“It’s an extremely diverse group of students, yet they all have a few things in common,” says Charles D. Cramton, assistant dean for graduate legal studies. “They are the best and brightest, and all have been successful in both academics and practical experience. They are talented professionals who are drawn to Cornell for the breadth of the curriculum, the depth of the faculty, and the opportunity to be part of a small, close-knit academic community.”
Unlike advanced degree programs at many other schools, Cornell Law’s LL.M. program has no required classes. Working closely with their advisors, students design their own course of study, tailoring their work to meet their career goals, either in the United States or in their home countries, where the vast majority return. Alongside their colleagues in the J.D. program, they attend classes, host interuniversity conferences, participate in extracurricular activities, and build relationships that reach across national borders.
“Their presence makes an enormous contribution to the internationalization of the student body,” says Cramton. “The J.D. program and the advanced degree programs complement each other very well, and one of the benefits of our size is that students truly get to know one another. They create networks that will carry forward for the rest of their careers and learn how to function well anywhere in the world.”
After Cornell, some return to government, while others begin careers in academia, reshape their private practice, or shift their attention to public policy, international trade, environmental law, or human rights. Here, in these short profiles, past and present students talk about their experience in the advanced degree programs.
Parveet Singh Gandoak, LL.M. ’06 | India
At the start of 2011, Gandoak became an associate at Debevoise & Plimpton in Hong Kong having previously worked in the New York office of Dechert. Gandoak focuses his practice on private equity, mergers and acquisitions, and securities work, and is a member of the firm’s India practice group.
What were the advantages of attending Cornell Law?
Gandoak: By coming to Cornell, I gained a broad perspective on the American legal system, studying subjects like products liability, which is virtually unknown in my home country, as well as arbitration, trial advocacy, and international business transactions. In Stephen G. Yusem’s class on dispute resolution, students negotiated with one another on a regular basis, which was an excellent way to develop and refine the communication skills that have stood me well in my current legal practice.
Anna Dolidze (currently in J.S.D. program) | Georgia
Dolidze, who expects to complete her degree in 2012, has published articles on international human rights law, and human rights, including the right to property restitution of migrants.
How do you expect to use your Cornell Law degree?
Dolidze: My aspiration is to be a scholar and teach at a law school, and the J.S.D. program is giving me the best possible preparation to achieve that goal. Every class has been exceptional, and each professor has offered a unique way to expand my knowledge and framework of inquiry. They’re more than just great scholars—they’re personal role models and dedicated mentors who are passionate about sharing ideas, offering a great opportunity to gain both personally and professionally from their example. With a Cornell J.S.D., I can be confident in my training and ability to create and disseminate knowledge of law.
Luwam Dirar, LL.M. ’09 (currently in J.S.D. program) | Eritrea
An editor at the Cornell International Law Journal, Dirar is using her J.S.D. research to analyze the impact of economic partnership agreements on regional integration and development in southern Africa.
What have you enjoyed most about the Cornell Law community?
Dirar: The people. I’ve found the faculty and staff to be very accessible, caring, and supportive. The students are amazing, too. I have made lasting friendships with students from different backgrounds, and three of my closest friends are people I met at Cornell.
Seung Jin Oh, LL.M. ’04/J.S.D. ’08 | South Korea
After earning his J.S.D., Oh returned to Seoul, where he is currently a member of the international law faculty at Dankook University.
How did Cornell prepare you for teaching?
Oh: As a practicing lawyer in Korea, I had a lot of interest in learning more about contracts, constitutional law, and corporate law, but I also knew that I wanted to change from private practice to teaching. Taking classes in international law from John Barceló and Muna Ndulo expanded my view of the world and helped convince me to pursue teaching as a career. Attending Cornell had a huge impact on my life, and now, as a professor of international law and the director of the research department in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, [I find] their teaching continues to inspire me.
Lungisani Zulu, LL.M. ’11 | Zambia
Since completing his master’s degree in May 2011, Zulu has become a lecturer in international trade law at the University of Zambia School of Law.
Why did you choose Cornell Law?
Zulu: I have a passion for markets and international business law, so I was looking for a top U.S. school that could provide a wide variety of business law courses with the flexibility to design a curriculum that best suited my needs. When I checked out the Cornell Law website, I found it offered all that and much more. It emphasized the strong, supportive relationships between professors and students, and I fell in love with Cornell even before I was selected.
Nav Dayanand, LL.M. ’04 | India
As assistant director of federal affairs at the Wildlife Conservation Society, Dayanand is responsible for legislative analysis, advocacy, and outreach to Congress and the Administration on global environmental policy initiatives.
How has the LL.M. degree changed your life?
Dayanand: It brought me to this country and gave me a home. When I first arrived in Ithaca, my goal was to use my education to shape public policy. Since graduating in 2004, I have done just that. After starting as the director for government and public affairs at the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, a public health advocacy organization, I have chased my passion for environment issues. At the Wildlife Conservation Society, I am fortunate to be a legislative and policy liaison on international conservation and sustainable development. I truly love what I do and feel a debt of gratitude to Cornell for preparing me to use my education effectively.
Andrew Jerjian, LL.M. ’11 | Canada
In May, Jerjian was appointed to represent LL.M. graduates at the university’s commencement ceremony; in October, he begins work on a Bachelor of Civil Law degree at the University of Oxford.
What did Cornell Law offer outside the classroom?
Jerjian: Interacting with members of the Cornell Law community on an extracurricular basis was one of the highlights of my experience. During my year at Cornell Law, I was president of the LL.M. Association and worked with staff and students in organizing various activities. I was also a member of the Cornell International Law Journal, a challenging and rewarding commitment that enhanced my experience both academically and socially. Professors were always willing to assist and nurture the intellectual development of their students, and frequent guest lectures immersed me in thought-provoking discussions about a wide range of legal issues.
Marjorie M. Mpundu, LL.M. ’05 | Zambia
After five years in private practice and government service, Mpundu applied to Cornell’s LL.M. program; she now leads negotiations as senior counsel for the World Bank’s Africa practice group.
How did you create your curriculum?
Mpundu: I needed a program that would address issues facing developing countries like mine, so I built my studies around international legal practice. Given the freedom to structure my own program, I took classes in commercial arbitration, financial institutions, foreign direct investment, and international trade law, and completed my degree with a much deeper understanding of what international organizations do in developing countries.
Anat Alon-Beck, LL.M. ’06 (currently in J.S.D. program) | Israel
Currently living in Washington, D.C., Alon-Beck balances work on her doctoral thesis with a job as social media director for Dr. Michael B. Oren, Israeli ambassador to the United States.
After receiving your master’s degree, why did you return for a doctorate?
Beck: Cornell Law has already opened many doors for me in the United States and around the world, from working as a corporate associate for a leading firm in New York City to managing social media at the Israeli embassy. But my dream has always been to become a law professor, and with the J.S.D. degree, I hope to begin a career in the academy, where my writing can contribute to the greater body of knowledge and my teaching can help young scholars understand the intricacies of international legal issues.
Cheoljoon Chang, LL.M. ’05/J.S.D. ’08 | South Korea
Since 2009, Chang has been a professor at the College of Law, Handong University, in South Korea, where he teaches constitutional law and comparative international law.
Who were your most inspiring professors at Cornell?
Chang: My academic advisor, W. Bradley Wendel, imparted his knowledge of law and encouraged me in my academic achievements. As a prominent expert in professional responsibility, he was well-versed in legal philosophy, and his Philosophical Foundations of Legal Ethics was the most impressive class for me at Cornell. From Mitchel Lasser, Jack G. Clarke Professor of Law, I learned to view the two different legal systems, common law and continental law, in a balanced perspective. And in my own university course, Comparative Legal Systems, I continue to rely on the lessons learned in Bernadette Meyler’s History of Common Law.
Anne Claire Jamart, J.D./Maîtrise en Droit ‘04 (currently in J.S.D. program) | France
Before beginning work on her J.S.D., Jamart completed Cornell Law’s Franco-American Dual Law Degree Program, earning a Maîtrise en Droit from the Université Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne in Paris and a J.D. from Cornell.
Which of your extracurricular activities has been most rewarding?
Jamart: Last year, with three of my fellow J.S.D. students—Anna Dolidze, Esteban Hoyos, and Frank Zhang—we created the J.S.D. Association. Our faculty advisor is Dean Cramton, and our main goal is to provide opportunities for J.S.D. students to interact, share ideas, and review one another’s work. Essentially, we have created an intellectual community to serve as an incubator for new ideas in scholarship, offering workshops on issues related to research and career development, and raising awareness of the J.S.D. program within the Law School.
Noel Patrick Balaresque, LL.M. ’10 | Chile
After receiving his LL.M., Balaresque returned to Chile, where he is currently a senior associate focusing on corporate and maritime practice at Philippi, Yrarrázaval, Pulido & Brunner.
How did Cornell help shift your career?
Balaresque: Although it’s only been a little more than a year since I graduated, I believe my Cornell Law degree was one of the key factors that enabled my career path change, from in-house corporate counsel at a reefer chartering company to senior associate at a large Chilean law firm. My Cornell degree provided a combination of knowledge and skills that can be applied to a wide range of topics, added depth to my existing knowledge, and allowed me to better understand the needs of clients based in the United States.