Growth of LL.M. Practicum Broadens Opportunities for International Arbitration Students


Last year, the White & Case International Arbitration LL.M. program launched a new and exciting opportunity for its students to gain practical hands-on experience while studying – the International Arbitration LL.M. Practicum. The practicum, similar to an externship, allows students to obtain practical experience in the field of international arbitration with Miami-based law firms for academic credit while pursuing the LL.M. degree.

During the 2016/17 academic year, this sought-after program has grown, with 13 students having secured practicum placements with six participating firms, namely Astigarraga Davis and GST, DLA Piper, Hogan & Lovells, John H. Rooney, Jr., P.A., and Shutts & Bowen.

“My practicum at Shutts & Bowen had a substantial influence on my future career path,” said Russian student Madina Lokova. “I think that the practicum was a great practical experience. I am very thankful to the International Arbitration LL.M. Program for this priceless opportunity to get hands-on experience by working in the dispute resolution practice in a local law firm.”

Starting this fall, Lokova will be working as an attorney in White & Case’s Washington D.C. International Arbitration practice under Miami Law alumna and adjunct professor Carolyn Lamm

During the past Spring, Young ICCA Scholar Supritha Suresh also worked at Shutts & Bowen.  “One critical lesson I learnt during the practicum was that the arbitration process is not just about the law,” she said. “Sometimes, you have to get creative and think about how diplomatic or political pressure (within lawful and ethical boundaries) can also be exerted to make a matter turn your way. Hailing from India, the opportunity to research the political workings of the U.S. system was extremely interesting.”

Suresh worked at the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes in Washington, D.C. over the summer.

Bangladeshi student and International Arbitration Institute Scholar Nawazish Choudhury obtained a practicum in the Spring semester at Shutts & Bowen as well. Asked if he would recommend the practicum opportunity, he said “100% yes. Shutts has a lot of international arbitration work, but in a small and friendly supportive environment. This means that interns can be given roles that have a positive impact on a case. This is a wonderful place to get a thorough grounding in arbitration.”

This fall he will be working as an attorney in White & Case’s Washington D.C. International Arbitration Practice.

Student Desislava Docheva, an International Arbitration Institute Scholar who hails from Bulgaria and Canada, worked at Hogan Lovells during the Spring and is now continuing to work at Hogan as a law clerk. She found the practicum especially valuable “to see how a big international firm operates in real life.”

Dean’s Merit Scholar Frank Carrasco worked at DLA Piper during his practicum. “I had to work on real issues, which gave me insight into the day to day problems in international arbitration, which helped with my understanding of the materials covered in my classes.”

International Arbitration Institute Scholar Santiago Daniel Paniagua Gutierrez, who hails from Argentina and Bolivia, worked at Astigarraga Davis this past spring. “It is an invaluable experience,” said Gutierrez on his practicum. “The experience shows you how the real work is, the needs in international arbitration, and it helps you to see which skills you still need to improve in order become a more competent practitioner.”

GST LLP, a Miami-based international arbitration boutique fim, hired Miami Law student Jose Eduardo Ponce Ayala, during the spring semester. “Since I already had experience working in international arbitration, most of what I learned at GST is how much different the work environment is in a firm based on the U.S., to one based in Latin America,” he said. “Work is done on time, however, there is much more collaborative atmosphere, and everyone seems to be helping each other out. The practicum afforded me the opportunity to work in academic projects, as well as real-life cases. It was well-balanced.”

Australian student Tanya Shankar worked at Shutts & Bowen during her practicum in the fall, and is continuing to work there as a contract attorney.  “I gained a valuable glimpse into what working as an attorney here in the U.S. entails and undertook substantial legal research.”

The International Arbitration LL.M. Program intends to further expand the practicum opportunities for its students in the upcoming semesters.  Additionally, students may pursue more traditional externship opportunities through Miami Law’s Career Development Office.

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