How to become a transnational lawyer at the University of Miami School of Law
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How to become a transnational lawyer at the University of Miami School of Law

If there is one US city that can claim to be at the intersection of talent, location and global links, it’s Miami.

Located in Florida, the fourth-largest economy in the US and 16th largest in the world, this flurry of energy at Miami does not begin and end in just international trade. Miami’s economy is diverse – it’s a major centre of finance, culture, entertainment and the arts too.

Settled by Spaniards in the 16th century, the city is currently home to several Fortune 500 companies and more than 1,100 multinationals valued at US$151 billion. From Microsoft to Visa International, many top corporations have their company’s Latin American headquarters in Miami. Last year, the city kicked New York City off the top spot to become the number one city for small business growth.

For lawyers, it’s hard to find a better setting than this to practise transnational law. Leveraging on this distinct geographical advantage are the specialist LL.M. programmes at the University of Miami’s School of Law (Miami Law).

Transnational law is defined by former Judge of the International Court of Justice Philip Jessup as “all law which regulates actions or events that transcend national frontiers. Both public and private international law are included, as are other rules which do not wholly fit into such standard categories.”

The LL.M. in US & Transnational Law for Foreign-Trained Lawyers is specifically designed for foreign law graduates aspiring to know more about US common law and its impact on the global economy. Flexible and specialised, this is a programme that allows students to take courses from Miami Law’s extensive course catalog alongside American JD students, tailoring courses according to their professional goals.

“The LL.M. was one of the most fulfilling experiences I have ever had. The opportunity to interact with a diverse student body, as well as an experienced and accessible faculty, broadened my perspective on quite a few subjects,” said alumnus Augusto Aragone, who is now Executive Vice President, Secretary and General Counsel for Ingram Micro Inc., a Fortune 500 company.

The distinct advantage of an LL.M. from Miami

Since 1979, the Miami Free Trade Zone – one of the world’s largest privately-owned and operated FTZs – has allowed clients to move goods in and out of North America. This makes Miami not just the epicentre of international commerce of the Americas, but also of Asia and Europe.

Miami is also home to the third largest US airport for international passengers and is the cruise capital of the world. It hosts the second-largest number of foreign banks in the US, a large representation of foreign consulates, 25 international trade offices, 40 binational chambers of commerce and many non-governmental organizations headquarters or offices.

This combination of Miami’s strategic location and Miami Law’s specialised programmes have made for meteoric career trajectories.

Otavio Carneiro landed a position as partner at Akerman LLP, a top 100 US law firm serving clients across the Americas, after just graduating from Miami Law. Though foreign-trained, his qualifications from Miami Law – Intensive Legal English + LL.M. in International Law and LL.M./J.D. – and extensive experience in the areas of cross-border and domestic transactions, landed him the prestigious position of partner in the Corporate Practice Group in the Miami office.

“I knew through friends and research that the International LL.M. programme at Miami Law was an excellent choice. Besides that, Miami is a hub for Latin America. The city is improving in many ways to be even more international,” he said.

Carneiro, dual-licensed in Brazil and the US, now focuses on outbound investment in Brazil and Latin America and inbound investment from Brazil into the US.

“I have no doubt that Akerman looked at me not only for my history of dealings with international clients in Brazil,” Carneiro says, “but especially to the fact that I now had a J.D. in the US.”

Carmen Perez-Llorca, director of Miami Law’s International Graduate Law Programmes said: “Our school has unmatched expertise in educating students like Otavio – international, foreign-trained lawyers, including many who are non-native English speakers, who want to launch their legal career in the U.S.”

“We strive to offer them an array of options that address their diverse legal education and professional career needs and goals, and we do so within a unique support network.”

Source: Miami Law

Another student taking her international career ahead at Miami Law is Russian lawyer Daria Kuznetsova. The recipient of the White & Case/Carolyn B Lamm Scholarship – allowing her to pursue her LL.M. degree in International Arbitration at Miami Law – holds an impressive resume: Bachelor and Master of Law degrees from Lomonosov Moscow State University in Russia and experience as an associate with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in Moscow, where she represented major companies in commercial and investor-state arbitrations.

She describes her LL.M. degree – the only one of its kind in the US – as “very appealing”.

“We have a one-of-a-kind opportunity to learn from the biggest names in the field of arbitration, including Carolyn Lamm, Rudolf Dolzer, Albert Jan van den Berg, Luke Sobota, and many others. Because of a limited number of students in the classes, sustained interactions with the professors make this programme unparalleled. From the very first day of studying, students have plunged into the international arbitration community – undoubtedly important for the transition to arbitration practice.”

Other lawyers have expanded their transnational knowledge through online LL.M. programs at Miami Law. This includes José Rubens Scharlack who completed his LL.M. in Taxation of Cross-Border Investment and his J.D. at Miami Law and now specializes in the tax and business intricacies of international transactions involving Brazil, the United States, and foreign jurisdictions.

“My favorite class was Outbound Investments which provided me valuable tools for understanding the tax standpoint of many of my clients’ U.S. controlling companies. Also doing the program online was an extra advantage, for it gave me the necessary flexibility a working attorney needs to have in order to keep his practice while improving his skills.”

Other specialised LL.M. programmes offered at Miami Law include Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law, Real Estate Development, Estate Planning, Tax and Maritime.

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