance course offered to online students in the Executive LLM Program at Boston University.  I am pleased that those who participated benefited from the opportunity to absorb a large amount of emerging material on this subject crossing many fields of law including cybercrimes, cyber contracting, national intelligence, cyberwarfare, privacy and civil liberties, financial regulation, intellectual property, corporate competitiveness, social media, critical infrastructure protection, and many more legal and regulatory issues. Central to the course was to critically evaluate the role of international law in securing and regulating cyber space which required understanding the conundrum of national intelligence, corporate competitiveness and privacy rights and the challenges of balancing legal rights and obligations under each of these domains  (Greiman, 2016).

During the course many important questions were raised and discussed highlighting the importance of this subject to everyday practice. One of the topics discussed involved the evolution of China’s National Security Motivations and the development of solutions for the variance in national cyber security strategies.  In regard to this topic, the recent article below raises questions about China’s security demands that require a new perspective on meeting the demands of clients around the globe.

The Wall Street Journal reported on March 21, 2017 that Microsoft finished development of a tailor-made version of Windows 10 for Chinese government use that meets China’s heightened security demands. The product was developed in response to China’s concern about surveillance after the Snowden revelations, fearing that U.S. software provided ready access to the NSA in their collection of foreign intelligence information under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978.  China continues to exclude many of Microsoft’s products from government procurement lists in light of these revelations.  Microsoft, along with other tech companies that will follow suit, will face numerous challenges in meeting China’s demand for new products and specifications, while safeguarding their own source codes.

What are the implications of China’s demands for the technology industry generally, for Microsoft’s business model, for critical infrastructure protection, for government surveillance programs, for the user’s data protection, for privacy and civil liberties among other issues?

Another topic of interest in the course was the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals Decision involving Microsoft’s obligation to turn over private data to U.S. law enforcement that was located on a server in Ireland.  The 2nd Circuit reversed the lower court’s ruling and noted that U.S. government warrants do not apply to overseas data (Microsoft, 2016), essentially protecting the privacy and security of user’s data located on servers outside the United States.  This case raises important issues concerning the extradition of software versus people, and strategies that U.S. corporations might employ in the future to protect their customer’s privacy.  Also, it presents important policy questions for all countries concerning cybercrime enforcement, national security, and data protection.  How these legal issues might be resolved internationally is a challenge for all governments and for the cyber industry in the years to come.

References

Greiman, V.A. (2016) National Intelligence, Corporate Competitiveness and Privacy Rights:  Co-existing in Cyberspace. The Global Studies Journal, Vol. 9, issue 3, pp. 43-56.

Microsoft v. United States, No. 14-2985 (2d Cir. 2016).

The Wall Street Journal. Microsoft Modifies Windows 10 for China’s Government (March 21, 2017).

ELLM Alum Peter Manda Offers Pro Bono Assistance to Immigrants at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport

Peter Manda

Peter Manda is a ’16 ELLM graduate who is currently enrolled in the Graduate Tax LLM Program at BU Law. Peter runs his own business law and tax practice: www.mandaattorney.com. He recently volunteered at the Chicago O’Hare airport in response to Trump’s Immigration Ban.

When at the end of January I heard that attorneys had gathered at O’Hare in response to the Muslim Ban and formed into what has become the #ORDlawyers group and that they needed speakers of Farsi, I volunteered and spent four shifts helping out as best I could. I processed intake from travelers’ families and travelers who had been held in extensive detention; I monitored flight arrivals; and I took photographs for the group’s social media. I also interviewed and assisted families in Farsi and Spanish. In hindsight, it doesn’t seem like I spent much time out at the airport, but I am really grateful for the support of the BU Law School community – in helping me rearrange my classes and adjust my schedule so that I could help out.

By February 10, the O’Hare lawyers group had accomplished the following (in the group’s own words):

“Here are a few of the outcomes we achieved together:

  • We staffed over 800 volunteers at Terminal 5 throughout the week and received over 1,500 volunteer inquiries.
  • We provided support to over 210 travelers and their family or friends.
  • While the majority of people served were from Iran and Jordan, we assisted people from more than 30 different countries.
  • We provided valuable on-the-ground information to immigrants’ rights organizations and lawyers litigating cases and securing national stays around the country.
  • We created “know your rights” information sheets in Arabic, Farsi, Somali, Urdu, and other languages.
  • In less than 24 hours, we staffed volunteers at Dilley Detention Center in South Texas until the end of March. Volunteers are now signing up through the spring. This network could fully staff the project through the summer by the end of the weekend thanks to you!”

Because I speak Farsi, many think that I am Iranian or Muslim. I speak Farsi because my Jewish father learned during the Second World War that tolerance grows from communication and that the best way to prevent another Holocaust is to stand up to hate and to injustice whenever it occurs, and regardless of the religion it affects. I am not a Muslim; I am what Trump calls “an anchor baby.” My Austrian parents waited for me to be born in New York before traveling to Iran for work because they valued what America stood for – particularly religious freedom and freedom of speech and assembly. Hitler had decided that my Austrian grandparents were not Austrian. Rather, to him and his henchmen, my grandparents’ families were either Jewish or German. Most of the Jewish part of the family died in Theresienstadt or Auschwitz. One relative was hung in the Hayderiana in Prague because, as a graphic designer, she was caught printing leaflets for The Resistance.

Under this President, it was first the Muslims that were affected, then immigrants, and now the Anti-Defamation League is reporting a huge surge in anti-Semitic hate crimes around the country. I am by training a corporate / e-discovery attorney; but I think these times require us to do a little bit more than we are normally comfortable doing.

This photo, taken by Peter, was published in the New Yorker: http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/a-syrian-doctor-returns-to-illinois

This photo of Dr. Amer Al Homssi, taken by Peter, was published in the New Yorker: http://bit.ly/2jHAyCj

What gives me hope is that I wasn’t the only one who took the long trip out to O’Hare, even though I was in Chicago on a temporary project and every hour not billed hit my wallet. There were lawyers from the largest firms, small firms, and solo practitioners, as well as translators and graduate students. The American dream is real, and it is worth standing up for. I’m really grateful that BU also helped to make it possible for me to make my own contribution in a small way.

~ Peter Manda

Dr. John Sullivan Reflects on Mergers and Acquisitions and the ELLM

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For this blog, we caught up with Dr. John D. Sullivan, Chair of the Administrative Sciences department at BU’s Metropolitan College, and instructor in the ELLM program’s Mergers and Acquisitions course. Dr. Sullivan is a noted expert in health care policy, valuation, and finance; and has used his extensive background to help create a unique offering in the ELLM program which is highly-regarded by students for its multidisciplinary approach. He will be teaching the course again in this year’s Summer Budapest session with a residency of June 19- July 1, 2017. We asked him to discuss his background, and how it helps animate his approach to teaching his M&A course:

What are some of your career and academic highlights in doing M&A work?

I left the investment world after the junk bond crisis in the early ’90s, and then I found myself immersed in a world of mergers and acquisitions in the health care industry. We purchased companies throughout the United States, Asia, and Latin America. I found that a legal and financial background enables ones to see the implications of decisions made on asset valuation and risk. There are many grey areas and judgment calls at the intersection of finance and law, and part of my course asks students to grapple with those issues.

What will students take away from your M&A course?

My hope is that students will learn strategy, legal issues, and have an idea of the financial ‘backbone’ of the deal. In many respects, the lawyers that work on a transaction do not really talk to the bidders financing the transaction, which can have a huge impact on the final result. I think we can bridge this gap using a multi-disciplinary approach to the class in which we look at both the financial as well as the legal issues since they impact each other.

What has your teaching experience been like in the blended-online environment?

Having taught this course four times now I can say with confidence that I think the blended approach is great. We can have students from all over the globe who participate online, and when we meet for the first time during the residential session, it’s like magic. Everyone is prepared and I’ll say it’s fast paced, but by the end of the day, we are all better for it. As a professor, it is very gratifying to see how well things gel with everyone.

In terms of content, how does your M&A course differ from a traditional law school course?

When this course was originally offered in the ELLM some years ago by another instructor, it followed a much more ‘traditional’ Mergers and Acquisitions model like that taken by JD students as an upper year elective. When Ian recruited me to teach this course, he and I both agreed that a focus solely on legal theory in a M&A course for working practitioners was not the best approach. In my professional life I have seen time and time again how a proper background in both law and finance is indispensable to understanding corporate deal making– after all, it is considerations of taxation and finance that tend to drive the transactions, and having at least some understanding of those issues thereby helps in understanding what your client is trying to accomplish and how to best structure the transaction. As such, in this course we focus on the overall transaction. This is not about just reading case law, as we also explore the strategies and finance behind the deals. We will go through case law, of course, but students will get to experience the other pieces of the transaction that complement what they need to know if they want to practice in this field. For lawyers this approach is often a little scary at first — they sometimes say, ‘hey, we have to talk about finance too!?!’  — but by the end of the course they really understand how everything ties together and why the finance side is as important as the legal side.

What are some of the things you like best about teaching in the ELLM program?

The ELLM program is very special. As a faculty member that has taught in this program several times, I would say that it is always the students that get me up in the morning. With such a wonderfully diverse group of highly-educated and experienced people, I often tell my friends I feel guilty learning as much as I do from them! Students in this program are motivated and ask tough questions. The engaging environment is a wonderful atmosphere to teach in and I look forward to my class each year.

What are some of the recent updates you’ve made to your course and how do they address current issues in M&A?

For the course being taught in Budapest in 2017,  I’ve made some alterations where we will now focus a little less on finance and a little more on law. While it is important that students understand that negotiations may (and do) have a very real impact on valuation, there are other considerations as well. I try to make tweaks every year based on student feedback, my own impressions of how the course has gone, and to reflect updates in the law and policy. By doing so I am confident that the course will always prove useful and interesting to the students who take it — and that has been reflected in the student evaluations. Many times they say “I wasn’t sure about the approach at first, but I see now how helpful it was to study the issues holistically from both a legal and financial perspective.” I find that very rewarding.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Just that as much as I enjoy teaching this course every time, teaching it in Budapest is extra-special. It is a gorgeous city that provides a wonderful backdrop, and it’s nice to be able to sit along the Danube and ponder on course readings! We also get students from our partnership with ELTE and Lazarski in the courses offered in Budapest, and the richness of their backgrounds adds another layer on top of that of the ELLM students– it all makes for a truly dynamic teaching experience. I look forward to seeing everyone there!

Catching Up with BU Law’s MOOC on Compliance

compx_titlecardIn January 2015 the Executive LL.M. office first began work with BU’s Digital Learning Initiative (DLI) at BU, Babak Boghraty (LAW ’89), and a team of dedicated law students on BU Law’s first ever version of a Massive Open Online Course. The end result was a professional MOOC called “Legal Risk Management Strategies for Multinational Enterprises“, offered by edX (formed by Harvard and MIT and in which Boston University is a charter member). The course is a self-paced and extensive examination of the core legal concepts underlying business compliance and corporate accountability, and provides tools for multinational actors and corporations to identify, analyze and mitigate compliance risks in various financial and commercial contexts. Compliance continues to be a dynamic and growing market, and nearly every week brings us examples of another corporation hit with multi-million or even multi-billion dollar liability for compliance-related violations. 2016 brought numerous culminations in enforcement actions by the U.S. Department of Justice and SEC, including resolutions involving Och-Ziff Capital Managment ($412 million), VimpelCom ($397.6 million), Teva Pharmaceuticals ($283 million), and JPMorgan Chase ($264.4 million). As such, it is clear the stakes are large, and the potential pitfalls related to non-compliance are enormous.

The course, designed to provide a wide-ranging foundation,  is divided into four parts: Part I deals with the federal prosecution of business organizations, and examines concepts and doctrines such as imputed culpability, U.S. government sentencing guidelines for organizations, and the risk/reward structure of the compliance paradigm and how it is applied by the government. Part II’s content includes the federal oversight of corporate governance, including the accounting and anti-bribery provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), the COSO Framework, and the relevance of the Sarbanes Oxley Act; as well as discussion of who and what is covered by the FCPA. Part III focuses on creating and monitoring an effective compliance program; while Part IV discusses the concept of a Responsible Business Enterprise (RBE), OECD Guidelines, and building an in-house ethics program. Registrants who successfully complete the course materials and score 70% or higher on the final multiple-choice examination, which consists of 235 questions, are eligible to receive a professional education certificate issued by edX on behalf of Boston University. Upon completing the course, a student reflected that the course “provided comprehensive coverage on the topic at hand and gave indications of how it could be applied in real life situations.” Another student remarked that it “deepened his understanding of the roots and scope of the FCPA” as well as of other crucial laws and legal regimes related to risk management.

In addition to providing crucial information on effective compliance programs — useful to practitioners just starting out in this field or seeking to tighten up their company’s governance and risk mitigation programs — this professional MOOC is also attractive to practitioners seeking Continuing Legal Education credit, as it has been approved for CLE credits in over 30 jurisdictions: Alabama, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana,  Nebraska,  New Mexico, Nevada,  New York,  North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and  Wyoming. For a list of how many credits each eligible jurisdiction offers, please visit the website. In order to be accessible to students who are interested in potentially entering this career field, the MOOC is available at a 50% discount for students (see the course site for details).

Citing a lack of relevant text books in this field, in the interim Mr. Boghraty has also co-authored a book with Professor Tamar Frankel, Introduction to Organizational Compliance and Ethics, which is used as the coursebook for his course Introduction to Risk Management and Compliance taught at the School of Law since last year. BU Law’s commitment to the compliance field is also reflected in a growing compliance curriculum in both the Executive LLM in International Business Law (offering an all-online concentration in Enterprise Risk Management and Compliance) and the Banking and Financial Law LLM (offering a concentration in Compliance Management).

ELLM Alumni Spotlight: Julian Hodda

julian-hoddaJulian Hodda is an Australian trained lawyer and graduated from the Executive LLM in  2015. Julian is currently Senior Counsel at AECOM, a multinational engineering and infrastructure company on the Fortune 500 list.

Julian has a fascinating international professional history. He recently took some time to share his experience as a transnational lawyer and how the Executive LLM has impacted his practice.

What area of the law did you begin practicing in and how has your practice developed over the years?

My career began in the mineral exploration industry in Western Australia, working as a geotechnical diamond driller for a number of years on a 20-days-on, 10-days-off rotating shift schedule. After many long, cold nights and hot days, I decided that I was better suited to an office environment. I then went to study law in Melbourne, Australia. As a part of my law degree, I was required to complete a certain amount of experience and so I started working part-time at Mallesons Stephen Jacques, now known as King & Wood Mallesons.

I stayed with Mallesons for most of my degree as a paralegal in the Projects Department working on power plant projects in the Philippines and China, as well as some power and industrial plant matters in Australia. This was wonderful training and Mallesons was a great law firm to learn at. I then moved to Sydney and continued working in construction and projects law at two other firms. Eventually, I was contacted by my old partners at Mallesons to start up a projects practice for DLA Piper in Dubai. I joined them in June of 2007, just as Dubai was entering warp-speed with its construction boom. I then found myself part of a small team that was working on projects that seemed unreal. Our largest client at the time was Nakheel, a large real estate developer responsible for building the Palm Islands in Dubai.

After 6 months at DLA Piper, I was seconded to Nakheel as an in-house counsel for Projects and Infrastructures and became part of a small team working on some of the most “out there” projects you could imagine. In one of my first work meetings at Nakheel, we were working with our engineering team and a dredging contractor to determine if it was possible and what the impacts would be of remodeling one of the reclaimed islands into the shape of a dolphin. This way, if you flew over it or viewed a satellite imagine of the island, it would be dolphin-shaped. Every day there was something that was totally “out there”.

Like all good things, this job came to an end when the financial crisis hit the Dubaian real estate market. After a short time at another sovereign wealth fund-backed developer, I joined Honeywell at the end of 2009 as Global Contracts Counsel responsible for the Airport Business, a division of Honeywell that developed, manufactured, and installed various airport operating systems. This was a great job that spanned construction, corporate, R&D, IP, and international contracting.

In the early stages of that role, I realized that I wanted to add to my skillset in order to meet the new challenges that came from a new role in a business that included active operations in over 30 countries and legacy operations in many more. I researched various LLM programs available and the BU Executive LLM Program was the best fit. In fact, it was the only one that I applied to given that it was so aligned with what I sought in an LLM program.

Now that you’ve completed the program, how have you found the ELLM curriculum in terms of being useful for what you were facing on the job?

What I learned from the ELLM curriculum was useful from day one. My first subjects were Corporate Finance and U.S. Contract Law. Both gave me a great understanding of things that until then I had a veneer of knowledge. The finance training was excellent and if you are like me and have little formal training in finance matters, I’d strongly recommend it. Every day was filled with “Oh wow, that’s why that’s like that” moments on topics ranging from revenue recognition to understanding financial statements.

The reality is that the composition of the curriculum means that each time you complete a subject, you are putting that knowledge to work straight away. I found this with each of the other subjects I took, such as Intellectual Property, Securities Regulation, and International Business Transactions & Agreements.

You’ve been based across Europe, the Middle East, and East Asia. Can you share some of your experiences in facing these different legal environments and the challenges you have overcome?

The biggest impact comes from leaving a sophisticated and developed—yet somewhat staid—legal system where everyone is risk-adverse and where lawyers dedicate a lot of time to precise language in documents to entering a legal system that develops rapidly within and in response to a dynamic economic situation, where disputes may at times have completely unpredictable outcomes.

Combine this with speed and volume, and that’s pretty overwhelming. One of the last matters I worked on in Australia had me seconded to a client’s project to deal with some outstanding variations, as well as to bring some contract administration discipline. There, I was part of a team involving many industry veterans. In the Middle East and Asia, I would be doing similar tasks, sometimes on my own with no external support and for values I couldn’t understand. For example, during my time at Nakheel, in eight weeks we drafted a project documentation, negotiated the deal, and signed on an 800 M USD project. I suppose this was to be expected when on my first day at Nakheel, my boss at the time told me, “I am really crazy busy and now that you are here, everything for here to here [pointing on a map] is for you to deal with. I don’t want to hear from you unless it’s a major red flag issue.” While it took a bit of time for me to understand what constituted a red flag in his eyes, I understood that I had to learn quickly.

Differences in culture and background can be very interesting to learn, but you also learn very quickly that not everyone thinks the way you do. There are also some issues and problems that, as an Australian working for an American company, I’ve had to accept that I cannot solve, and that sometimes it is better to hand it over to the local team and have them decide—Chinese and Indian problems more often times than not have Chinese and Indian solutions.

Facetime is more valuable than letters and notices, although I’ve learned that people will sometimes end up postponing meetings to after your departure if they learn of your travel plans. I quickly learned that it’s a good idea to keep your travel dates to yourself and give vague answers. I especially learned this from my time in Dubai during its recession; contractors and suppliers posted people to hang out in our reception to hassle us for payment every time someone from a leadership position walked by. It drove us crazy and made us want to accelerate to close out the issue.

Lastly, don’t always trust the local practice advice or the translation of the message. I have changed translators regularly or mid-stream, taken two translators to the same meeting to write notes independently and double-instructed advice to check up on things.

What’s it like being a common law trained lawyer working in very different legal systems?

It’s a pretty fertile ground for mistakes or bad advice unless you make sure you work with those who are qualified in it and make actual efforts to understand the differences and applications! Common law lawyers can be a little bit like a person traveling overseas for the first time and assuming everything will be available to them in the places they are going. If I was to go back and do further study I would look at doing some comparative law. A lot of the world that I have worked in has a civil law system and it is important to make sure you take the right advice and modify your practice accordingly.

What’s behind your latest move back to Abu Dhabi?

I joined AECOM’s Doha office two years ago. Just as AECOM undertook a number of projects, design and construction management was really ramping up. With that ramp-up, many issues arose. We were also employing a large number of people each month and ended up with around 1,300 people in the country. I was lucky to be part of a talented team driving these projects to completion and with a number of these projects now in the final stages and with some additional jurisdictions falling under my responsibility, it seemed like the right time to move across and support some different parts of the business. AECOM is a great company to work for; they design, build, finance, operate, and manage projects and programs around the world. This allows for many opportunities to develop and there are many locations to practice.

You’re one of those people who is constantly on the move for work. How was it balancing the ELLM and your work life?

What really attracted me to the ELLM was the residency component. I find it hard to set time aside to study by correspondence or online, and I like the interactivity of a classroom setting. Although it’s a tough couple of weeks, you get to do a lot of subject material in one go. The Boston time zone/jetlag really worked for me as I was up around 4 AM in the morning to do a few hours of work, catch up on emails, and then prepare for class. I would be in bed by 8 PM and then repeat. Both companies were very good in providing me with some flexibility to attend and work remotely. The assignments are tough and you really have to make the time to complete them. In the end it’s worth it because you learn a lot by completion.

ELLM Flexibility Enhanced– Online Completion Now Possible!

Dear friends—XMAS Terrier

It has been a long time coming, but at last I am able to officially announce the changes to the ELLM residency requirement and our academic regulations. As we posted in October 2016, the ELLM, which since 2011 has proudly been a blended program, will continue to be a blended program but will now also be an entirely-online program! Students who wish to complete the ELLM entirely, or largely, through blended courses will still be able to do so, but the changes afford you even greater scheduling and curricular flexibility. Under these changes, effective immediately, the ELLM degree requirements are as follows:

  • Completion of 20 credits towards the ELLM degree
  • Completion of International Business Transactions and Agreements (3 cr., offered blended or all-online)
  • Completion of US Contract Law and US Corporate Law, unless waived (3 cr. each, offered blended and eventually all-online as well)

We will continue to offer a wide variety of blended courses, complemented by a robust all-online menu of offerings, as well as at least 2 residential sessions per year: Summer Boston and Summer Budapest. We will, from time to time, also offer either a Fall Boston or Spring Boston residential session as well. All-online courses will continue to run throughout the year. In 2017-2018, we will be supplementing out offerings by introducing all-online options for US Contract Law and US Corporate Law, as well as several 1-credit online courses.

The ELLM program currently offers 3 online concentrations, in International Taxation, International Environmental and Energy Law, and Enterprise Risk Management and Compliance, in addition to a Certificate in International Business Law and a Certificate in Enterprise Risk Management and Compliance.

I hope you will be as excited about this change as I am, and invite you to contact us with any questions you might have. I consider this a holiday present of sorts, and hope you will welcome this as a positive development as well. A reminder that our enrollment for Spring Online courses (including International Business Transactions and Agreements, and Transnational Legal Practice) is still open for a short time before registration closes.

 

With all best wishes for the holidays, I remain

Sincerely yours,

Ian

ELLM Alumni Spotlight: Sean Galliher

Sean GalliherWe sat down with January 2016 Executive LLM graduate, Sean Galliher, to learn more about his legal career path and what brought him to the ELLM program. Mr. Galliher is currently the Associate General Counsel at Skechers USA Inc., the three billion dollar performance and lifestyle footwear company based in Manhattan Beach, California.

You’ve worked for the government, in law firms, and now in-house. Can you describe what was behind each of those moves?

After interning to the Counsel to New York Governor Mario Cuomo while in law school, I was offered a full-time position after graduation with the New York State Civil Service Department.  My first boss was a Boston University law graduate who was a phenomenal attorney. After becoming involved with arbitration and mediation while working for New York State, I knew that I wanted to become a trial attorney and eventually moved on to a small trial firm located in Rochester, New York.  While there, I was able to participate in numerous jury trials, argue appeals and get involved in every facet of litigation.  I was involved in personal injury, criminal, and malpractice trials.  I even found myself in a trial involving Amy Fisher and her claim that several prison guards had sexually assaulted her while she was incarcerated at Albion Correctional Facility.  The practice was varied and exciting, but eventually my partner retired and the business was sold to a large personal injury firm and I spent several years consulting with that firm.

I had taken the California bar exam while on vacation one year and had been admitted to practice there in 2001.  After the consulting job ended, a New York law firm hired me in 2006.  I was hired to go to California and work inside Flynt Publications representing Larry Flynt.  This was my first exposure to an actual business environment.  I handled court appearances and motions in the Los Angeles area for his casino and entertainment enterprises.

In order to eliminate the cross-country travel I was doing, and time away from family, I eventually went to work with Skechers USA, Inc. as in-house counsel handling all aspects of the day to day legal business including international law, employment law, insurance and litigation among other issues.

Having such a varied and successful career, what made you decide to go back to school and pursue the Executive LLM?

After many years as a trial lawyer I found myself in a business setting.  Without a solid foundation or background in business, I was forced to learn on the job.  The longer I worked at Skechers and the more their business expanded, the more I began to handle very complex international legal issues.  I felt it would be helpful to get a traditional business education in order to become a more effective attorney in my current role.

Unfortunately, working a full-time job, I thought, made it impossible to get that education.  That is, until I heard about BU’s ELLM program and was very impressed by what I read and heard.  The program was designed in such a way that it allowed me to maintain my busy work schedule and get the formal legal business training I needed to be more efficient in my role as in-house counsel.  The fact that the Law School at Boston University was universally recognized as one of the top law schools in the country only made the program all the more appealing.  I had also worked for and met several attorneys from Boston University* throughout my career and was always impressed by their knowledge and ability.

*On a personal note – I was accepted to go to BU as an undergraduate way back in the early 80’s.  My father had died when I was 7 and my mother had no money. Unfortunately, I was financially unable to go to BU at that time.  I had to go to work and found jobs as a dishwasher and digging ditches in downtown Buffalo.  I married and then joined the Navy and spent the next decade working my way through school and law school, and raising a family.  When this opportunity arose, I was thrilled that after all these years I was able to finally attend and get a degree from BU.  It was very personal for me and I can’t thank you enough for all your help in making it happen.

Now that you’ve finished the Executive LLM, what have you learned or improved on that you find particularly useful at work? Were there any classes or professors that ended up really touching on something you’re facing in the office?

This question is very difficult to answer.  I have found the things that I learned throughout the course of the ELLM constantly coming up in a workplace setting.  For instance, while taking the class in International Mergers and Acquisitions I found myself in the middle of an acquisition of several companies and distributors in South America and Central America.  The very issues we were discussing on a daily basis were suddenly issues I was dealing with professionally.  Professor Sullivan was incredibly knowledgeable and I also relied on the training I received from Professors Wilson, Greiman, Cormier, and Campbell while dealing with different aspects of the deal. The confidence I had, based on the training I was receiving was invaluable in successfully completing the multi-million dollar deal I was involved in.

While in the ELLM program, I was also consulted on an international arbitration situation that involved Skechers, a Russian company and an arbitration in Switzerland.  While studying with Professor O’Neil I took an examination in class and was admitted to the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators in London.  This training allowed me to react accordingly and give sound advice, which helped my company navigate a difficult legal situation.

It would be impossible to single out a specific professor, as they were all incredibly knowledgeable.  In the courses I took while at BU Law, it seemed that every single professor was an expert in their field who had practiced in the area of their expertise.  That kind of background allowed them to impart theoretical training, which was important, but they also were able to teach the application of the material in the real world.  This proved invaluable to me after completing the program.

I think that for any attorney who thinks that they may end up doing international business work, and wants a program that will help them professionally from day one, this program should be the top program for them to consider.  The staff and the people running this program are first rate and they constantly strive to make your time at the university, and the time studying at home, productive and useful.  They consistently work to put you in a position to succeed.  Ian and Zachary were incredibly helpful and instrumental in making the ELLM program the first-rate experience that it is.  This is a program that actually will pay immediate dividends in your professional practice.

What are some of the new challenges and legal issues you’re seeing in your practice areas?

Most of the new challenges that I face revolve around the many international areas that Skechers is entering, or doing business in.  I have dealt with legal issues from Europe to Asia to South America.  Each time a problem arises in a different country, it poses legal issues, communication and cultural issues that you have to learn and react to.  The BU ELLM has been invaluable in helping me to properly approach these problems.  My experience at BU has made me a better attorney and equipped me with skills and resources I have found useful in navigating the challenges posed by the evolving world economy.

Professionally speaking, where do you see yourself five years from now?

I work for a corporation with a wonderful group of people that does business all over the world.  My office is located at the beach in Southern California with a view of the Pacific Ocean.  The job I currently have is both challenging and rewarding.  Hopefully, five years from now I am right here.

Last question, what’s your favorite legal movie and why?

Like most attorneys my age or older “To Kill a Mockingbird” is my favorite legal movie.  I remember watching it and wanting to emulate Atticus Finch (didn’t everybody?).  Made me think being a lawyer would be a great job.

Changes to ELLM Degree Requirements: Program Can Now Be Completed Blended or Entirely Online!

online-certificates-252x252Since 2011, the Executive LL.M. Program has established itself as an innovative program, designed to provide the academic rigor expected of a Boston University LL.M. degree, while also offering the flexibility necessary for domestic and international practitioners to undertake part-time studies.

Over the past five years, we have added two online certificate programs (the Certificate in International Business Law and Certificate in Enterprise Risk Management and Compliance), as well  as three online concentrations (in International Taxation, International Environmental and Energy Law, and Enterprise Risk Management and Compliance). The breadth of the ELLM curriculum has greatly increased over that time, including popular new blended and all-online offerings such as Deals: The Legal Engineering Behind Corporate Transactions; Transnational Legal Practice;  Global Compliance: Introduction and Best Practices; and Global Cyber Law and Governance.

Recently, the Law faculty approved a proposal that would expand the flexibility of the program even further, by removing the ‘residential’ requirement. Currently, the Executive LL.M. Program requires completion of 20 credits in ELLM or ELLM-approved courses, including completion of International Business Transactions and Agreements; U.S. Corporate Law for the International Lawyer (unless waived); U.S. Contract Law for the International Lawyer (unless waived); and 14 credits of residential (blended) courses, consisting of four 3-credit courses and two 1-credit Colloquia in Issues in International Business Law. Typically, students completed two residential sessions, in Boston or Budapest, in order to complete these requirements. Under the current proposal, which is pending official University approval, the ELLM degree requirements would be as follows:

  • completion of 20 ELLM or ELLM-approved courses
  • completion of International Business Transactions and Agreements (3 credits)
  • completion of U.S. Contract Law for the International Lawyer (3 credits), unless waived
  • completion of U.S. Corporate Law for the International Lawyer (3 credits), unless waived

As ELLM courses will continue to be offered in blended and all-online formats, students can therefore complete the program entirely through blended courses, entirely online, or through a mixture of the two. We will continue to offer two or more residential sessions per year (Summer Boston and Summer Budapest, in addition to occasionally offering Spring Boston and/or Fall Boston sessions). The Colloquia will be optional and will still count for credit, and will be offered in every residential session in which minimum registration numbers are met. To assist students in fulfilling the degree requirements via online courses, International Business Transactions and Agreements will continue to be offered in both blended and all-online format. In addition, U.S. Contract Law and U.S. Corporate Law will be offered in alternate years in both blended and all-online format. Additional all-online offerings will be added, including an online version of the Colloquia series, and a 1-credit course in Introduction to the American Legal System (designed for foreign-trained and non-lawyers).

These changes will allow students to have the best of both worlds: the blended format so popular with our students will remain, while removal of the residential requirement will enhance flexibility and better allow students to take the courses most useful to them, in the format and at the time most advantageous to them. It is anticipated that final University approval will be granted in mid-spring 2017.

ELLM Alumni Spotlight: Limei Mo

图片1_1Limei Mo graduated from the Executive LLM program in September 2015. After graduation, she accepted an offer from BlackRock, the largest asset manager in the world. Limei is currently the Head of Legal, Compliance and Risk for BlackRock in China.

In this new role, Limei will provide legal, compliance and risk oversight to the asset manager’s business in China. She also acts as a key stakeholder to participate in the regulatory development of China’s asset management industry, and in particular in its gradual opening up to foreign asset managers. 

Talking about her recent career move, Limei explained that although she has substantial knowledge and experience with Chinese financial institutions and China’s regulatory evolution, the ELLM program played a vital part in her gaining the qualifications and competencies needed to join the giant asset manager.

Limei explains, “the ELLM program gave me the ability to explore and understand issues both from a Chinese perspective and an international perspective. The program also enabled me to overcome the communication gaps I had with colleagues from all over the globe, and to function effectively as the bridge between China and western countries.”

Although Limei, as a Chinese national, often felt uneasy and even embarrassed by the multiple high-profile cases in compliance class that originated out of China, what she learned from the course eventually gave her a solid understanding of the FCPA regime and the SEC and DOJ’s rationale behind the enforcement actions. Such take-aways will undoubtedly give her the ability to develop a strong compliance program in the organization and put her in a better position to negotiate anti-bribery and corruption clauses with the local vendors and distributors.

When asked which course she thinks was the most useful to her work, Limei responded that all the courses are relevant to her job one way or another, including U.S. and Trans-border Securities Regulation, U.S. Corporate Law for the International Lawyer, and U.S. and International Intellectual Property Law.

While Limei was very impressed by the courses she attended and the professors she got to know during the program, Limei specifically mentioned Professor Pettit’s course, U.S. Contract Law for the International Lawyer. The case method used in the course, covering 40 contract cases highlighting fundamental principles in common law contracts, was a new experience for Limei compared to her LLB studies in China, which is much closer to a civil law system.  The way professor Pettit articulates and induces the student to explore the issues is something that Limei had never experienced in her LLB studies. The solid foundation and in-depth understanding of the basic legal principles will help Limei better negotiate contracts with her counterparts as well as allow her to better translate certain terms in common law contracts into a civil law context.

Limei at the 2016 BU Law Graduation ceremony.

Limei at the 2016 BU Law Graduation ceremony.

When talking about of the new challenges of her position, Limei commented that BlackRock is a very fast moving company. In fact, one senior executive who has been with the firm for many years shared with Limei her own experience–namely that she felt as if she was working in a new firm every three years. The big jump from banking to the asset management industry, coupled with fast regulatory changes in a performance-driven firm, Limei found herself swamped with numerous e-mails, meetings, and very long memos and legal documentation. Her biggest hope – in addition to settling down into the new environment – is to resume her normal life and go to three yoga classes every week.