ELLM Congratulates Alum for Being Named One of Denver’s “40 Under 40″

40u402015winnerslogoweb-600The Executive LL.M. Program is very pleased to offer congratulations to one of our recent graduates, Erik Estrada (ELLM ’14), who was named one of Denver Business Journal’s (DBJ) “40 Under 40“. The award is presented by the DBJ to recognize an elite group of men and women, in different professional fields, for their “commitment to community and business leadership.”

While Erik deserves full credit for this award based on his dedication to the City of Denver, his public service and his high level of legal professionalism, he was quick to share it with the ELLM program. “The education that I received from Boston University’s Executive LL.M. Program, one of the best such programs in the world, has helped me become an emerging leader for my company. The subject matter covered in the curriculum was directly applicable to my day-to-day duties as Senior Corporate Counsel.”  As part of his studies in the ELLL, Erik had taken courses that included Securities Regulation, International Business Transactions and Agreements, International Arbitration, Corporate Finance, and several tax courses. In addition to the well-rounded curriculum, professional networking opportunities and flexible scheduling options, Erik says he was attracted to BU’s program because of BU Law’s “long-standing commitment to public service, and the fact that it strives to instill such commitment in its students. This commitment is a passion of mind as well, and accordingly I try to give back to the communities in which I live and work by serving on various non-profit boards.”

Erik serves as Senior Corporate Counsel for Level 3 Communications, a Fortune 500 Company, since 2012. Previously, he was employed at Davis Graham & Stubbs LLP and served as Senior Fellow and Program Director of El Pomar Foundation, a general grant-making foundation that supports a wide range of initiatives in Colorado. In addition to the LL.M. from BU, he holds a J.D. from University of Denver College of Law, where he was named a Chancellor’s Scholar;  an M.P.A. from University of Colorado School of Public Affairs, where he was named the Outstanding M.P.A. Student; and a B.A. from University of Colorado at Boulder. He serves, or has served on the board of directors of El Pomar Foundation, University of Colorado Alumni Association, Tony Grampsas Fund (appointed by Governor Bill Ritter), Community Resource Center, and the Colorado Center on Law & Policy.

Again, congratulations Erik on this well-deserved award!

For more information on the ELLM program, please contact us or visit our website.


Let’s Take a Sober Look at the End of Sanctions on Cuba and Iran

Prof. Babak Boghraty

Prof. Babak Boghraty

Babak Boghraty specializes in U.S. laws governing business conduct overseas, including anti-corruption and sanctions. He brings two decades of combined legal and business experience to this field, having assisted global enterprises extend their presence to the most inaccessible markets.

Professor Boghraty currently teaches a course in the Executive LL.M. program that focuses on managing compliance risks for international business networks. (Full bio). This is his first guest blog for the ELLM program:

In the course of 2015, we will likely witness the dismantling of economic sanctions against two longstanding US foes: Cuba and Iran – without a reciprocal commitment on human rights or democratic reforms.  The Obama administration reasons that integrating these nations into the global economy will be more effective in bringing about positive change in their governments than embargoes and isolation.

The prospects of a return to these markets has electrified western investors and raised hopes in both countries for a better future.  But in reality, this time is fraught with risk for all involved – for Cuba and Iran; for western businesses ready for the mad dash into these frontiers; and, for US credibility.

Consider Iran, the larger of the two markets.  After more than three decades of economic isolation, it ranks 136 out of 174 on Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index.  Most of Iran’s economy is owned or controlled by the government and the ruling elite, and it lacks market-oriented institutions like a transparent regulatory system, sophisticated accounting and banking profession, effective legal and judiciary system or a broad-based tax system. Given these conditions, an abrupt and massive injection of foreign capital and technology into Iran’s economy is unlikely to inure to the long-term benefit of its public — let alone advance human rights or good governance.  Judging from past experience in other emerging markets like Russia and China, globalization and rapid growth will tend to increase the wealth and power of the ruling elite at the expense of the environment and the social fabric.

The risk is no less foreboding for the first wave of businesses to brave the Iranian market.  For the last decade, global efforts to combat corruption have focused on multinational business as the source of the problem.  Members of the Organization of Economic Development and Cooperation (OECD) – the origin of most of the funds invested in emerging markets — have all enacted anti-corruption laws that severely restrict dealings with foreign officials and state-controlled entities.  The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), for example, casts a wide net — holding multinational businesses liable not only for the corrupt conduct of their employees and subsidiaries, but also their local affiliates and collaborators.

The blurred lines in Iran between government and private business, the opaque regulatory system and the lack of access to reliable information will challenge western companies’ ability to manage their FCPA risk.  As some commentators have observed, such elevated FCPA risk may ultimately deter Western investors, acting as de facto sanctions.  Such an outcome would pave the way for the so-called “dark knights”–investors from countries who do not subscribe to the West’s anti-corruption agenda.

Finally, US interests are at risk.  As the Obama administration’s rhetoric suggests, the US is retooling its foreign policy by reducing its reliance on blunt tools like embargoes in favor of more subtle tools like the FCPA, targeted sanctions and export controls.  While the new “soft” tools conveniently shift the burden of advancing US policy to the private sector, their efficacy remains unproven.  The course of events in Cuba and Iran after sanctions will not only test these new tools but also US credibility.

In sum, though it may be tempting to fall for the hope and euphoria generated by the talk of ending sanctions, this moment calls for sobriety.  The outlined risks can only be mitigated if: 1) the US and other OECD members remain focused on using their new policy tools like the FCPA to prevent misallocation of Western capital and technology; and 2) global businesses and investors avoid a rush and deliberately channel their resources in a manner that protects their Cuban and Iranian stakeholders; and, at the same time, discharges their legal obligations.

All best,

Babak Boghraty

Happy Holidays from the ELLM, and a New Addition to the Curriculum!

Dear friends of BU and the Executive LL.M. program:

XMAS-Terrier[1]As the year draws to a close, we take a moment to reflect on another successful year and share our gratitude towards everyone who has helped us continue to grow the ELLM. Our first “fall online” session proved very popular and allows us to further enhance our curricular flexibility and depth through the addition of an all-online version of International Business Transactions and Agreements, as well as two well-received new courses, Managing Compliance Risks for International Business Networks and Deals.

A generous donor and supporter of the ELLM allowed us to offer entrance scholarships for the first time, improving our capacity to build the program further.  Looking forward, we have a revamped version of Securities Regulation in production, and a new course in Transnational Legal Practice, both to be offered in 2015.

I also wish to take this opportunity to mention a new academic offering, available starting in January: a Directed Study!  For those of you who are particularly interested in a special area of study, or wish to undertake further studies after BU (such as a Ph.D. or SJD), the Directed Study will allow you to write a research paper under the supervision of a BU Law faculty member for 1-3 credits. This may prove particularly helpful to you if you wish to write an article that will form the basis of a publication or thesis. It may also be of benefit if you find yourself a few credits short of your requirements for degree completion. Only one Directed Study may be taken as part of the ELLM, and it requires the written permission of the Director as well as a qualified instructor (which will be chosen in tandem with our office). For more information on the course, please visit our curriculum section of the website, or email us at execllm@bu.edu.  We hope that some of you will find this to be an exciting and relevant addition to your ELLM studies.

There are also some very exciting new developments for the ELLM that I look forward to announcing to you in the near future, once all of the approvals are concluded– but that will have to wait for the New Year! As always, we are thankful for your referrals, your enthusiasm for our program, and most of all for being part of our community. While I take a respite from creating my “legal facts of the week”  until January, here is a seasonal favorite from my blog at www.iancpilarczyk.com, from 2011, entitled “Of Christmas Caroling, Extortion, and Mistletoe“. By the way, if you ever have ideas you wish to share for topics, please do send them along!

We wish you and yours a wonderful and joyous holiday season, and all the best in 2015!

How the Executive LL.M. Helped One Student Seize a Big Opportunity

suarezAlvaro is a Colombian attorney with more than 15 years of experience in commercial law. He specializes in regulatory and compliance matters in the telecommunications industry. He has held senior positions at Claro Colombia, AT&T Latin America, and Level 3 Communications. He is currently the Senior Legal Counsel & Compliance Director at Fenoco.

Alvaro earned his Master of Laws at Universita Degli Studi Roma Tor Vergata in Rome, Italy.

I began my Executive LL.M. at BU back in the summer of 2013, when I was legal director at Level 3 Communications. Based in Bogota Colombia, I was in charge of the Andean Cluster, which is comprised of Colombia, Venezuela, and Ecuador. I was also the regulatory affairs leader for Latin America. While my responsibilities were closely tied to the geographic region, I was also often tasked with negotiating deals with U.S. customers for services in Latin America.

The combination of my Executive LL.M. degree and my experience with international transactions led me to apply for the position of Senior Legal Counsel & Compliance Director at Fenoco. Fenoco is the Colombian entity of an international conglomerate formed by Drummond Inc, Glencore Plc, and Goldman Sachs. The position was a reach for me, as the range of responsibilities I would be undertaking was a significant step up from my position as legal director at Level 3 Communications. Nonetheless, I felt confident in my abilities.

After a lengthy hiring process, I was ultimately selected for the position of Senior Legal Counsel & Compliance Director. In speaking with the hiring manager and the general counsel (both Americans), I was informed that my international experience in combination with my Executive LL.M. at BU were the determining factors in Fenoco’s hiring decision. Specifically, they wanted someone with experience and education not only in Latin America, but also in the United States. My position would involve dealing with international business transactions across both civil and common law jurisdictions, so a solid foundation in both legal systems was essential.

In establishing my knowledge of the relevant international business laws, I was able during the interview process to speak with specificity to the legal frameworks, concepts, and transactions that I was familiar with due to ELLM courses such as Contracts, Corporations, and Deals. My knowledge in these subject matters ultimately gave me the edge over the other candidates.

As Senior Legal Counsel & Compliance Director in the mining and coal industry, I am currently facing an enormous (and welcome) challenge from a legal and regulatory perspective. I am also the lead decision maker regarding environmental issues, social corporate responsibility, international contractual strategy with customers & suppliers, and compliance issues related to all three parent companies. These challenges will surely test me in the years to come, and I’m very thankful to the ELLM faculty and staff for the helping me seize such a meaningful opportunity.


The Law in Practice: International Arbitration

JoseLuisFinocchio2Guest Post by José Luis Finocchio Junior. José is a Brazilian lawyer currently based in São Paulo, Brazil. He is a founding partner at Finocchio e Ustra Sociedade de Advogados. José’s practice is primarily focused on M&A and contract law. He joined the Executive LL.M. program at Boston University School of Law in the spring of 2014 and is scheduled to graduate after the fall 2014 semester.

No matter the stage of your career, as lawyer you’ll always have opportunities to challenge yourself in new ways.

I’m a named partner at a mid-size corporate firm in Brazil, and last week I attended my first international arbitration hearing. While I’m no stranger to domestic (Brazilian) arbitration hearings, I had never defended a Brazilian client in an international arbitration hearing.

This past year I took a course on International Arbitration as part of the Executive LL.M. in International Business Law that I’m earning at Boston University School of Law. The class was taught by Philip D. O’Neill, a partner at Edwards Wildman in Boston who has over 30 years of experience with cross-border arbitration and litigation.

The practical advice and substantive knowledge I gained in this class gave me a lot of confidence walking into my first international arbitration session at a tribunal that is part of the European Chamber of Commerce in Brazil. I was representing a Brazilian client and was up against an American company.

In Brazil, despite the rapid growth of arbitration as a means for conflict resolution, the know-how in conducting an arbitration hearing is not yet fully developed.  In fact, a growing trend is the “litigationization” of the arbitration process. Nonetheless, with the ELLM International Arbitration course fresh in my mind, one of the first things I did was investigate whether there were any connections between the arbitrators and the opposing counsel. Connections among the arbitrators and the parties, whether personal or professional, may be the basis for requesting different arbitrators or even vacating a decision.

Much to the pleasure of my client, I discovered that one of the nominated arbitrators was, and continues to be, a partner at the same firm the opposing counsel worked at as an associate. This relationship was absent from the declaration of impartiality and independence. Given that the rules for replacing the arbitrator were not clear, Professor O’Neill’s practical teachings helped me in choosing the appropriate opportunity and moment to manage this situation, especially in light of the fact that the potential bias could be grounds for challenging the arbitration award.

Needless to say, I have been able to use the existence of that relationship as a bargaining chip in our negotiations, and it’s looking like that added pressure may get my client an even more favorable deal.

It’s always satisfying to be able to turn lessons learned into successful professional experiences. The above is just one example of how valuable and inspiring continuing legal education can be.

~ José

Your Halloween Legal Fact of the Week

Ian Pilarczyk, the director of the Executive LL.M. in International Business Law, started publishing historic legal facts back in February of 2008. Dr. Pilarczyk, who specializes in legal history and comparative law, explains the idiosyncrasies of the law through looking back at the historical context of the more curious and sometimes hard to believe legal facts.

Below is a sampling of Dr. Pilarczyk’s weekly legal facts, beginning (in honor of Halloween) with “Suing Satan!”.

Suing Satan!

GustaveDoreParadiseLostSatanProfileIn 1971 a plaintiff filed a pauper’s suit in U.S. District Court, on behalf of himself and all other similarly situated, against Satan and his servants. Plaintiff alleged that Satan had “threatened him, caused him misery, impeded his course in life, and generally precipitated his downfall”.

His suit was unsuccessful, the court denying him relief on the grounds that … [read more…]


The Origins of “Passing the Bar”bar

One question that I am asked from time to time has to do with the origins of the expression “passing the bar”. A common assumption is that there is some connection with admission to the legal profession and the ancient relationship between lawyers and taverns.

This has some plausibility as courts in the medieval and Elizabethean eras were not infrequently held in public places, including taverns (but also including churches, town and meeting halls, and the like). However much the public may enjoy the putative connection between the legal profession and alcoholic libations, however, this is not the true origin of the term. [read more…]



scoffThe word scofflaw, while often thought to be of ancient origin, was actually created through a contest held in 1921. A wealthy banker in Quincy, MA sponsored a contest offering $200 to anyone who coined a word to describe people who violated Prohibition.

The winning entry met with nearly-universal disapproval, and was satirized in cartoons appearing in the New York Tribune–which ironically gave it a national audience. [read more…]


csiThe CSI Effect

The so-called CSI Effect–named after the hit TV show CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and its progeny–refers to the theory that these shows have an impact on real juries in criminal cases.

In them, highly-trained lab specialists with limitless budgets and the newest technology find a great deal of trace and other evidence that they able to quickly, reliably and objectively analyze to identify the guilty culprit, because “the evidence never lies.” [read more…]

Scholarships Now Available for New Applicants to the ELLM!

Thanks to a generous donation recently received by the Executive LL.M. program at Boston University, we are now able to offer a number of partial-tuition scholarships to eligible applicants. The gift, from a supporter of the ELLM who wishes to remain anonymous, comes at a propitious time for the ELLM program. “The availability of scholarships is one more step in our aspiration to be the leading Executive LL.M. program, and will aid us further in attracting highly-qualified practitioners from around the world”, said ELLM director Dr. Ian C. Pilarczyk. “We are already fortunate to have students from nearly forty countries and five continents, but this gift will allow us to further enhance our global reach.”

Knowing the donor as he does, Pilarczyk is not at all surprised that he wished to remain anonymous. “The fact that we are able to offer these scholarships at all is thanks entirely to a gift from one of our most generous supporters–generous in terms of financial support, certainly, but also in terms of the many other ways in which he supports the activities of the ELLM”, explained Pilarczyk. “He is inspirational, and we treasure having him as part of the Boston University family. I am sure he will be thrilled with the results of his gift.”

Not only do these funds provide the ELLM office with another tool to recruit qualified applicants to the program, but it also fits another strategic goal of the ELLM office. “We have had a number of inquiries from graduates and friends of the ELLM, asking how they can best support the program financially. This gift allows us to set up a scholarship fund, to which other donors may also contribute, so that we can pool their donations and grow our ability to support ELLM students over time”, says Pilarczyk.

This landmark gift, which will support multiple partial-tuition scholarships, will be awarded on the basis of need and will be limited to new applicants to the ELLM. For potential applicants interested in applying for a scholarship, please visit our website here or email our office at execllm@bu.edu. If you are interested in supporting the ELLM Scholarship Fund in any amount, please contact the ELLM office and we will be more than happy to provide you with further information.

Upwards and onwards!

ELLM Announces New Online Course in Transnational Legal Practice!

I am thrilled to announce that, beginning in fall 2015, the ELLM program will feature a new addition to our electives– an exciting new course called Transnational Legal Practice. Offered in an all-online format in our fall online semester, this course will further expand curricular flexibility as well as provide a practical immersion in an area of  great relevance to many practitioners engaged in cross-border transactions. The course is designed and taught by Professor Dennis Campbell, Director of the Center for International Legal Studies in Salzburg, Austria (one of our ELLM partner institutions, along with Lazarski University in Poland and ELTE Law School in Hungary), in tandem with his son, Christian Campbell. Dennis is well-known to our students who have attended the Budapest sessions and to many others due to his international prominence as a legal educator of the highest caliber. He is also a lecturer at BU Law and the newest addition to the teaching roster of the ELLM (you can see his profile here). Christian is also a highly-experienced international law expert who serves as Permanent Secretary of the International Business Law Consortium in Salzburg and who for the past seventeen years has served as Assistant Director of CILS.

It is also my pleasure at this time to welcome Dennis as a ‘guest blogger’ to share his thoughts on the course. In his words:

Prof. Dennis Campbell

Prof. Dennis Campbell

“One might ask why this course is called Transnational Legal Practice rather than International Legal Practice. The choice of terms is intentional, albeit perhaps arbitrary.Traditionally, the term ‘international’ has referred to legal relationships among nation states. As the world’s economy became more globalized, a process that traces to the end of World War II, so also did the work of lawyers who followed clients across borders, who welcomed foreign clients to their home offices, who increasingly interacted with practitioners from other jurisdictions, and who challenged the usual notion of how foreign lawyers were to be regulated. Is the American who flies to Paris to meet with clients ‘practicing law’ in France? Is the Massachusetts lawyer who provides legal services in Massachusetts for Dutch clients an ‘international’ lawyer? Is the Budapest office of an American law firm, populated only by Hungarian lawyers, really an ‘American’  law office? These questions suggest that an umbrella broader than that provided by International Legal Practice is required.”

“The common element in transnational legal practice is cross-border interaction. Someone or some transaction has left the home jurisdiction to provide or receive legal services in a foreign jurisdiction – and perhaps multiple foreign jurisdictions. ‘Transnational law’ has a variety of meanings, and some scholars have suggested that it is a new discipline of law, standing in equality with the traditional disciplines of international law and comparative law. It has been defined as a body of law — whether national, international or mixed — that applies to persons, business, and governments acting or having influence across national borders.In Transnational Legal Practice, we will not be much concerned with theory. The focus will be on the practical elements of the lawyer ‘doing business abroad’, and our anchors will be the cross-border nature of the practice and the regulatory elements that affect it.”

I am sure that many of you will agree that this course is a worthwhile addition to our already-robust curriculum. The syllabus as well as a course description can be found on our website in the curriculum section. Thank you, Dennis, for taking the time to introduce your course to us (and for developing and teaching it, bien sûr)–it’s great to have you and Christian join the ELLM faculty!

All the best,




BU Law Hosts Visiting Chinese Law Students

Chinese law students visiting Moakley Courthouse as part of the BU Law Workshop in American Law, July 2014.

Chinese law students visiting Moakley Courthouse as part of the BU Law Workshop in American Law, July 2014.

From July 17th to July 24th, Boston University School of Law hosted a group of 25 Chinese law students for a custom-tailored summer program. This Workshop on American Law was organized by our Executive LL.M. office, and featured nine lectures on a variety of American subjects: Intro to American Law and Introduction to Alternative Dispite Resolution (taught by Executive LLM director Ian C. Pilarczyk); Intro to Civil Procedure and Intro to Securities Regulation (Prof. David Webber); Constitutional Law (Prof. Jay Wexler); Contracts (Prof.  Mark Pettit); Property and IP (Prof. Stacey Dogan); Case Law and Legal Reasoning (Tibby Cail, Esq.); and Intro to Bankruptcy Law (Zachary Smith, LAW ’03, partner at Moore & VanAllen in New York City.). The students came from a number of top-ranked Chinese schools, including Beijing University, Beijing Foreign Studies University, China University of Policial Science and Law, and Liaoning University. The Workshop concluded with a field-trip to the Moakley U.S. District Courthouse, lunch and a presentation on the life cycle of U.S. ligitation by Mary-Pat Cormier, ELLM instructor and partner at Bowditch & Dewey in Boston; and a farewell dinner at the Elephant Walk Restaurant in Brookline. This is the fourth such Workshop organized by the ELLM office in conjunction on behalf of the U.S.-China Legal Exchange Foundation (UCLEF) since 2011.

A Successful Return Visit from Chungnam National University Law School

Chungnam students divide into groups of 3 for a mediation role play in Dr. Pilarczyk's class.

Chungnam students divide into groups of 3 for a mediation role play in Dr. Pilarczyk’s class.

The office of the Executive LL.M. Program recently welcomed a small but spirited group of second year law students from Chungnam National University in Daejeon, South Korea. As part of our portfolio of special programs, which we offer every year, we hosted 9 students and their chaperone Professor John Kong (LAW ’92) for a customized three-day workshop in American Law. The first two days of the program consisted of four mini-courses: Introduction to Civil Procedure (Prof. David Webber); Introduction to Criminal Procedure (Prof. David Breen); Introduction to International Law (Prof. Emeritus Daniel Partan); and Introduction to Alternative Dispute Resolution (taught by myself). These courses offered the Korean students some exposure to the American style of legal instruction, including the Socratic method. In the ADR course we engaged in a number of interactive exercises, including two mediation and negotiation ‘role plays’. While none of them had participated in these types of exercises before, and despite English not being their native language, they seemed very enthusiastic about the new experience!

The final day of the workshop featured a field trip to a local court and law firm. Our first stop was the U.S. District Court located in the beautiful John Joseph Coakley U.S. Courthouse, a striking landmark building opened in 1998 that features striking Boston Harbor views and public galleries. Following a guided tour of the building, our students were able to meet with a U.S. Judge Magistrate and attend a bail hearing, but even more noteworthy was the chance to hear some of the testimony in the trial of Azamat Tazhayakov, one of three friends of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev charged with obstruction of justice and conspiracy related to their alleged removal of evidence from Tsarnaev’s dorm room after the Boston Marathon bombing.  We then had lunch at the firm of Bowditch & Dewey, where we were hosted by Mary-Pat Cormier, partner specializing in business and insurance litigation, who gave a detailed presentation on the “Life Cycle of Litigation: From Filing to Appeal”. The field trip concluded with a farewell dinner at (appropriately enough) Legal Sea Foods in the Prudential Center.

In between their law-related activities, the students also took in a “duck tour” of the downtown and a Red Sox game against Chicago, no doubt resulting in many pleasant memories of their time here in Boston. This marked the third such visit by students from Chungnam since 2012. As always, our thanks go to Prof. Kong for acting as chaperone and facilitating the visit.

ELLM Director Ian C. Pilarczyk talks with a student from Chungnam University

ELLM Director Ian C. Pilarczyk talks with a student from Chungnam University