Recently, Miami Law’s Career Development Office, International Arbitration and International Law LL.M. Programs jointly hosted a Virtual Career Luncheon for LL.M. and J.D./LL.M. Joint Degree students on legal employment in the time of COVID-19.
The panel discussion featured four distinguished speakers representing different employment sectors: Pedro Freyre, J.D. ‘75, Akerman, Chair, International Practice; Daniel González, J.D. ‘88, Hogan Lovells, Partner and Global Head of International Arbitration Practice; Adriana Kostencki, J.D. ‘10, Co-founder, Nelles Kostencki; and Andres Williamson, Microsoft, Head of Legal for Microsoft Latin America. The panel was moderated by Miami Law’s Associate Dean for International and Graduate Law Programs and Professor of Law Caroline Bradley. Yazmyne Vasquez Eterovic, Associate Director for Career Development & Advisor for International LL.M. Programs, provided helpful information and resources that students and graduates can use moving forward with their job search, how to stay active in the legal community, and stressed the importance of being patience, flexible and creative during this pandemic.
The speakers provided invaluable advice for the students on short-term and long-term employment strategies. Pedro Freyre, who is a Miami Law alum and teaches Cuba Law and Policy as an adjunct professor emphasized that “this crisis has afforded a proof of concept for remote work on an industry wide basis; I believe it will prove to be a pivotal moment in history and on how legal services will be provided going forward.” Akerman recently hired a graduate of the J.D./LL.M. in International Law as a Partner and a graduate of the International Arbitration LL.M. as a member of the firm’s international disputes team.
Andres Williamson noted how the current public health crisis will result in an increased and sustained use of technology in the future.
“COVID-19 has dramatically changed how we live, and perhaps it will forever transform how legal professionals will work. Disruption imposed by the pandemic will accelerate digital transformation in law firms and legal departments, creating new business models, enhancing opportunities for working remotely, reducing operational costs for organizations, improving work-life balance, and changing how certain legal services are going to be provided,” said Williamson. "Technology will also assist legal professionals with many mundane tasks, enabling legal professionals to focus on high valued legal services scenarios.”
Microsoft has partnered with Miami Law’s International & Graduate Law Programs for the past 15 years to hire our foreign-trained LLM. students for a year-long legal trainee program. Many former legal trainees are still working at Microsoft not only in the U.S., but also in many countries throughout Latin America.
Daniel González, who also is a Miami Law alum and serves as an Adjunct Professor in Miami Law’s White & Case International Arbitration LL.M. Program where he teaches a 2-semester skills-based simulation course on international arbitration proceedings, explained how international arbitration practice in particular had quickly adapted to the realities of the current public health crisis, by for instance switching to virtual hearings. Daniel commented that “this course gave the students an opportunity to first-hand experience virtual hearings in a way that many practicing lawyers are still just talking about.” Daniel also said that “these changes may permanently alter the legal service industry and thus provide current students with valuable opportunities to build skills that will be in great demand in the future.” Hogan Lovells’ Miami Office also participates in Miami Law’s International Arbitration LL.M. Practicum Program, offering students the opportunity to get first-hand practical experience in the international arbitration field, and has hired Miami Law LL.M. graduates.
Adriana Kostencki, who also is a Miami Law alumna, encouraged students to be curious to explore new areas of legal practice and to continue to build their network during these challenging times. “If you are a foreign LL.M. student, you should reach out to other LL.M. graduates and attorneys from your country of origin. I am originally from Venezuela, and I regularly chat with law students from Venezuela who reach out to me with questions,” says Kostencki. “As the President of the Venezuelan American Bar Association, I also regularly receive resumes or inquiries from other law students from Venezuela who want to establish certain connections with the legal community in the U.S.”
The panel discussion was very well received by students who appreciated the wealth of advice. International Arbitration LL.M. student and Young ICCA Scholar Daria Kuznetsova from Russia says, “As a student graduating this Spring I find myself in a very unusual situation. It is important to have an opportunity to discuss our concerns. This virtual career luncheon was very encouraging. We received first-hand advice from employers as to what to expect in the legal marketplace going forward and how to improve our professional credentials during this time of social distancing.” Veronica Orantes, a J.D./LL.M. in International Law student hailing from Guatemala, added, “While attending law school during these unprecedented times, the advice and guidance of experienced attorneys like the panelist becomes necessary. It was reassuring to listen to their insight and perspective on law firm hiring processes and planning through the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“We are always grateful when distinguished members of the Miami legal community share their time and expertise with the Law School Community, and particularly now when we are all facing unusual challenges," said Bradley. "The panelists’ reminder that challenging times can also be times of opportunity is a useful one.”