International Study Part 1: Students Study Law Globally Through Miami Law’s International Exchange Programs

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Jordan Samuels in China

Jordan Samuels in China

Jordan Samuels spent his Spring 2014 semester at Peking University School of Transnational Law in Shenzhen, China as part of Miami Law’s International Exchange Programs. He chose China because he felt that the American-Chinese relationship is the most important bilateral relationship of the 21st Century.

"China is growing economically at a rate and magnitude that the world has never seen before," said the 3L. "The Chinese people are going through an immense transition from a more rural based society to a hyper-competitive urbanized society and I was fascinated to learn about how that was impacting their culture."

For Samuels, the experience was compelling on a multitude of levels. He was struck by how kind and generous the Chinese people were; his student host and his classmates went out of their way to make him feel welcomed.

"I was treated like family," said the wiry 26-year-old from Weston, Florida. "Everyone was so nice, and the students genuinely wanted to learn more about me."

His U.S. Constitution Law II class presented a unique learning opportunity as he studied America law with his all-Chinese classmates from a closed society. "For them to learn about our Constitution and passionately ask questions about our founders and their principles made me feel extremely proud to be an American," Samuels said.

During the semester, he was able to travel around the country visiting Shanghai, Xi’an, which holds the Terracotta Clay Warriors, the picturesque karst landscape of Guilin and even a few weekends in Hong Kong. "It’s a 30-minute train ride away," he said. "It’s a lively city on the water with a breathtaking skyline, like New York."

Samuels made the most of his time in China, making friends (two of which, Kevin Wu and Rachel Wu, are coming to Miami Law to study in Spring 2015) and making inroads to a future that may include either working in Hong Kong or working in the U.S. for a Chinese company.

Since its inception, Miami Law’s International Exchange Program has involved almost 70 law students. Most partner schools offer programs in both Spring and Fall. At Fundaco Gettulio Vargas School of Law in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the housing is off-campus in a beachfront neighborhood. At the University College Dublin, in Ireland, the campus is located in the Roebuck Castle. In Madrid, there is a host family housing option.

Caitlin Hickey, J.D.’12, is an example of how the exchange program often influences students’ future paths. Hickey attended Berlin Free University, in Germany and participated in Miami Law’s Leipzig-Miami Seminar. After Miami Law, she went on to earn her LL.M. at the University College London from 2013-2014 where much of her coursework focused on comparative law and human rights.

Hickey is currently working at the University of Leipzig Faculty of Law as a research assistant for Dr. Hendrik Schneider, whose area of expertise is white-collar crime and compliance. "I assist in the development of a new open access e-journal that Dr. Schneider has created with Professor Michele DeStefano from UM," Hickey said. "It is called Compliance Elliance Journal (CEJ) and it focuses solely on current and cutting edge issues in the compliance field. I also help coordinate the Law Without Walls X Compliance and Miami-Leipzig seminars, which are both international programs in which the Leipzig law students participate.

"I have always wanted to work internationally and my ultimate career goal is to join the Foreign Service in the U.S. Department of State," Hickey said. "Participating in the Miami-Leipzig and Berlin exchange programs while I was a student at UM has opened many doors for me and was therefore the best decision of my academic career."

Sandy Abraham, who handles Miami Law’s semester exchanges, as well as Miami Law’s joint degree programs, sees these international semester exchange programs as an excellent opportunity for J.D. students to study law in an entirely different cultural and political setting.

"Most of these programs are in civil law countries, allowing our students to better understand this legal framework and its differences from common law," Abraham said. "This is especially useful for students who are interested in any type of comparative law, international law, and business law.

"We have four students studying away this semester and we will have six in spring semester, including four who will be studying at the School of Transnational Law of Peking University in Shenzhen," Abraham said. "In addition to the academic opportunity, studying in another county provides our students with cultural experiences and networking contacts that can be very useful as students move along their professional career paths."

The deadline for next fall semester is April 1st (with the exception of Bucerius Law School which is March 1st). Students should watch for an announcement of an International Semester Exchange Information session early next semester.

The experience can prove invaluable which is echoed by Hickey. "I was able to form long-lasting friendships and professional relationships that have helped me obtain work and academic opportunities abroad that I would not have had access to had I not chosen to do the exchange programs offered by UM."

Also see "International Exchange Part II: Foreign Students Join Miami Law for a Semester"