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Where are they now? A Sampling of Recent LL.M. Graduates Working in the U.S.

October 22, 2014 | Alumni

Students from all over the world come to Moritz College of Law’s Master of Laws (LL.M.) program with the goal of deepening their knowledge of U.S. Law and legal systems – and advancing their careers.

The one-year program, which integrates the LL.M. students into the J.D. curriculum and allows students an opportunity to select their courses from a rich variety of options, has a proven track record of leading to increased professional opportunities in the U.S. and overseas. While many students complete their LL.M. degrees and return to their home countries, others decide to participate in the Summer Oxford Program at the University of Oxford in England. A few others decide to take an American Bar and get some work experience in the U. S. Here are a few of the recent LL.M. alumni success stories in the U.S.:

Reking Chen LL.M. ’14

“One of the most attractive things about Moritz’s LL.M. program is that students are allowed to tailor the courses based on their personal goals and interests,” said Reking Chen.            

After working at top international firms and a Chinese law firm for six years, the Beijing native enrolled at Moritz to improve his legal English, broaden his legal knowledge, sharpen his skills as an international lawyer, and gain a more comprehensive understanding of human rights and intellectual property issues.

Almost immediately after setting foot on campus, he discovered that “Moritz is a big family. People are so close to each other,” he said, adding “I did not feel separated being a foreigner. On the contrary, I think I was well accepted by the family and melted into the Moritz culture.”

Currently, Chen works at Jones Day’s Cleveland office, focusing on American and international intellectual property issues. He may eventually return to China, he said, but for now he enjoys “working closely with one of the best legal teams in the country,” and furthering his professional training.

Wanli Luo LL.M. ’14            

When Wanli Luo was a student working toward her Bachelor in Law degree from the Xiangtan University in China, her criminal law professor told her about the LL.M. program at Moritz. After graduation, she jumped on the opportunity to study in the U.S. and experience two very different legal systems.

“The LL.M. program was such a great opportunity for me,” she said. “It brought me to the U.S. and gave me a totally new life and career in Columbus. And I am more familiar with the U.S. legal system than before.”

She credits weekly brown bag meetings with fellow students and faculty with helping deepen her understanding of American legal issues – knowledge that has come in handy in her job working for the Columbus law firm of Bergman & Yiangou, where she is responsible for bankruptcy cases.

Luo, who is from Changsha in China’s Hunan Province, plans to stay in the U.S. for a year or two, but since her family is still in China, she will eventually return there – and bring everything she’s learned from her time in the U.S. with her.

Jad Rizk LL.M. ’14

Before enrolling at Moritz, Jad Rizk, of Keserouan Kfarhabab, Lebanon, received his law degree and a joint master’s degree in public law from the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik in Lebanon in 2012. He also worked as a legal trainee at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon in the Netherlands.            

“Moritz’s LL.M. program is a must for someone who wants to understand the American legal system. It is totally worth it if you plan to stay in the U.S or become an expert in a specific field,” Rizk said. “I wouldn’t have been able to launch my career here if it wasn’t for the LL.M. degree.”            

Rizk is currently studying to take the New York bar exam, in February, while working as an intake counselor at the city prosecutor’s office in Columbus. Intake officers process criminal misdemeanor complaints and then make appropriate referrals, so Rizk spends his days interviewing victims of recent crimes, gathering evidence, presenting the complaint to the prosecutor for a probable cause determination and filing misdemeanor charges.            

“I always wanted to work in the criminal law field, so it’s a perfect start,” he said of the job.

Ana Cristina Santiesteban Gutiérrez LL.M.’14

Ana Cristina Santiesteban Gutiérrez, from San Pedro, Nuevo Leon, Mexico, said that earning her LL.M. at Moritz has given her “a better understanding of the U.S. legal system, which is a competitive advantage now that lawyers who want to have an international practice need to familiarize themselves with multiple legal systems.”            

The LL.M. program, she added, “also allowed me to specialize in a specific field of study like business law, which prepared me to understand legal business matters and be able to participate in complex international transactions.”

Prior to attending Moritz, she worked as an attorney in a corporate law firm that also served as a commercial notary in Monterrey, Mexico. Currently, she works at the Columbus immigration law firm of Slowik & Robinson LLC, where she serves as a simultaneous interpreter from Spanish to English, translating official foreign documents, preparing appropriate forms regarding client matters before the Department of Homeland Security, responding to requests for evidence made by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, conducting legal research, and drafting correspondence to clients.            

Like Rizk, she is also studying for the New York bar exam, and said she hopes to remain in the U.S. for a few years, practicing immigration law, before possibly opening her own corporate law firm in Mexico one day.

Adriana Casafont Ortiz LL.M. ’14

“I have a lot of good memories with my friends and professors at Moritz, but the best one was what I felt my first day of classes, waiting for International Law to start. At that moment I realized that all my efforts, and parents’ economical support to come to the U.S., weren’t worthless. I was starting a new stage in my professional career and I remember feeling a deep sense of gratitude,” Adriana Casafont Ortiz said.

Before coming to Moritz, Casafont Ortiz earned her law degree from the University of Costa Rica in 2011 and then worked as a courtroom clerk for the Constitutional Court, Supreme Court of Costa Rica. She learned about Moritz’s LL.M. program while visiting her old friend – now her husband – in Ohio, and called her decision to enroll “the best decision of my life.”

The program, she said, opened her up to “a vast variety of job and academic opportunities in the U.S. and also helped me to improve my English, and self-confidence in an English-speaking environment.”

Now, Casafont Ortiz works at the Columbus law firm of Cooper & Elliot, where she has been assigned to a specific case against a Latin American country, analyzing evidence coming from the defendant and translating the relevant documents from Spanish to English. In addition, she worked as a12th grade instructor at the Law and Leadership Institute (LLI) in summer 2014.

To learn more about the Moritz College of Law Master of Laws (LL.M.) program, visit http://moritzlaw.osu.edu/admissions/llm.