Goodbye, 2017– Hello, 2018! A Year in Review

Dear friends of the ELLM Program:

2017 offered its share of challenges and rewards. As we look forward to the New Year before us, I wanted to take a moment to recap some of the highlights of the past twelve months, and offer some hints as to what you might expect going forward.

One of the largest questions our program faced this past year was whether we would be returning to Budapest in 2018. As you may know, 2017 marked our 5th anniversary in this beautiful and dynamic city. Recent education legislation passed by the Hungarian government requiring “bilateral” agreements between States and the Hungarian government posed some issues for U.S. institutions, ourselves included, and until recently it was far from clear whether we would be returning there. At this point I am delighted to announce that we will be returning to Budapest in 2018 for our Summer Budapest Session, and for at least the next few years thereafter. This is welcome news, and for those of you new to the ELLM, or who have not yet joined us for a Budapest session, I hope we will see you there in June!

BU Law Tower (2)One of the most significant changes to the ELLM also took place last year, namely revision of our academic regulations to allow completion of the ELLM degree entirely online. This provided our students with enhanced flexibility, and while our hybrid courses remain popular, recent indications are that this increased curricular flexibility has proven extremely popular. Not only have we recently surpassed our all-time high in enrollments, but for the spring 2018 online session students are taking six partner courses, directed studies, and our new course in International Business Negotiation. This addition to our curriculum not only enhances our transactional offerings, but allowed for some exciting (and challenging) experimentation with new technologies to deliver the course. I am supremely confident that you will find this course both interesting as well as professionally useful, and that you will see firsthand why Professor Bob Burdick has been a valued member of the BU Law faculty for decades. In addition to Bob Burdick, we welcomed two members of the full-time teaching faculty to our program, Professors David Walker and Maria Hylton joined the ELLM, taking over the teaching of U.S. Corporate Law for the International Lawyer and U.S. Contract Law for the International Lawyer, respectively. We will be featuring in-depth introductions to each of them over the new few months.

2017 was also the year that we modified one of our existing certificates, the Certificate in Enterprise Risk Management and Compliance (CERMC), so that it could be offered as an ‘add-0n’ credential in addition to the free-standing 12 credit certificate option. Under the ‘add-on’ option, ELLM students may complete one additional 3-credit course in order to obtain both the CERMC as well as the ELLM degree. Several ELLM students have already availed themselves of the opportunity to receive the CERMC in addition to the ELLM degree through the completion of one extra 3-credit course.

Looking forward, here is a ‘sneak peek’ of one upcoming announcement: we will be offering a new certificate in the fall of 2018. While I cannot formally announce it until it has received University approval, I can say it will be related to (and include) our new Negotiation course and will be modeled after the CERMC in that it will be offered as both a free-standing certificate as well as an ‘add-on’ credential.  I am sure there will be other exciting announcements and developments in the months ahead which I will look forward to sharing with you, but in the interim please feel free to contact our office if you wish to know more about this planned new certificate, or if you wish to earn the CERMC as an add-on credential prior to your graduation.

On behalf of myself and Zac, we wish you a healthy and prosperous 2018! As always, we welcome your questions and comments.

ELLM Student Feature: Hala Bou Alwan

Hala Bou Alwan2

Hala Bou Alwan is the Head of Market Development at Thomson Reuters for Global growth and Operations & Emerging Countries. Connect with Hala

What are your main responsibilities in your current position?

I am responsible for market development of the Risk Business across all emerging markets (we call it at Thomson Reuters, Global Growth Organization). My main focuses are people readiness, market readiness, and product readiness. I enable key people and talent in emerging markets, making sure that they have the proper training and access to resources. In terms of market readiness, I make sure that people in emerging markets know our brand and that we are addressing market needs and challenges. I am also responsible for developing and maintaining close partnerships with regulators, who of course play such a major role in the compliance industry. And finally, I make sure that we have thought leadership in each emerging market, since what a lot of clients look to us for is thought leadership within a specific region and industry. In terms of product readiness, I make sure that when we plan and offer any service or solution, we know exactly what the market needs. That means I spend a lot of time managing how to localize our offerings to be closer to our customers. For instance, if we have a solution for a specific issue in the Latin America market, I make sure that solution is properly localized for addressing that same issue in China.  Some of our customers’ challenges across emerging markets that I deal with, for example, are mitigating the risks of money laundering, bribery, corruption, fraud, illegal weapons trafficking, human trafficking, slavery, and child labor.

In terms of professional backgrounds, what types of people do you see as marketable and successful in the regulatory compliance industry?

I generally see three categories of people. The first are people with specific domain knowledge. They have a history of working on something like compliance or anti-money laundering. And they might have been a lawyer, an investigator, or worked as a compliance officer in a bank, for example. Then there are those from management roles in business. The key marketable skill there is being an expert communicator, as so much of working in a compliance role is communicating with various stakeholders. Finally, I see people with business development backgrounds. These people have expertise in building programs from scratch and ideally have operational experience as well.

How has the ELLM curriculum been beneficial to your current job?

The ELLM is satisfying a big curiosity of mine. I have not had the opportunity to study things like U.S Contract Law, International Business Transactions and Agreements, and Cyber Law in a formal setting. So learning the legal doctrines in these subject areas and how they are applied is fascinating to me on an intellectual level. On a practical level, a lot of what I have learned in the classroom translates directly to things I encounter on the job. For instance, now when I am confronted with entering a new market and localizing agreements, I have a deeper understanding of contract structures and the larger business implications. Similarly, I am now better equipped to identify and deal with information security and privacy issues. Cyber law is one of our growth areas, and we are always looking for new thought leaders and ideas on how to spread awareness. Having a background in cyber law allows me to speak more clearly about such topics with both industry experts and clients.

What are you currently working on in the ELLM?

I am currently pursuing a Directed Study with Professor Greiman. After taking her Global Cyber Law and Governance class I wanted to continue my studies in this field. For my Directed Study, I am investigating cyber policies on an international level, looking at research on how and why corporate cyber policies fail and the impact on public and private sectors. Part of my inquiry looks at how companies can take an efficient approach to cyber policies that are adaptable to different jurisdictions. As a lawyer, I am of course also interested in how law firms implement cyber policies to address their cyber issues.

We heard that you are teaching now as well. How is that going?

This past September I began teaching at American University in Dubai. I teach a business communications class to junior and senior level students. It has been a wonderful experience for me and I love the teaching process. I have actually adopted teaching techniques from my professors in the ELLM and have also used similar course structures. I even integrated storytelling, poem writing, and role-playing into some of my classes; an inspiration taken from Professor Pettit. I hope to continue both my professional and academic career in the future, as I find both stimulating in different and enriching ways.

ELLM Alumni Feature: Robert Brown

Robert Brown

Robert Brown is the Vice President of Strategic Business Development at ViaSat (NASDAQ: VSAT), a company headquartered in Carlsbad, California. Robert works out of their Dallas offices.  Robert’s company is involved in a wide range of projects from satellite internet to managed WiFi networks and other connectivity services for businesses, residents, military, commercial airliners and aircraft for the U.S. government’s executive branch (including Air Force One), and as an underlying service provider to cable companies.

Robert graduated from the Executive LLM program in 2014. In addition, Robert also holds an MBA from Colorado Tech and a BS from University of Texas Austin. We recently caught up with Robert and asked him the following five questions.

What was your motivation behind earning the Executive LLM in International Business Law?

Attending law school was something that I had thought about pursuing after my undergraduate and graduate studies. However, by the time I was actually ready to do it, I was far enough along in my career that it would have been difficult to step away from work to earn my JD. So I never ended up pursuing the traditional JD route.  However, I had still desired to build an acumen in law through formal education. Throughout my career, I have faced legal related issues, particularly with respect to contract negotiation and business development. Earning a degree in law was important to me in terms of fully appreciating the language of the law and elevating my understanding of legal issues that I encounter on the job. I also knew that earning the ELLM would be a positive step for my career, and was proud to have earned that from Boston University. The degree ended up being a lot more than just checking a box on my career bucket list per se, or adding a line to my resume. The program was run really well, the BU community was great, and the professors were simply outstanding. Moreover, I really got a lot out of the program on both a personal and professional level.

How was it being a non-lawyer in the program?

I understand there are more non-lawyers in the program these days than when I was enrolled. What I truly appreciated about the curriculum and exchanges with my fellow students was that I was never given the easy questions, nor in any way meant to feel inferior to others in the class who had a JD. To the contrary, my comments were heard and appreciated and I felt included the whole time. Despite the fact that I wasn’t a lawyer, what was also great about the program was the diversity of the students from around the world and getting to hear their perspective on current events, socio-economic matters and political influences in their home country. It goes without saying that sometimes Americans have a skewed understanding of how things are done abroad, especially those privileges we take for granted that may be a struggle for those in other countries. Some folks in the program were younger than me (in their twenties and early thirties), whereas others like myself were in our forties. I wasn’t completely green though coming into the ELLM program as I have for many years dealt with international business law concerns, regulatory compliance, data and privacy laws and litigation, and mergers and acquisitions from a corporate standpoint. And throughout my career, I have also worked on very high-level multimillion-dollar contracts. From those experiences, I looked at deals from a different perspective than the corporate lawyers. The non-lawyers, particularly those folks like myself in the corporate world who serve as subject matter experts for our technologies and services, bringing real-world perspective is important for the lawyers to fully appreciate the business at hand for which they are advising risk or negotiating on behalf of the business. There was also good banter between the lawyers and non-lawyers in class. I was sort of a sponge in the sense of seeing how the lawyers would respond to a professor’s questions differently from how I might and was fascinated listening to classmates talk about how they would handle things in their countries or at their firm. Often times during that banter the professor would side with the non-lawyer, which I thought was interesting.

How did the program improve your ability to deal with legal related matters?

While I can’t say I left the program stating I could draft an entire contract from scratch, I am confident that I understand the language of law.  Moreover, I now understand the construct of a contract much better, from the preamble to the definitions, to all the different sections, components, and exhibits, and have drafted several contracts since which our Legal team then cleans up.  As a direct result of the  course in this program, I now have a deeper understanding of why contracts are constructed the way they are, of why certain pieces in them are more passionately negotiated (i.e. indemnities, reps. and warrants), whereas in other parts of that same contract a company may stand their ground.  I recall early in the program learning about contract remedies, which I thought helped set the stage for when dispute scenarios were raised in later classes such as trademarks, copyrights and other intellectual property law. It prompted me to start thinking about my own contracts and how I/my company would deal with arbitration, mediation, and how to define all the different courses of action in the event of a dispute.

Was it helpful to take courses that did not directly align with issues you faced on the job?

Yes, of course.  However, I may not have had the confidence participating in similar discussions in my current role, had I not first learned about the subject in this program.  For instance, dissecting the Enron corporate structure and finding out the way they structured their various entities in and of themselves was not illegal. It was how they recognized earnings and inflated CapEx and OpEx that ultimately caught up with them (and was illegal), as was what similarly happened with Worldcom. That particular class, Corporate Finance, ended up being one of my favorites… and I hate math! Remember, however, I came into this program with an MBA already, so I understood much of that, but my appreciation for finance was from the lens of a CPA or business owner managing their P&L, and not that of lawyer. Professor Wilson made the class fun. He didn’t just say here’s a balance sheet and here’s how we do functions. Instead, he used layperson analogies and fun exercises so that the material would resonate.

What are some of the kinds of legal issues you are currently encountering?

One of the things I’m contending with these days is international data laws.  What’s interesting is that I began the ELLM program completing a 1-year contract with Google, which is obviously a very large company and frequent target for litigation, both from the private sector and from regulatory bodies (i.e. the EU recently slapping fines against them for specific PII related to Google Maps). Shortly after Google, I joined a small private company in Texas called NetNearU as their Chief Business Developer Officer, and immediately upon hire was told by our CEO that we’re going on the road to sell the company.  Thus, much of the stuff I was learning at the time in the ELLM program was relevant to the M&A process.  Within a year, we were purchased by a multi-billion dollar public company, ViaSat, which is where I am today.  As NetNearU, we went from being content with self-attestation of PCI compliance for example, to now with ViaSat doing a full audit of our systems, policies, people and more.  Similarly, certain personally identifiable information that we would have been fine storing on our servers in Texas, such as names, emails, passwords, social media login info, etc. had to be migrated to a more secure, anonymized or tokenized way as we moved to cloud-based services, and to conform with data laws per country.  Furthermore, data transfer and storage may happen differently here in the U.S. than over in Country X. In fact, in certain EU countries, much of, if not all of that data transferred across a network must reside on cloud servers which are in that country, or we face breaking local laws.  As a global company, we have to look at all factors of doing business in each and every country where we sell our products and services, to ensure we are compliant with their local laws, in addition to how we setup entities, hire employees and provide employee benefits in those countries, among many other things of course.

In summary, as I continue to be faced with new challenges each and every day, I have been fortunate in both my career and in my decision to have enrolled in the ELLM program at Boston University.  I recommend this program to anyone interested in law, whether a practicing lawyer aiming to add a mastery in International Business Law to their credentials, or for other professionals who wish to have a deeper understanding of International Business Law in support of their line of work.

Certificate in Enterprise Risk Management and Compliance Now Offered as ‘Add-On’ Credential

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As of November 2017, I am pleased to announce another program refinement for our friends in the Executive LL.M. Program at Boston University–  degree candidates can now obtain the Certificate in Enterprise Risk Management and Compliance (CERMC) as an add-on credential to their ELLM degree. While the CERMC will still be available as a free-standing credential that allows for advanced standing in the ELLM, for students matriculated in the ELLM program they can earn the CERMC by completing just 3 more credits during the course of their ELLM studies! In order to receive the ELLM degree with the CERMC certificate, the following are the requirements for completion:

  • XB 815, International Business Transactions and Agreements (3 cr.)
  • XB 813, Contract Law for the International Lawyer (3 cr.) — required unless waived
  • XB 816, U.S. Corporate Law for the International Lawyer (3 cr.) — required unless waived
  • completion of sufficient ELLM courses to achieve a total of 23 credits towards the degree requirements, including at least 12 credits towards the CERMC requirement.

The CERMC requirement is met through taking 12 credits from the following basket:

  • XB 616, Enterprise Risk Analytics (4 cr.)
  • XB 610, Enterprise Risk Management (4 cr.)
  • XB 613, Enterprise Risk Planning and Compliance (4 cr.)
  • XB 822, Global Compliance: Introduction and Best Practices (3 cr.)
  • XB 826, Global Cyber Law and Governance ( 3 cr.)
  • XB, 825, Directed Study (variable credits)

To clarify, the extra 3 credits completed need not be from the CERMC basket — but of course can be, if so desired — provided that the Certificate requirements are otherwise fulfilled during the ELLM studies.  ELLM degree candidates remain free to obtain existing concentrations if desired, although it is not possible to receive both the Enterprise Risk Management and Compliance concentration as well as the CERMC as part of the degree program as they are structurally similar.

So, in short, completing the CERMC requirements and all other degree requirements, with a total of 23 credits, allows you to obtain both the ELLM as well as the Certificate.  This is reflective of a new approach to some certificate programs at Boston University, and we are pleased that the ELLM has been an early adopter of this as well. We believe, as I am sure many of you will, that this additional credential will be attractive for reasons of personal and professional advancement and enhancement. If you have any questions about this, please contact us and we will be happy to discuss!

Coming this spring: International Business Negotiation


Professor Burdick is joining the ELLM faculty in spring 2018 with an innovative new online skills course: International Business Negotiation.

The course will mix online negotiations with live seminar classes to give students the opportunity to leverage distance education technologies to advance their negotiation skills. Below, Professor Burdick has shared his personal background and vision for the course.

My Background for Teaching “Negotiation”

I am a Clinical Professor of Law at Boston University School of Law and the Director of its civil litigation clinic. I have a BA from Harvard, ’68, and a JD from Boston University School of Law, ‘72. In 1975, I began teaching in the civil litigation clinic at BU. I taught second and third-year law students how to help clients solve civil legal problems by negotiating and litigating while representing the clients of Greater Boston Legal Services. In 1977, I became the Director of the civil litigation clinic, a position I have held ever since.

I immediately recognized the remarkable power of negotiation roleplays to teach professional problem-solving skills and legal concepts in action. In 1989, I added a negotiation simulation course at Northeastern University School of Law to my teaching load. I typically teach two-quarters of Legal Negotiation a year at Northeastern. In 1992, I added a non-legal negotiation simulation course for graduate students in urban and environmental planning at Tufts. I now teach Tufts undergraduates how to negotiate in the Fall and Tufts graduate students in the Spring and Summer every year. I also taught negotiation at Tufts’ Gordon Institute for mid-career engineers.  In 1993, I partnered with Dan Burstein to develop negotiation training materials under the name Negotiator Pro. We have a website,, where many of my negotiation simulations can be purchased. In all, I have taught well over 100 separate simulation courses in negotiation.

My Goal for teaching International Business Negotiation in the Executive LLM

My goal for this course is to help students lay the foundation for teaching themselves how to negotiate better over time. Over the years I have broadened my understanding of the definition of “negotiation” and what it is I am teaching. While most people tend to think that “negotiation” means “bargaining”, I believe it involves many other skills and strategies such as relationship building, agenda setting, strategizing, goal setting, information sharing, and brainstorming as well as bargaining. I have come to think of “negotiation” as “the process by which we work more efficiently, more creatively, more ethnically and in general, more effectively with other people whose help we need to satisfy our own interests better than we can by ourselves.” I believe that our formal educational system has a large blind spot about teaching this process. I hope this course can be part of a long-term strategy for filling this gap using the unique potential of distance learning technologies to reach a much larger audience.

My Strategies for Teaching Negotiation using Distance Education Technologies

My strategies for teaching people how to negotiate involve introducing them to several written models of negotiation, inviting them to test these models for themselves in real and simulated negotiations, to write plans and self-critiques for each simulation, and to demonstrate and discuss what these strategies look like in action. There are assigned readings, live seminars, live simulations, written assignments based on the simulations, and different kinds of feedback about their negotiation theories and performance. By teaching the course online, we will be able to record simulations and share them with the class, which will be an exciting new way to review and analyze the simulations. During an average week in this course, students would conduct an online negotiation simulation that would be recorded and which I would be able to view after the fact, and they would “participate” in a one and a half hour “seminar.” During the seminar, the simulation and the strategic topic for the week would be discussed and illustrated in different ways. We are currently working hard to develop this course on Blackboard and are very excited to offer it to ELLM students. If you have any questions about the course, please feel free to contact either me ( or Zac (

ELLM Course and Program Updates for the Fall

Dear friends of the Executive LL.M. Program:

It has been an exciting and dynamic year. As was previously announced, the ELLM program is now a fully hybrid program, allowing practitioners the opportunity to complete their LL.M. studies without a residency requirement, should they so desire. We have already seen an increase in enrollments in our all-online courses as a result, and it is clear that current degree candidates are pleased that the always-flexible ELLM program is now even more so! After graduating a record number of 23 graduates in 2016, the ELLM has swelled with new enrollments. We just successfully completed our Summer Budapest session in June-July 2017, which marked our fifth year anniversary (you can visit our blog about our inaugural visit in 2013 to look back at our first year). There are also additional curricular enhancements in the works, which will be announced as they become more ‘ripe’ in the months ahead, and we will be announcing our 2018 course schedule shortly.

But there are still more changes underway. I must take this occasion to say a fond farewell to two of our long-time ELLM instructors, who are also full-time faculty members in the J.D. program: Professor Kevin Outterson, who teaches U.S. Corporate Law for the International Lawyer; and Professor Mark Pettit, who teaches U.S. Contract Law for the International Lawyer. Mark has taught with us since our inception in 2011, and Kevin for the past several years. My relationship with Mark goes back much further than that, as I have fond memories of his Contracts course as a 1L student at BU LAW in 1992 (seems a lifetime ago, but I still remember some of his songs). Both are leaving us after this latest iteration of their course in our Summer 2017 Boston residency session. Mark is retiring from the ELLM in order to spend more time with family, while Kevin takes on new responsibilities as the Executive Director of the recently-established CARB-X initiative housed at the School of Law. They have enlivened and enriched our curriculum through their commitment to first-rate teaching, their expertise, their good-natured senses of humor, and their dedication to the ELLM program, and I offer them both a fond farewell with best wishes on all their future endeavors. I am sure we will see them again as colloquium speakers.

Announcing their departure brings me to happier news, namely the new faculty who will be joining us: Professor David Walker will be joining the ELLM program and taking on the teaching of our Corporations course; while Professor Maria Hylton will be teaching Contracts. We will be introducing them more formally in the months ahead, but a few words of introduction are apropos now: David Walker is a Maurice Poch Faculty Research Scholar and is a recipient of both the BU LAW teaching award as well as Boston University’s highest teaching award, the Metcalf Award for Excellence in Teaching; his areas of research include corporate, business and transaction law; economics and law; and tax law. Maria Hylton, a full-time faculty member since 1988, is an expert on labor and benefits law and teaches Contracts in the J.D. program, among her other courses. Her areas of research interest include contracts, employment, ERISA, and labor law. Both are superlative teachers and academics, with wide-ranging expertise that make them first-rate additions to the ELLM teaching roster, and I am honored to welcome them to the ELLM family.

I also have the happy task of announcing a new ELLM course is in production, an all-online course in International Business Negotiation scheduled to be offered in Spring 2018. Taught by the newest member of the ELLM teaching faculty, Professor Robert Burdick, he brings a wealth of teaching and practical experience to the ELLM. Also a full-time member of the J.D. teaching faculty, Bob Burdick is the Director of BU’s Civil Litigation Program and also someone I have known for years. We will offer a separate introduction to his course in the coming months, but in the interim this should prove to be an exciting ‘teaser’ for all of our degree candidates interested in expanding their knowledge of Alternative Dispute Resolution skills, and should prove a potent adjunct to Phil D. O’Neill’s  popular International Arbitration course (see a previous blog entry on it here).

For more information on the ELLM curriculum, please visit our link here which will take you to that section of the BU Law website.

As always, please contact us at for more information, and thanks for reading!


ELLM Student Spotlight: 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.


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: 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:

This photo of Dr. Amer Al Homssi, taken by Peter, was published in the New Yorker:

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


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!