Around Syracuse Law

College of Law Adds Alumni from Sidley Austin LLP, Starbucks, and Wiley Rein LLP to its Board of Advisors

Kenneth W. Irvin L’92, Zabrina Jenkins G’97, L’00, and The Hon. Nazakhtar (Nazak) Nikakhtar G’02, L’02
Kenneth W. Irvin L’92, Zabrina Jenkins G’97, L’00, and The Hon. Nazakhtar (Nazak) Nikakhtar G’02, L’02

Syracuse University College of Law has added Kenneth W. Irvin L’92, Partner, Energy, M&A, Securities Enforcement and Regulatory at Sidley Austin LLP; the Hon. Nazakhtar (Nazak) Nikakhtar G’02. L’02, Partner, Chair, National Security Practice and Co-Chair, Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. at Wiley Rein LLP; and Zabrina M. Jenkins G’97, L’00, Executive Advisor to the Office of the CEO at Starbucks to its Board of Advisors.

“As the legal world evolves at an unprecedented pace, we need the diverse expertise that Ken, Nazak, and Zabrina bring to the Board to help lead our College and students into the future,” says Acting Dean Keith J. Bybee, Paul E. and Hon. Joanne F. Alper ’72 Judiciary Studies Professor.

“I would like to welcome Ken, Nazak, and Zabrina to the Board of Advisors,” says College of Law Board of Advisors Chair Melanie Gray L’81. “These impressive alumni bring extensive experiences from law firms, government, and consumer businesses to the Board that will benefit our students and College as we deliver a legal education for today’s ever-changing world.”

Kenneth W. Irvin L’92 is a co-leader of Sidley’s global Energy practice area team, and represents clients on a variety of regulatory, enforcement, compliance, and transactional matters involving the U.S. wholesale electricity and natural gas markets, as well as with respect to the energy transition. Irvin has extensive experience representing clients in regulatory and investigations proceedings before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and multiple state energy regulatory agencies, which includes handling FERC enforcement matters and self-reports. Irvin graduated from the College of Law, magna cum laude in 1992 and from Clarkson University with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering in 1987.

The Hon. Nazakhtar (Nazak) Nikakhtar G’02, L’02 is an international trade and national security attorney at Wiley Rein LLP where she is the Chair of Wiley’s national security practice and Co-Chair of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U. S. practice. From 2018 to 2021, with unanimous confirmation by the U.S. Senate, Nikakhtar served as the Department of Commerce’s Assistant Secretary for Industry & Analysis at the International Trade Administration. She also fulfilled the duties of the Under Secretary for Industry and Security at Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security. Nikakhtar earned Juris Doctor and Master of Economics degrees from Syracuse University, where she served as Editor-in-Chief of the Syracuse Journal of International Law and Commerce, and a B. A. degree from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Zabrina Jenkins G’97, L’00 is executive advisor to the Office of the Chief Executive Officer of Starbucks. She is a member of CEO Laxman Narasimhan’s extended executive leadership team providing strategic counsel and support in several key areas including corporate strategy, public affairs, talent development, inclusion and diversity, and legal and stakeholder engagement. Previously, she was acting executive vice president and general counsel for Starbucks, leading legal and regulatory affairs, global security, and ethics and compliance for the company. Additionally, Jenkins serves as an executive champion to the Starbucks Black Partner Network and an advisor to the diversity committee for the Law & Corporate Affairs department. Zabrina received a B. S. in business administration from Central Washington University, an M. S. from Syracuse University School of Education, and a J. D. cum laude from Syracuse University College of Law.

From Chicago to NYC: Externship Opens Doors for Law Student into Transactional Law

Alex Stolfe

Originally from Chicago, IL, Alexandra Stolfe L’25 has always pictured her post-graduate life beginning in New York City. She loves roaming the art galleries, reading books in Central Park, and trying as many new restaurants as she possibly can.

Stolfe came to Syracuse Law as a part of the 3+3 partnership with the Syracuse University Martin J. Whitman School of Management, where she graduated with a degree in finance and accounting. At law school, she was elected as Senior Notes Editor for the Syracuse Law Review. She is also involved with the Alternative Dispute Resolution team of the Travis H.D. Lewin Advocacy Honor Society and tutoring 1Ls as an Academic Success Fellow. She is interested in working in transactional law, something that has been solidified for her through her current externship with the asset finance group at Holland & Knight.

New York City street from above

Thanks in part to the Externship Opportunity Fund, Stolfe could make connections, study, and begin to set up a life for herself in New York City. She is also learning a great deal about what her future work will be, already sitting in on client negotiations, drafting sale and purchase agreements, and even supporting her firm at the Airline Economics Conference.

Overall, she loved working with the people at Holland & Knight the most. “The associates and partners were patient with my questions and eager to teach me,” she explains. “The partners always created time to give me feedback and share stories about their impressive careers and the associates took the time to give extra instruction when I needed it. This made me feel like an integrated member of the office. I received incredible mentorship.”

Alex Stolfe

While the office operates with a high level of professionalism, Stolfe appreciated the warmth and friendliness of her coworkers. The welcoming and supportive environment helped her feel more confident asking questions and contributing her own opinions and thoughts on work products.

Stolfe credits the guidance of Richard Furey L’94, Partner, Holland & Knight, with shaping her externship experience. She believes that working with him and observing how he leads the practice truly showed her what it means to be a leader, in both the office and in his field.

Richard Furey
Richard Furey L’94, Partner, Holland & Knight

“I have always greatly admired and appreciated the Syracuse alumni network,” she says. “They are always ready to provide help when you need it. I would not be where I am today if not for these connections.”

Stolfe plans on building upon the lessons and skills she learned at Holland & Knight to her summer associate position this summer. This includes not only technical skills related to asset finance, contract drafting, and aviation law but also the interpersonal skills that define what it means to be an attorney.

Dean Craig Boise: Leading for the Future and Creating More Expansive Legal Communities

Craig Boise poses in the Law Library in front of a wall of text

When Craig Boise went to law school in the 1980s, there wasn’t much talk of a value proposition. He received a rigorous legal education at the University of Chicago and, of course, intensive study. Still, says Boise, “There was a real disconnect between the doctrine we were learning and how to use it. We had large stacks of books and no real sense of how it all would apply in practice. That’s the gulf I’ve tried hard to span.”

When he became Dean of the College of Law in 2016, Boise was determined to redefine the value proposition of law school. “We are focused on ensuring our students attain the kinds of jobs they dream about. Certainly, they receive an excellent education, but they also get the support they need to pass the bar, the connections to externships and the clinical work that positions them to excel when they graduate. Law school is an investment. We make it worth their while.”

Dean Boise poses for a photo on the stairs of Dineen Hall early in his tenure

Those who worked closely with Boise during his tenure as Dean—as advisors, colleagues, faculty and staff—and students who obtained their law degrees over the last eight years say they have reaped the benefits of his vision and determination.

“During my first trial assignment, one of the senior attorneys said to me ‘I had no idea you were so well trained.’ I didn’t have to be taught how to do a direct exam or develop a strategy for cross-examination. The core was all there and it shocked some of my colleagues. I can hold my ground because of the training I received at Syracuse University College of Law.”

Tyler Jefferies L’21, Deputy Attorney General, Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General

Tyler Jefferies L’21 is testimony to the value proposition Boise envisioned. Now Deputy Attorney General at the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General, Jefferies says she’s the youngest in the office by far. “During my first trial assignment, one of the senior attorneys said to me ‘I had no idea you were so well trained.’ I didn’t have to be taught how to do a direct exam or develop a strategy for cross-examination. The core was all there and it shocked some of my colleagues. I can hold my ground because of the training I received at Syracuse University College of Law.”

Jefferies’ advocacy skills were honed through the many trial competitions and advocacy classes that bring distinction to the College. “I consider us an elite program,” says Professor Todd Berger, Director of Advocacy Programs. “We do things that are more creative and more innovative than any other law school in the advocacy space.” Berger credits Boise for targeting areas of distinction, such as advocacy, and providing the resources to expand and strengthen those programs.

“Dean Boise never turned down a new idea to innovate,” says Jefferies. “When Professor Berger proposed the idea of a 14-week competition that operates like professional sports playoffs, the Dean said ‘Great. Let’s hammer out the logistics and just try it!’ We have been a trailblazer in the competition world and other schools are trying to do similar things. Dean Boise’s ability to see the bigger picture and support it was really important to the growth of the program.”

Brian Gerling meets with students at a table in the Innovation Law Center
Brian Gerling L’99 meets with students at a table in the Innovation Law Center

“Craig had a forward-thinking attitude toward growing the law school and providing students with the most well-rounded education possible and practical learning experiences and opportunities to make them more marketable and more successful graduates.”

Brian Gerling L’99, Executive Director of the Innovation Law Center

Trailblazer and innovator are words often used to describe Boise. “Craig had a forward-thinking attitude toward growing the law school and providing students with the most well-rounded education possible and practical learning experiences and opportunities to make them more marketable and more successful graduates,” says Brian Gerling L’99, Professor of Practice and Executive Director of the Innovation Law Center (ILC). Today, more than 97% of graduates are employed or enrolled in another graduate program within 10 months of graduation, an impressive achievement for law schools and just one of many measures of success realized during Boise’s tenure.

Gerling recalls that as a law student at Syracuse Law in the ‘90s, he was aware of professors and courses that were considered ahead of their time. But he credits Boise with investing in and structuring comprehensive programs that would bring new distinction to the College and success to students. “He infused enthusiasm and capital and leadership, engaging alumni and donors in supporting programs that are nationally recognized.”

“We knew we needed a visionary leader with innovative ideas and a diversity of life experiences, who was also a team player and bold in vision and action,” says Melanie Gray L’81, who served on the University Board of Trustees and the College of Law Board of Advisors when Boise was hired. At the time, the College was running a multi-million dollar deficit and putting a drain on the university.

Melanie Gray standing outside of the Melanie Gray Ceremonial Courtroom
Melanie Gray L’81 standing outside of the Melanie Gray Ceremonial Courtroom.

“We knew we needed a visionary leader with innovative ideas and a diversity of life experiences, who was also a team player and bold in vision and action.”

Melanie Gray L’81, College of Law Board of Advisors, University Trustee

Chancellor Kent Syverud, himself an attorney and former law school dean, believed that Boise could turn things around with his bold vision and commitment to academic excellence. When Boise was appointed Dean in 2016, Syverud said “He is the ideal person to lead the College of Law into a new era.”

Dean Boise and Chancellor Syverud speak with a group of students
Craig Boise and Chancellor Syverud meet with students in Dineen Hall.

“Dean Boise’s creativity and drive helped the College of Law launch one of the first and one of the best online law degree programs in the nation. He has embraced and advanced priorities of the university, including disability advocacy and advocacy for veterans and military-connected students.”

Chancellor Syverud

“Dean Boise brought innovation to a discipline steeped in tradition,” says Chancellor Syverud. “Dean Boise’s creativity and drive helped the College of Law launch one of the first and one of the best online law degree programs in the nation. He has embraced and advanced priorities of the university, including disability advocacy and advocacy for veterans and military-connected students. I am so grateful to Dean Boise for his outstanding and entrepreneurial leadership over the last eight years and thank him for his distinguished service to Syracuse University.”

Boise says he was drawn to the opportunity because he knew the Chancellor truly appreciated the value of a top-notch legal education and describes Syverud as a mentor. “Still, it was a bit daunting,” he admits. And he had a lot more questions than answers. “How am I going to distinguish myself as a dean? What am I going to bring that is both important and instrumental in moving the institution forward?”

What Boise brought to the College was an incredibly diverse background of life experiences that uniquely qualified him to manage transition and lead through transformation. Raised in a small town in Missouri by Southern Baptist parents, he worked summers on a family farm in Nebraska and, at first, envisioned a career as a farmer or rancher. But his musical talent as a classical pianist earned him a scholarship to a conservatory and a new vision for his future. Then, economic realities set in and Boise left college for the workforce. He worked in a warehouse for a while, as a messenger in a law firm, and enrolled in the police academy. He still sips from his POLICE KCMO mug, a souvenir from his five years as an officer in Kansas City. That’s where he became interested in the law and a different vision for his future and enrolled at University of Chicago Law School. With his J.D. and later an LL.M. in taxation from New York University School of Law, he worked as a corporate lawyer, then switched to academia, eventually becoming dean at Cleveland State University’s law school.

Mark Neporent and Craig Boise pose for a photo
Mark Neporent L’82 and Craig Boise pose for a photo after the fireside chat at the Denver JDinteractive Residency.

“Perhaps it was the police training, but like a good officer, Craig recognizes points of tension and embraces them. He knows how to deescalate situations and calm things down and bring people along to see his point of view. I’m a big fan and very appreciative of what’s he’s done for the law school and the University.”

Mark Neporent L’82, College of Law Board of Advisors, University Trustee

“There’s a force and energy within his lived experiences that stood out and differentiated him from all other candidates,” say Gray, who was on the Syracuse University search committee that recommended him for the position. Like Gray, Mark Neporent L’82 served on the Board of Advisors and was a University trustee. “Perhaps it was the police training, but like a good officer, Craig recognizes points of tension and embraces them,” says Neporent. “He knows how to deescalate situations and calm things down and bring people along to see his point of view. I’m a big fan and very appreciative of what’s he’s done for the law school and the University.”

In his first year as Dean, Boise launched an assessment of the law school’s assets to better understand what could distinguish it from the other 200+ law schools in the country. Four areas stood out: the Advocacy Program, Disability Law and Policy Program, Innovation Law Center, and the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism (now known as the Institute for Security Policy and Law). “When we looked at the genesis of these programs, they were big innovations from the start,” says Boise. In fact, these programs provided a foundation for defining and securing the law school’s distinctive brand as an innovative law school. “We have a history of innovation that we could point to, which made it possible to tie the past to where we are going in the future.”

A group of people pose for a photo on steps underneath a sign that reads "Welcome Dean Craig M. Boise and Distinguished Guests Syracuse University College of Law.
Craig Boise (middle front) and Sophie Dagenais (middle front) pose with colleagues at the College of Law at Kyung Hee University.

“Craig was steadfast in his determination to build on this history of innovation. To him, that was the brand and brand was mission critical. That meant providing the resources needed to deepen expertise, bringing in new faculty, expanding experiential learning opportunities in each area, engaging alumni, and telling the story of these assets and attributes more effectively to attract new students and drive philanthropic support.”

Sophie Dagenais, Former Assistant Dean for Advancement and External Affairs.

“Craig was steadfast in his determination to build on this history of innovation. To him, that was the brand and brand was mission critical,” says Sophie Dagenais, who served as Boise’s Assistant Dean for Advancement and External Affairs. “That meant providing the resources needed to deepen expertise, bringing in new faculty, expanding experiential learning opportunities in each area, engaging alumni, and telling the story of these assets and attributes more effectively to attract new students and drive philanthropic support.”

Craig Boise poses with a student on the steps in Dineen Hall

“We have a responsibility to our students to be at the forefront of legal innovation. When we are, we not only better prepare them for the future, but we also shape the future.”

Craig Boise, Dean

“There’s nothing I love better than new ideas and fresh ways of thinking about things, whether it’s curricular—what we are teaching our students—or new ways of teaching or innovation in operations. These things get me excited,” says Boise. “We have a responsibility to our students to be at the forefront of legal innovation. When we are, we not only better prepare them for the future, but we also shape the future.”

Perhaps nowhere is this innovative spirit and impact more apparent than in JDinteractive, the first hybrid online J.D. program of its kind in the nation, combining virtual class sessions with self-paced online instruction, short courses, in-person residencies and a legal externship. The concept of an online program was under development when Boise was hired, but there were questions about its viability. Boise worked closely with faculty to design a program that would get American Bar Association (ABA) support, bring new revenue to the law school, attract and expand a diverse pool of students, and enhance the law school’s reputation. “I was fortunate to work with faculty who were willing to help build the plane while we were flying it,” says Boise.

“It was like a field of dreams. We built it and they came,” says Nina Kohn, David M. Levy L’48 Professor of Law. Kohn who was Associate Dean for Research and Online Education when Boise was appointed dean, admits that she and other faculty members were skeptical at first, because online education was often perceived as low-quality by academicians. “One thing that the launch of a program like this offers is the chance to talk seriously with all constituents—our students, alumni and faculty—about who we are as a college of law and why what we do matters. Our goal was to offer the best possible legal education that meets the needs of the profession. We created a space for those individuals for whom the residential program was not an option: people who have jobs and are not living near excellent night programs; people who have caregiving responsibilities; people who are in the military and don’t live in one place for very long. The people we built this for are now our graduates, and many of them serve in communities that are historically underserved. So we are not only helping students get the legal education they dreamed of, we’re helping communities as well.”

“When Craig came on board, it was his passion that helped push the program forward,” says Shannon Gardner, Teaching Professor and Associate Dean for Online Education. “He’s leading for the future, committed to innovation and 22nd century lawyering.” Gardner teaches the first five-day on-campus residency course for the JDi students. “I just fell in love with the students. Most have wanted to go to law school for so long, but thought it was an unattainable dream. They have so much gratitude and it’s gratifying for us to see them be able to join the legal profession.”

“When Craig came on board, it was his passion that helped push the [JDinteractive] program forward. He’s leading for the future, committed to innovation and 22nd century lawyering.”

Shannon Gardner, Teaching Professor and Associate Dean for Online Education

“I went to Zoom school before it was cool,” says Tiffany Love ’22, who was in the first cohort of JDi students. A military spouse, she had put her law school dreams on hold. But while stationed in Germany, she was accepted into the JDi program. “I was literally in class from midnight to 4 am, and then worked full time as a paralegal for the Army JAG.” Though she was concerned at first about how her credentials would be perceived by potential employers, she says the quality of a Syracuse law degree was an asset, no matter how it was attained. Now, Love is a second year associate at Phelps Dunbar LLP in Tampa.

“The JDi program single-handedly changed the trajectory of my life; it made a law degree accessible with the reputation of a national security powerhouse. Along with other College of Law visionaries, Dean Boise created this future for me. I know my legal contributions made a difference. I am forever grateful.”

Meghan Steenburgh G’97, L’23, Assistant General Counsel with the Department of Defense

Meghan Steenburgh G’97, L’23 is also living her dream, thanks to JDi. Now Assistant General Counsel with the Department of Defense, she said the program allowed her to pursue a law degree while caring for her children and helping her parents while living in three different states. “The JDi program single-handedly changed the trajectory of my life; it made a law degree accessible with the reputation of a national security powerhouse,” says Steenburgh. “Along with other College of Law visionaries, Dean Boise created this future for me. I know my legal contributions made a difference. I am forever grateful.”

The popularity and success of JDi also changed the fiscal trajectory of the law school. Further, concerns about quality are a thing of the past, with increased LSAT scores among applicants and impressive bar passage rates. JDi’s success has had ripple effects throughout the university, with the creation of the nation’s only online joint J.D./MBA program, a significant expansion of the Center for Online and Digital Learning to provide support for other degree programs, and, the inclusion of JDi students in other stellar programs like Advocacy and Syracuse Law Review. For example, JDi students are included in virtual trial competitions, preparing students for more virtual practice in the real world. “They have a leg up,” says Jefferies, noting that she recently had three court cases in which she appeared virtually. She now coaches JDi students for virtual advocacy competitions.

A pilot program with JDi students will contribute to a significant expansion in enrollment in the ILC, says Gerling. Gerling also credits Boise with bringing the University’s tech transfer office into the ILC, giving law students the chance to do real-world work on commercializing new technology generated by researchers across the campus. “That’s a real feather in Craig’s cap,” says Gerling. “His vision and leadership led to a productive working relationship between the Office of Research and the law school. We’ve also developed internships with the Office of the General Counsel. Our students not only learn how to think like lawyers but practice the skills necessary for the practice of law.”

And it was Boise’s outreach to alumni that made it possible for students to develop so many new skills. “Craig engaged alumni in unique ways,” says Dagenais. “Our alumni stepped up and delivered content for JDi residencies, teaching short courses for a weekend or several days and enabling our students to do a deep dive into specialized sectors of the law.”

Boise’s ability to articulate the vision engaged alumni in ways that will benefit the law school for years to come. “He’s an impressive guy,” says Frank Ryan L’94, DLA Piper’s Global Co- Chair, Global Co-CEO and Americas Chair. Ryan rejoined the Board of Advisors in 2017 after Boise met with him in New York City and persuaded him to get re-engaged with his alma mater. “Craig’s ideas on how to transform legal education connected with me. He read the tea leaves and offered an understanding of how to compete against other law schools and how we as alumni could help.”

Now, Syracuse Law has the highest rate of alumni engagement of all twelve University schools and colleges, along with the highest alumni giving participation, exceeding its goals for the Forever Orange Campaign a year ahead of schedule. Ryan calls Boise an “exceptional team builder. He empowers people and then lets them go and do their jobs.”

Benita Miller L’96 chats with Craig Boise while walking through Dineen Hall
Benita Miller L’96

“Craig just has a way about him. He was willing to hear the hard stuff and discuss the pain points shared by Black alumni from the 1990s like myself. He created space for diversity that did not alienate the traditions that were so important to the institution.”

Benita Miller L’96, Vice President of U.S. Programs for the Center for Reproductive Rights

Benita Miller L’96 credits Boise’s for engaging alumni in meaningful ways by “creating space for everyone at the table.” Now Vice President of U.S. Programs for the Center for Reproductive Rights, Miller says she had not felt “at home” at the law school until Boise reached out, painted the vision, listened to her concerns and ignited her passion to serve the students. Today, she is on the Board of Advisors and mentors JDi students. “Craig just has a way about him. He was willing to hear the hard stuff and discuss the pain points shared by Black alumni from the 1990s like myself. He created space for diversity that did not alienate the traditions that were so important to the institution.” Miller cites JDi and the Orange Advance pipeline program with HBCU institutions as innovations that “are really important to our profession. We’re contributing to a more expansive legal community.”

“Craig focused the value proposition of law school on opening the aperture for our students to have more career opportunities and reach life goals,” says Lily Yan Hughes, Assistant Dean of Career Services and Student Experience. Having had a prolific career in corporate law, Hughes was intrigued when Boise approached her in 2021 to help him reimagine career services. “My team’s ‘tagline’ is that we are not just resume readers or a job bank. We are here to help students think more strategically and to be CEO of their own careers.”

Two people working at a desk in front of a Syracuse Law Career Expo sign, a third person smiles at the camera
Lily Yan Hughes, Assistant Dean of Career Services and Student Experience and team at the Syracuse Law Career Expo.

“Craig focused the value proposition of law school on opening the aperture for our students to have more career opportunities and reach life goals.”

Lily Yan Hughes, Assistant Dean of Career Services and Student Experience

Evidence of the value proposition at work: The last four years have seen a 55% increase in overall student externship placements. Last year, 195 students were placed in externships in 29 states, many of them made possible because of the Orange alumni network. The rate of employment ten months after graduation jumped 21% from 2018 to 2023.

As graduates fan out into careers in the courtroom or the boardroom, in public service or private equity, and use their degrees to practice law or bring a different way of thinking to other industries, they are the living legacy of the tenure of a dean dedicated to innovation and bringing a new value proposition to their education.

The Board of Advisors recognized that legacy in creating a new scholarship in his name, to be awarded to a student who has demonstrated an entrepreneurial and innovative spirit. With emotion in his voice as the scholarship plaque was presented to him, Boise expressed his gratitude. “This was such a perfect gift because it reflects what I value most—opportunities for our students to pursue meaningful careers in a world that requires their vision, integrity and a steadfast commitment to justice.”

Dean Boise poses with a student for a selfie

As Boise prepares to take his first sabbatical in 21 years, he’s looking forward to contributing to further innovations in legal education. He plans to teach a JDi course and work with the Center for Online Design and Learning to integrate new technologies into course design. But first, he says, he’ll focus on other passions. He’ll play more piano, especially the works of Rachmaninoff and Chopin who were both considered innovators in their time. He also plans to set sail, steering a boat through whatever turbulence he might encounter to find peace and calm in the expanse of the seas.

Residencies Give JDi Students a World View of Legal Topics, Opportunity to Connect Face-to-Face with Cohort

Who wouldn’t want to take in the ancient architecture of Rome while studying international law or see landmarks like Big Ben and Buckingham Palace while learning about comparative trial advocacy in the heart of London? Who can resist the rush of adrenaline found in a bustling New York City law firm while learning about asset finance or the glitz and glamour of Los Angeles while studying bankruptcy law? These are just a few of the options offered to students enrolled in the Syracuse University College of Law’s JDinteractive (JDi) hybrid online program, as they work to complete six required in-person residencies.

“Our residencies have become a hallmark of our JDi program, and we will continue to promote this type of high-quality experiential learning moving forward.”

Shannon Gardner, Associate Dean for Online Education

A Warm Orange Welcome

Syracuse University campus in the fall

The first and second of the six required residencies have the JDi students traveling to the Syracuse University campus. The first residency, Legal Foundations, happens the week before the start of fall classes. Students spend five days in Dineen Hall getting a solid foundation in U.S. government and legal systems, as well as a clear understanding of the rigors of law school study methods and other skills, to set them up for a successful experience.

“This puts everyone at the same starting level with an equal base knowledge to succeed in the JDi program,” says Gardner. “It also helps students feel connected to Syracuse Law right from the start, whether they are participating from across town or the country.”

Members of the JDi incoming Class of ’27 came to the Syracuse campus in August 2023 for their first residency experience. Not only did they take away a lot of knowledge, but they also had the chance to walk the campus, experience the city, and, of course, stop to purchase some Syracuse University merch to wear proudly back home. Students were officially welcomed during Convocation, along with the incoming residential law students, as Zabrina Jenkins G’97, L’00, former general counsel for Starbucks, gave the keynote address.

Students had the opportunity to visit the James M. Hanley Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in downtown Syracuse. And, lunch at the world-renowned Dinosaur Bar-B-Que added a flavorful touch to their visit. In addition, the Dean’s Dinner, hosted by Dean Craig Boise, gave students a valuable opportunity to network with faculty, staff, and classmates, and an event at Skaneateles Country Club connected them with more area alumni.

JDi students returned to campus again just before the start of the spring semester for Legal Applications, a five-day residency on practical skills like public speaking, negotiations, interviewing, research, and writing. The 1Ls also visited Salt City Market, a downtown attraction featuring a diverse menu from local vendors, and later went to a networking event sponsored by the Student Bar Association.

Students in a lecture hall
Zabrina Jenkins G’97, L’00, former general counsel for Starbucks, speaks to a class of JDi students on campus for the General Counsel residency in August, 2023
A student stands in front of the courthouse downtown
Students had the opportunity to visit the James M. Hanley Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in downtown Syracuse.
Students in a courtroom
Students had the opportunity to visit the James M. Hanley Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in downtown Syracuse.
Students network with classmates in front of Dinosaur BBQ
Students network with their classmates at Dinosaur BBQ.
Students enjoy a beverage together at the Salt City Market
Students enjoy a beverage together at the Salt City Market.

Back to Campus to Learn Professional Skills

A JDi student poses for a photo in front of a Syracuse University trolley

The third and fourth residencies, Professional Skills, take place together at the Syracuse Law campus over five days, allowing students to choose from a variety of topics at the start of their fifth semester of the JDi program. Last January, options included Negotiations, Trial Advocacy, Legal Ethics in National Security, Advanced Litigation, Criminal Investigation, Media Training, Administrative Representation for Veterans, Oral Communications, Lawyer as Counselor, Title IX Investigations, and The Right to Equal Access to the ADA.

Some students who attended the 2024 spring residencies had the chance to hear from the Hon. James Baker, Professor and Director of the Institute for Security Policy and Law, as he spoke on the ethical challenges that arise in national security policy and legal practice.

“I value the exposure to different styles of negotiations amongst my peers and how it compares to my style. The residency made me uncomfortable but pushed me to advocate in unfamiliar territory and collaborate with classmates I never worked with before.”

Yendi Fontenard L’26

Professor Beth Kubala, Executive Director of the Betty and Michael D. Wohl Veterans Legal Clinic gave JDi students the opportunity to learn more about working through the regulatory requirements of the U.S. through the Administrative Representation for Veterans course. And, Professor Todd A. Berger, Director of Advocacy Programs, helped students learn to be a trial counsel in simulated exercises, including practicing opening and closing arguments and cross-examinations. Still, other JDi students received media training, a vital skill for many attorneys, from Professor Kevin Noble Maillard, under the lights at the Dick Clark Studios at the University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.

“Hands down the best residency was my most recent with Professor Todd Berger and Professor Raul Velez,” says Yendi Fontenard L’26, a manager in the employee labor relations and workforce compliance department at Jackson North Medical Center in Miami. “I selected this option not because I want to be a trial attorney but because I want to be quicker on my feet and understand the courtroom dynamic.”

“A close second was negotiations with Professor (Antonio) Gidi,” she says. “I value the exposure to different styles of negotiations amongst my peers and how it compares to my style. The residency made me uncomfortable but pushed me to advocate in unfamiliar territory and collaborate with classmates I never worked with before.”

Yendi takes the stand during a mock-trial
Yendi Fontenard L’26 takes the stand during a mock trial.
Students meet with a client in the Veterans Legal Clinic
Students meet with a client in the Betty and Michael D. Wohl Veterans Legal Clinic.
Students present in the courtroom during a mock trial
Students present in the courtroom during a mock trial.
Professor Kevin Maillard works with a student on news set during his media training course
Professor Kevin Maillard works with a student in Dick Clark Studios during his media training course.

While time on campus is a dream come true for many, the outstanding opportunities to travel to other parts of the country and even internationally through the Advanced Legal Topics residencies, offered several times each semester, are truly a highlight. These advanced residencies last from four days to a week and allow students to take a sharp focus on specific topics of interest, while also visiting somewhere new. Topics and locations vary from year to year to offer a wide range of learning opportunities in fascinating locations. There are several Advanced Legal Topic residencies available on campus, as well.

“Our Advanced Legal Topics mirror a traditional law school seminar class,” says Gardner, noting that most have between 20 and 30 students enrolled. “There are a number of options, so students can pick and choose according to their interests. And, we are fortunate that many alumni host us at their law firms or other places of business and give our students access to sites they might otherwise not get to experience.”

London, England: Comparative Trial Advocacy

Students pose for a photo in front of the London Bridge

Students traveled to the U.K. to spend a week in London in May 2023 to see firsthand the various aspects of trial advocacy in a global setting and hear the diverse perspectives and insights from barristers and solicitors from a wide cross-section of criminal and civil practice areas.

“British law is the mother of U.S. law, so this was an amazing opportunity to be fully immersed in British law in a hands-on way that was very dynamic.”

George Saad L’25

Comparative Trial Advocacy was coordinated by Professor Berger and A.J. Bellido de Luna, assistant dean for advocacy programs and Hardy Service professor of law at St. Mary’s University School of Law in Texas, a visiting professor at Syracuse Law. It exposed students to the fundamentals of influential storytelling, case analysis, witness examination, and persuasive arguments. Students gained knowledge of the differences and similarities between the U.K. and the U.S. legal systems through guest lectures given by local practitioners and visits to civil and criminal courtrooms and law offices throughout London. And, they were given a tour of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom and allowed to sit in the chamber.

“British law is the mother of U.S. law, so this was an amazing opportunity to be fully immersed in British law in a hands-on way that was very dynamic,” says George Saad L’25, who after a 20-year career managing K-12 international schools in 20 countries is now managing partner, Capital Sourcing and Placement, in Phoenix, Arizona, and principle at NEXUS Associates, a consulting group. “I had gone to boarding school in the U.K., so traveling to London was of interest to me, and I was eager to do some work in trial advocacy, as I hadn’t had a chance to do that yet. It was a great immersive experience.”

Student pose for a photo in the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom
Students pose for a photo in the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom.


New York City: Asset Finance

Students wait to cross the road in NYC as a taxi drives by

In fall 2023, Syracuse Law held the Asset Finance residency, hosted by Richard Furey L’94, a distinguished attorney with a focus on international and domestic asset and infrastructure finance, specifically in the areas of aviation and maritime. The residency was held at Holland & Knight LLP, in Manhattan, where Furey is a partner, and for some JDi students, this was their first look at a big city law firm. The information was a holistic approach to understanding asset finance of aircraft, ships, rail cars, and automobiles, as well as fundamental financing structures, regulations, treaties, tax matters, insurance, and bankruptcy issues related to the residency’s topic.

In addition, the JDi students had a unique opportunity to visit the headquarters of JetBlue in Queens, New York, to further enrich their understanding of asset finance in the aviation sector. This visit was made possible through Syracuse Law alumna Joanna Geraghty G’97, L’97, who is CEO of the airline and a former partner at Holland & Knight.

Students in a conference room
Richard Furey L’94 teaching asset finance in a conference room at Holland & Knight in Manhattan.
Richard Furey L’94 poses next to the Holland & Knight sign
Richard Furey L’94
Students take a selfie in front of the Jet Blue sign
Students stop to take a selfie in front of the JetBlue sign at JetBlue headquarters.
Students in the Jet Blue conference room
Students visit JetBlue headquarters to learn more about asset finance in the aviation sector.

Denver, Colorado: Arbitration

Students crossing the street in Denver

Seventeen JDi students met in Denver in early January 2024, along with four students from Syracuse Law’s LL.M. program for the Arbitration residency. Professor Jack Graves led the class at the firm of Sherman & Howard, LLC, courtesy of alumnus Skip Netzorg L’76. The Arbitration residency provided an introduction to the law and practice of arbitration with the students drafting arbitration agreements, navigating enforcement of such agreements during disputes, conducting fair and efficient arbitration proceedings, and learning about enforcing the final awards issued by arbitrators. By the end of the residency, students had gained a solid foundation of the use of arbitration in resolving legal disputes, as well as insight into the issues that often arise during the drafting and implementation of arbitration agreements.

“The residencies have been such a great part of the JDi program, and Denver was no different. It was wonderful to interact with classmates and professors in person.”

Amanda Higginson L’25

The group also had time for some socializing, as they attended an alumni networking event at a local brewery. In addition, Mark Neporent L’82, chief operating officer, senior legal counsel and senior managing director, Cerberus Capital Management; and Dean Craig Boise held a fireside chat, where they advised the JDi students about entering and navigating the legal profession. Neporent told his story of moving from in-house practice at a law firm to one of the largest global hedge funds.

“The residencies have been such a great part of the JDi program, and Denver was no different. It was wonderful to interact with classmates and professors in person,” says Amanda Higginson L’25, associate dean for student affairs, clinical sciences and clinical professor of pediatrics at the Brody School of Medicine, East Carolina University. “Professor Graves’ class on Arbitration was amazing and really exposed me to a field of law I didn’t know much about, and it was great to see Dean Boise out in support of the JDi program.”

Students chat in front of the Sherman & Howard sign
Students networking in the office of Sherman & Howard.
Students chat in front of the Sherman & Howard sign
Amanda Higginson L’25 (second from the left) chats with classmates at Sherman & Howard between sessions.
A JDi student holds her baby and smiles for the camera
A JDi student poses with her baby at the alumni event at Wynkoop Brewery
Mark Neporent L’82 meets with students after the fireside chat
Mark Neporent L’82 meets with students after the fireside chat.
Alumni panel
Skip Netzorg L’76 and colleagues from Sherman & Howard speak on at a panel event on arbitration.
LL.M. studnets chat outside on the street in Denver
LL.M. students chat outside on the street in Denver.
Students in a classroom

Los Angeles, California: Bankruptcy

Students walking in downtown L.A.

Taught by Richard Levy Jr. L’77, a bankruptcy and creditors’ rights counselor and litigator at Pryor Cashman, LLP, the Bankruptcy residency in Los Angeles took place in March 2024. Goodwin Proctor LLP hosted the students for lectures on the rights and treatment of secured and unsecured creditors under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. In addition, the course examined a range of creditor remedies under state laws affecting creditors’ rights. Levy was assisted by several guest lecturers, including a U.S. bankruptcy judge and a federal bankruptcy trustee.

“One of my favorite parts of the trip was the camaraderie between the class and the time I got to spend with the people in my cohort. These residencies offer such a priceless bonding moment on personal and legal levels that have a positive ripple effect far beyond the classroom.”

Kelsey Grant L’25

In addition, Melanie Gray L’81, chair of Syracuse Law’s Board of Advisors and retired complex commercial and bankruptcy litigation partner at Winston & Strawn LLP, was a keynote speaker and joined the students later for a fireside chat. The students also visited the U.S. Bankruptcy Court followed by an alumni networking event later that evening.

“The highlight of the trip was listening to Melanie Gray talk about her experience as a woman in law and how she’s faced adversity throughout her career,” says Kathryn Martin L’24, a tax director at a private trust firm in Nevada, whose trip to Los Angeles was her sixth residency.

Others in the program agreed that the residency was a success. “I’ve never been to downtown L.A.,” says Kelsey Grant L’25. “One of my favorite parts of the trip was the camaraderie between the class and the time I got to spend with the people in my cohort. These residencies offer such a priceless bonding moment on personal and legal levels that have a positive ripple effect far beyond the classroom.”

Students attend a lecture in the conference room of Goodwin in L.A.
Richard Levy Jr. L’77 lectures at the bankruptcy residency in the conference room of Goodwin Proctor.
a professor motions with his hands to a room of students
Richard Levy Jr. L’77
Melanie Gray hosts speaks to the class during a fireside chat
Melanie Gray L’81 fireside chat.
Melanie Gray speaks with a group of students at Goodwin Proctor
Melanie Gray L’81 meets with students after her fireside chat at Goodwin Proctor.
Students sit around a square table at the bankruptcy court
Students took a trip to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court: Central District of California.

Geneva, Switzerland: International Tax Law

A skiier stopped to pose for the camera with her arms in the air.

Through an invitation from Marnin Michaels G’96, L’96, a member of the Syracuse Law Board of Advisors and Senior Partner at Baker McKenzie in Zurich, the International Tax Law residency was held in Switzerland and led by Dean and Professor of Law Craig Boise. JDi students, as well as a few residential law students, prepared for the trip by attending two lectures with Boise prior to departure to ensure that the group already had a solid overview of international tax law before the residency began.

The first stop was three intensive days in Geneva, where they were invited by Michaels to use the international law firm of Baker McKenzie as their home base. He also served as an adjunct professor, working with Boise.

Students learned about the foundational principles of international tax law and gained a better understanding of tax competition, the practice of international tax law in civil law and common law jurisdictions, concepts of business and tax advising relative to transfer pricing, measuring risk and intangibles, common reporting standards under the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and other related issues.

The time in Geneva included meetings with two private banks that primarily deal with high net worth individuals: The Pictet Group and UBP Private Banking; a visit to the World Health Organization, where students learned how lawyers handled issues related to the pandemic from a legal standpoint; and a trip to the World Trade Organization and International Labor Organization, where they saw how taxes affect what other organizations do and how lawyers carry out their responsibilities. The group also heard from Prof. Dr. Réne Matteotti, University of Zurich, a tax attorney and professor who specializes in Swiss European and international tax law.

After staying in Geneva, the group traveled to Saas Fee, where they had a few mornings free to enjoy the beauty of the area and take in some skiing in the Swiss Alps. Lectures and networking opportunities took place later in the day, including a presentation from Professor of Law Dr. Robert Danon from the University of Lausanne, on the role and impact of arbitration in tax disputes.

“It was really helpful to get a broader picture of how international taxation works,” says financial advisor Benjamin Muladore L’25. “The biggest thing we learned is how international tax law is very different from domestic tax law in terms of what lawyers do to help their clients. In the U.S., we think of taxes as one day of the year and tax lawyers as those who help us with the IRS. But international tax law is much more complicated with goods and services, multiple countries, complexities, and more. It’s much different from what we learn in our domestic tax law class.”

Students pose for a photo at the World Health Organization
Students pose for a photo at the World Health Organization
Marnin Michaels G’96, L’96
Marnin Michaels G’96, L’96, Syracuse Law Board of Advisors and Senior Partner at Baker McKenzie in Zurich
A sign reads Saas-Fee in a snowy village in the Alps
Saas-Fee, Switzerland
A group of students post for a photo on stone steps
Skiers on a mountain
Students tour a facility with large colorful flags on the right side

A double image of students eating dinner during sunset in Rome and the Colosseum

Elaine Sharpe L’25 chose to attend the residency on Comparative Legal Systems in Rome in March 2024 for two reasons: the topic and the location.

Sharpe is a member of the Syracuse Journal of International Law and Commerce and was very excited about the opportunity to take a comparative law course, which also fulfilled her international law course requirement for her law journal.

“I have lived and worked overseas and always enjoy learning about different cultures, so a comparative law course studying how legal systems differ between the U.S. and an E.U. member nation like Italy was a perfect fit for me,” she says.

The course, taught by Distinguished Lecturer Luca Arnaudo, Senior officer at the Italian Competition Authority and adjunct professor at LUISS Guido Carli University (Rome, Italy), not only provided students with information about the civil legal system of Italy but also allowed them to gain a greater understanding of how European law operates and interacts with the legal system of individual member states. In addition, the information aimed to help students develop a greater appreciation for the American legal system and its place on the world stage.

Highlights of the residency included a guided tour of the Italian Constitutional Court, guest lectures from Italian law professors, scholars, and practicing attorneys in international law who highlighted both similarities and differences between practicing law in a common law jurisdiction, such as the U.S., versus a civil law jurisdiction, such as Italy. Other activities included a study visit to the Curtis Law Firm, followed by a cocktail reception with Arnaudo and local attorneys; and an off-site visit to law firm Manfredi de Vita/Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt and Mosle, LLP.

In keeping with the expression “When in Rome…,” students also took part in a pasta and tiramisu-making class and had some time to take in the historic city sites, local culture, and delicious cuisine.

“Residencies like this are a great part of the JDi program because these courses give students the opportunity to practice our legal skills through immersive experiences, face-to-face interaction and hands on exercises that allow us to apply the knowledge we have learned through our classes,” says Sharpe. “And, it was an excellent networking opportunity that allowed JDi students to connect and socialize with those in our cohort that we may not otherwise have classes with, making it a fun and instructive week.”

Luca Arnaudo arrives at class on his vespa, next to an image of the colleseum on a coffee
Luca Arnaudo arrives at class on a Vespa.
Students make pasta in a cooking class

Washington, D.C.: Corporate Sustainability, Federal Practice, Elder Law

Students point at the Washington monument in the distance

In late April, the JDi program held three different residency programs simultaneously in Washington, D.C:

  • The Corporate Lawyer in a Sustainable World: In-House Lawyering for Sustainability/Responsible Sourcing Programs taught by Prashanth (PJ) Jayachandran G’98, L’98, chief supply chain counsel at Colgate-Palmolive
  • Federal Practice taught by Yan Bennett L’08, deputy chair/ course coordinator—multilateral diplomacy and climate for the Foreign Service Institute
  • Elder Law taught by the David M. Levy Professor of Law Nina Kohn

“Education has evolved so much in the past few decades, and I am incredibly impressed by the level of engagement, sophistication of the students’ questions, and their depth of understanding.”

Rostin Behnam L’05, Chairman of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission

Led by Jayachandran, The Corporate Lawyer in a Sustainable World residency provided students with an understanding of the role of in-house counsel in giving legal and business advice for global corporate and sustainability programs. Students came to see how sustainability has pivoted from corporate “citizenship” to a recognition that corporations have a responsibility to promote and maintain a sustainable world.

The course also outlined how volunteer sustainability efforts have intersected with increasing global compliance, including sustainability laws. Classes and panel discussions were hosted at Miller & Chevalier, as well as Morgan Lewis & Bockius. Guest speakers and lecturers included Michael Levin, chief sustainability officer, UnderArmour; Professor Jay Golden, Syracuse University Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs; and Vance Merolla, senior vice president and fellow, global sustainability, Colgate-Palmolive.

“During the residency, we learned about a concept and then split up to do group exercises. For the lesson on corporate DEI programs, our professor asked visiting attorney Ray Williams, an expert on these policies, to weigh in on what each group presented. There’s a quickly shifting legal landscape on DEI, and it was really interesting to get his feedback.”

Samuel Hudzik L’24, News Director at New England Public Media

Speakers addressing modern slavery and human right due diligence included Amy Lehr, assistant general counsel for human rights and sustainability, Mars; Richard Mojico, trade lawyer, and Mary Mikhaeel, senior associate, both from Miller & Chevalier; and Sarah Altschuller, business and human rights counsel, Verizon. Other participants who lend their expertise were Ken Kulak, partner, Morgan Lewis; Michael Littenberg, partner, Ropes & Gray LLP; Heather Welles, counsel, O’Melveny; and Ray Williams, senior counsel, DLA Piper.

“I went to undergrad at George Washington University in D.C., so I loved walking around, exploring and remembering the city,” says Samuel Hudzik L’24, news director at New England Public Media. “During the residency, we learned about a concept and then split up to do group exercises. For the lesson on corporate DEI programs, our professor asked visiting attorney Ray Williams, an expert on these policies, to weigh in on what each group presented. There’s a quickly shifting legal landscape on DEI, and it was really interesting to get his feedback.”

The Federal Practice residency led by Bennett focused on the American interpretation of international law, the interconnection between domestic law and foreign relations, and the constitutional and statutory basis for the practice of international law within the federal law system, as well as the rules-based world order and what role the U.S. should play in international leadership. It included guest lectures from the federal government and agencies, as well as private practitioners of international law, including Elizabeth Loftus-Reich, Leah Bellshaw, Amy Granger, and Elizabeth Donnelly from the U.S. Department of State, Office of Legal Advisor; Will Fork, partner at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman; Nishi Gupta, regulatory advisor to cryptocurrency and blockchain companies, McDermott Will & Energy; Dan Hamilton, U.S. cyber command, Booz Allen Hamilton; and Dan Orr, partner, Womble Bond Dickinson.

Kohn’s residency on Elder Law and the issues that surround it was hosted by Board of Advisors member Vincent H. Cohen Jr. ’92, L’95 at Dechert LLP where he is a partner. The course provided practical knowledge for advising older adults and those assisting elderly friends or family members and covered topics that ranged from age discrimination and access to health care to advanced planning and guardianship and elder abuse and neglect. The impact that cognitive and physical impairments can have on an elderly person’s legal rights and the ability to exercise those rights was emphasized. Marie-Therese Connolly, coordinator, Elder Justice and Nursing Home Initiative at the U.S. Department of Justice, and senior trial counsel in the civil division, addressed the group.

At the end of the Washington, D.C., residencies, all participants were invited to an alumni networking event featuring Rostin Behnam L’05, chairman of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, held at Morgan Lewis & Bockius. Students had the opportunity to ask Behnam questions about his time at Syracuse Law, the uncertainty around crypto regulations, and a recent demand from U.S. senators for information about his meetings with Sam Bankman-Fried before cryptocurrency exchange FTX imploded.

“Many individuals supported me throughout my professional career, sharing their experiences and guiding me to look for opportunities and take chances. I can only hope to do the same for the next generation so that they can better navigate their careers.”

Rostin Behnam L’05, Chairman of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission

“Many individuals supported me throughout my professional career, sharing their experiences and guiding me to look for opportunities and take chances. I can only hope to do the same for the next generation so that they can better navigate their careers,” says Behnam. “Education has evolved so much in the past few decades, and I am incredibly impressed by the level of engagement, sophistication of the students’ questions, and their depth of understanding.”

Prashanth (PJ) Jayachandran G’98, L’98 looks at a paper during a lesson in the Corporate Sustainability residency in Washington, D.C.
Prashanth (PJ) Jayachandran G’98, L’98, chief supply chain counsel at Colgate-Palmolive, looks down at his notes during a lesson in the Corporate Sustainability residency in Washington, D.C.
Students in the Corporate Sustainability residency
Panelists
Panelists at Miller & Chevalier during the Corporate Sustainability residency.
Yan Bennett
Yan Bennett L’08, deputy chair/ course coordinator—multilateral diplomacy and climate for the Foreign Service Institute teaches the Federal Practice residency.
Students listen to panelists in a large light room
Guest lectures from the U.S. Department of State during the Federal Practice residency.
Students listen to an instructor
Professor Nina Kohn teaching during the Elder Law residency.
Rostin Behnam
Rostin Behnam L’05, chairman of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
Rostin Behnam and a student moderator sit together during a fireside chat
Rostin Behnam L’05 and student moderator, Samuel Hudzik L’24 during the fireside chat.
People gathered on a rooftop in Washington, D.C. talking in small groups. The Washington Monument is visable in the distance.

All of the recent residencies have been successful, and JDi students have given positive reviews on the content, locations, and the ability to network with alumni and, most importantly, others in their cohort.

“I cannot express my appreciation enough to my staff, members of our faculty, alumni, and other Syracuse Law partners who have made these residencies happen and given our JDi students unprecedented access to places, opportunities, and thought leaders that have certainly made an indelible impression on everyone who has attended,” says Gardner. “Our residencies have become a hallmark of our JDi program, and we will continue to promote this type of high-quality experiential learning moving forward.”

Plans for the 2024-25 academic year are already in the works and include topics like Crypto & Digital Assets, Civil Rights Litigation, and Immigration and Employment Policy scheduled to take place on the Syracuse Law campus in the fall of 2024, as well as Consumer Law and Mediation, both scheduled for Miami also in the fall of 2024. In the spring of 2025, International Human Rights and Comparative Disability Law residencies are planned for Syracuse, while Franchising Law is scheduled for Charlotte, North Carolina.

Investing in Collaboration: The Holistic Approach of the Legal-Social Work Partnership Program

A collage of two building photos, one of Dineen Hall and the other of Falk College

Veterans Serving Veterans

Syracuse University is consistently ranked as one of the best private schools for veterans in the country, and that commitment extends from supporting veterans in the classroom to serving veterans in the community. Veterans make up a major part of the Syracuse community, both on- and off-campus. Onondaga County has one of the largest veteran populations in New York, with approximately 23,000 veterans located throughout the entire region and over 5,000 in Syracuse alone. Two schools at Syracuse University, the College of Law and the Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics, came together to create a program that simultaneously teaches students important social work concepts while also putting them into practice to create a positive impact and assist the local veteran community.

The Legal-Social Work Partnership Program was established in 2023 by Falk alumna Wendy Goidel ’84, Esq. While there are law firms that employ social workers in their practices, it is still quite uncommon. Goidel, the founding and managing member of Goidel Law Group PLLC and its Estate Planning & Elder Law Center, is one of the few who is leading the way. Goidel is the founder and co-developer of Concierge Care Coordination, a holistic practice model, which merges geriatric social work with legal planning. Hoping to offer social work graduate students the opportunity to participate in fieldwork with the College of Law’s Betty and Michael D. Wohl Veterans Legal Clinic, Goidel needed to find the right social work supervisor for the program’s student. The lack of social workers operating in law, however, made it a difficult task. Goidel returned to her alma mater and met with Ken Marfilius, the Assistant Dean of Online and Distance Education and an Associate Teaching Professor in the School of Social Work.

Beth Kubala meets with students in her office

“Ken Marfilius from Falk reached out and we put our heads together about how we could start a program for a student here. It was just a great opportunity to set up an internship for a social work student to be assigned here at the Veterans Legal Clinic at the College of Law.”

Elizabeth G. Kubala, Executive Director of Clinical Education, Director of Veteran and Military Affairs, Executive Diretor of the Betty and Michael D. Wohl Veterans Legal Clinic

Marfilius’ background as a United States Air Force Veteran, specifically serving in the U.S. Air Force Biomedical Science Corps, made him the perfect candidate to start the program. While on active duty, Marfilius held many titles, including mental health therapist, family advocacy officer in charge, and manager of the alcohol and drug prevention and treatment program. Jumping on the opportunity, Marfilius reached out to Syracuse Law’s Elizabeth G. Kubala, Executive Director of the Betty and Michael D. Wohl Veterans Legal Clinic (VLC), a U.S. Army veteran who served on active duty as an Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps officer for 22 years. The clinic provides representation to veterans and their families seeking benefits from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) or upgrading a military discharge through various military branches.

“Ken Marfilius from Falk reached out and we put our heads together about how we could start a program for a student here,” Kubala said. “It was just a great opportunity to set up an internship for a social work student to be assigned here at the Veterans Legal Clinic at the College of Law.”

Together, Kubala and Marfilius were able to navigate challenges and create a program that would benefit both College of Law and Falk students as well as the local veteran community in Syracuse. The last step, however, was to find the right graduate student for the job, and beginning in the Fall of 2023, Benetta Dousuah became the Legal-Social Work Partnership Program’s first Fellow.

“While I was in the Army, a lot of people did not want to go to Behavioral Health because of the stigma associated with mental health,” Dousuah said. “Once I got out, I said ‘Wait, let me go be a social worker’ and I can someday work for the army to encourage young soldiers to get Behavioral Health help.”

Benetta Dousuah
Benetta Dousuah

A Helping Hand

Originally from Ghana, Dousuah grew up in northern New Jersey before serving in the Army for six years as a 92 Yankee, or Unit Supply Specialist. However, it was not until she witnessed, and personally experienced, poor mental health support that inspired her to pursue social work and support those who have served, or are actively serving, the country. The legal challenges veterans face are unique, typically related to the details of their service, and require a certain background and understanding to solve. As veterans age, these barriers can worsen and begin to involve different areas of their physical, social, and emotional health. With over 80% of veterans being over the age of 55, there is a tremendous demand for legal and social support.

“If you don’t have a discharge status of Honorable Discharge, you may not be entitled to certain services, specifically VA services and even VA disability compensation, which is financial assistance,” Marfilius said. “Prior to their discharge upgrade, they’re often dealing with psychosocial issues, potentially mental health issues, that could affect employment, housing, legal, et cetera.”

Without the right discharge, many veterans cannot even apply for the services that help them face these broader issues. This lack of access has only caused more hardships, with 22 veterans committing suicide each day, and thousands more struggling to navigate additional resources and assistance. While the VLC provides remarkable legal support to veterans, assigning cases to law students who are participating in the clinic course, it could not always provide broader support with other issues that may be faced in daily life. Now, with the creation of the Legal-Social Work Partnership Program, law students are introduced to the role social work can play in law and have begun to learn more about how social workers can amplify services to veterans.

“While the law students are focusing on the legal aspect of the veteran claims, I am the social work intern who connects them with services outside of the law clinic through SyracuseServes.”

Benetta Dousuah

“It doesn’t take long for a new student to dive into a case and realize I can help with the disability part, but I can’t quite help with this family law matter that the veteran is dealing with,” Kubala said. “Then the students bring Benetta into the picture, with the approval of the client, and she’ll put on her social work hat to analyze the various challenges that the veterans are facing and help connect them to local resources in the community. She’s kind of the first step in a helping hand.”

By working with Dousuah, law students are actively observing and learning various social work skills, giving them a better understanding of empathy and awareness, specifically towards the bigger picture past individual legal problems. The law students have begun to adopt more holistic approaches, realizing their limitations, and recognizing when they should find a resource that is better suited to handle certain problems. This, in turn, creates stronger student-attorney/client relationships, which results in more positive outcomes and success for veterans seeking support. As a result, more than 100 veterans were served through the Legal-Social Work Partnership Program.

After identifying additional needs, Dousuah is responsible for referring veterans to SyracuseServes, a program of the D’Aniello Institute for Veteran and Military Families. The program connects local veterans in Onondaga County with other services, allowing them to request assistance in various realms they may not be able to access otherwise. Dousuah’s initial assessment describes who the veteran is and what exactly they are looking for, leading to a more thorough intake process performed by an on-campus representative, who will then provide connections to local services, guaranteeing each veteran receives assistance unique to their case.

“While the law students are focusing on the legal aspect of the veteran claims, I am the social work intern who connects them with services outside of the law clinic through SyracuseServes,” Dousuah said.

The impact of the Legal-Social Work Partnership program not only extends to both Syracuse University students and professors but also to the broader veteran community found within Onondaga County. With hopes of only expanding the program, and even possibly becoming a model for other universities to replicate in their communities, the program will continue to reach more and more veterans across the nation. Through the Goidel Law Group Internship Fund, the program will only continue to grow as it allows for two social work graduate students to be selected as fellows each year, providing $5,000 stipends for their internship with the program.

“We’ve seen how valuable it can be when you’re assisting someone and they have additional individuals who are also invested in their success,” Kubala said. “It’s been really eye-opening to see how critical a role the social services play, and working with our local veteran population, it’s all kind of coming together at once.”

Syracuse Law Partnership with the University of Bialystok Leads to Exchange of Faculty, Ideas, and Scholarship

Andrew Horsfall, prof. and Vice Dean for International Cooperation and Development, dr hab. Izabela Kraśnicka, prof., Dean dr hab. Mariusz Popławski and Craig Boise
Andrew Horsfall, Vice Dean for International Cooperation and Development, dr hab. Izabela Kraśnicka, prof., Dean dr hab. Mariusz Popławski, prof. and Craig Boise

While the University of Bialystok and its Faculty of Law in Bialystok, Poland, may be more than 4,000 miles away from Syracuse Law, the exchange and collaboration of faculty, students, and knowledge on both sides have created a close relationship that has heightened learning on the legal, political, and cultural fronts, expanding a world view for so many, here and there, at a time when cross-cultural, global understanding may be more important than ever.

In 2016, Professor Izabela Kraśnicka, former vice dean for international cooperation and development at the University of Bialystok and head of the international department; and Professor Maciej Perkowski, head of the Department of Public International Law at the University’s Faculty of Law, were involved in a number of projects related to disability issues, including autism.

At the time, the University of Bialystok was proud to have its first Ph.D. student with autism, Maciej Oksztulski, who was working on his doctoral thesis, International Legal Standards of the Right to Education and Their Practical Implementation by National Scientific Institutions in Relation to Students on the Autism Spectrum, a comparative analysis that referenced Poland and the U.S. He had received a grant to complete further research, which required a comparative aspect to learn how foreign universities attracted and accommodated students with autism. To support Oksztulski’s work, Perkowski, who supervised his thesis, thought it was necessary to approach high-profile institutions like Harvard and Yale. Kraśnicka went to great lengths to convince Oksztulski that while those schools may hold prestige, it was also important to consider that other universities in the U.S. may be better suited to support his work.

“We needed a school that had extensive experience with supporting people with disabilities,” says Kraśnicka. After much research, she discovered Syracuse Law. Kraśnicka was drawn to the school’s Disability Rights Clinic, an initiative with a reputation for excellence directed by Associate Professor of Law Michael A. Schwartz, a supervising attorney and faculty member.

Kraśnicka coordinated with Schwartz and Andrew Horsfall L’10, assistant dean of International Programs, to arrange a visit for Oksztulski and a few faculty members from the University of Bialystok in 2017. Not only did this allow him to further his research, but he was able to see first-hand the ways autism was supported and recognized in the U.S. (Oksztulski successfully defended his thesis in 2022 and is now on the faculty at the Department of Public International and European Law at the University of Bialystok.)

From this initial collaboration, Kraśnicka and Horsfall launched a new partnership between their two institutions that would mutually benefit their faculty and students.

In 2019, Schwartz, who is deaf, was the first Syracuse Law faculty member to travel to the University of Bialystok to participate in the Axiological and Legal Aspects of Disability conference held at the University of Bialystok’s Faculty of Law to create a space for scientific research and the exchange of viewpoints regarding disability law. Schwartz presented Valuing Disability Rights: A Deaf Insider’s Perspective at the conference.

During his visit, he was hosted by the Student Legal Clinic at the University of Bialystok Faculty of Law, where he exchanged experiences with Polish students on how law clinics operate in Poland versus the U.S. His visit culminated by publishing an article, titled: Providing Effective Communication Access for Deaf People: An Insider’s Perspective in the University of Bialystok’s legal studies journal.

Soon after Schwartz’s visit, Kraśnicka identified funding available through the prestigious Erasmus+ grant program that broadened the partnership and exchange with additional Syracuse Law faculty members. The grant program, among other things, supports teaching, research, networking and policy debate on European Union (EU) topics. After coordinating with Hirsfall in May of 2022, the exchange was set up. Professors Cora True-Frost L’01 and James Baker were on their way to Poland.

“There is always a celebration when a U.S. professor comes to visit,” says Kraśnicka of True-Frost and Baker. “Our students are very interested in their experiences, and they want to see and learn from U.S. faculty and students, as well as hear about human rights from an American common law perspective.”

While in Bialystok, Baker and True-Frost were welcomed by Maria Cudowska, then a faculty member at the University of Bialystok Faculty of Law, who came to Syracuse Law for a sabbatical leave for the 2022-2023 academic year. Later, in July of 2023, Sylwia Leszczuk and Ewa Szpiganowicz, both graduates of the Faculty of Law and part of the University of Bialystok’s International Cooperation Office, came to Syracuse.

A Robust Exchange of Information

Cora True-Frost walks down the hall with a student talking
Cora True-Frost L’01

True-Frost is the Bond, Schoeneck and King Distinguished Professor of Law, director of the Journal of Global Rights and Organizational/Impunity Watch News, and a faculty advisor to the Journal of International Law and Commerce. With an interest in global and human rights, she described her visit as a “full, robust week of exchanging information.” She gave several lectures at the University of Bialystok related to her scholarship and work in international human rights law and international law, while also pursuing information on her interest in nongovernmental organizations (NGO) working in disability law and responding to Russian aggression by receiving Ukrainian refugees. NGO partners from the University of Bialystok arranged meetings with both disability advocates and recently arrived Ukrainian refugees to Poland at the time when Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had just begun.

“Experiencing and understanding world events from various perspectives is critical to my teaching and scholarship in international law,” True-Frost says. “Although I was raised in Germany as an Army brat, I had never visited, let alone worked, in Poland. The Erasmus exchange in Bialystok offered tremendous insight into the daily experience of what Russia’s invasion of Ukraine means to Eastern and Northeastern Europe.”

“As a result, the exchange deepened and broadened my own perspective of Russia’s invasion, including the calculus of my own government’s response,” she adds. “Comparing migration and disability issues in Poland with related discussions in Europe and in the United States adds texture to the basic value of dignity, the right to life and the right to not be invaded, details which I have woven into teaching disability rights law and international law. I look forward to continued collaborations with our partners in Bialystok and the region.”

Visiting Scholar Turned Fellow Embraces Opportunities at Syracuse Law

Maria Cudowska smiles and poses for the camera in a bright office space

When True-Frost and Baker first visited the University of Bialystok, they were hosted by Cudowska, who graduated from the University of Bialystok with a Ph.D. in 2019 and a post-doctoral degree in legal translation in 2021. Cudowska graduated from Michigan State University (MSU) of Law with an LL.M. She continued her research at MSU Law as a Polish American Kosciuszko Foundation research fellow in 2021. As a licensed civil facilitative mediator, Cudowska retains ties with the state of Michigan by chairing the Board of the Southeastern Dispute Resolution Services.

Cudowska never imagined she’d be spending three years in Central New York at Syracuse Law. Her expertise and collegiality with the professors from Syracuse led to a sabbatical from Bialystok, which she chose to accept. Enthusiastic about bringing her research interests to the U.S., she was on her way to Syracuse Law in the fall of 2022 for a year-long stint as a visiting scholar.

Baker and Cudowska work across a table from each other in front of a bookshelf
Cudowska and Baker

As a visiting scholar, Cudowska worked under the guidance of True-Frost researching disability rights and human rights. Cudowska’s independent research projects concerned dispute resolution, as well as climate change, national security law, and international relations. When approached to consider a two-year fellowship with the Institute for Security Policy and Law (SPL), Cudowska jumped at the chance to continue her work in the U.S.

“Organically, the stars aligned. It wasn’t planned, but there was a Research Fellow position, and I applied,” she explains. She received the fellowship, which began in August 2023 and will run for two academic years through spring 2025. Cudowska is very grateful for the support of her colleagues at Syracuse Law, especially Baker, for encouraging her to accept and for supporting her in her current role.

She spent the fall 2023 semester focused on grant writing to help move the SPL projects forward, including Ring Around Russia (RAR), while also preparing two classes that she taught this spring: National Security, co-taught with Baker; and a National Security Research Seminar, which focused on national security and climate change.

“What stands out is the collegiality coupled with the level of care, attention to detail, and help that I received on all fronts: openness, kindness, and friendliness,” she says of her experience at Syracuse Law. “I’ve developed a number of professional relationships here that have become friendships, and I have the opportunity to teach at a prestigious U.S. institution, which means a lot in terms of my experience and career. I hope to make the most of my stay here and dive into every advantage and opportunity of academic life.”

Continuing the Partnership

Michal Stokowski poses in front of Dineen Hall
Michal Stokowski

While Cudowska will continue her work in Syracuse through the 2024-25 academic year, and Baker will continue to travel back and forth in his efforts with Bialystok’s Szymanski, other faculty on both sides of the Atlantic have also been able to take advantage of the partnership:

In Spring 2023, Professor Anand pursued research on the law of the European Union on a sabbatical that took him to the University of Bialystok as a visiting scholar, Adam Mickiewicz University, also in Poland, as a visiting scholar, and to the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law in Heidelberg, Germany, as a visiting researcher.

In Fall 2023, Michal Stokowski from the University of Bialystok came to Syracuse Law to further his research on his Ph.D. thesis, The Act of August 31st, 1944: On the Punishment of Fascist-Hitler Criminals Guilty of Murdering and Abusing the Civilian Population and Prisoners of War, and Traitors to the Polish Nation, known as August Decree. Stokowski researched WWII legislation from a comparative perspective under Baker’s supervision.

R.J. Naperkowski L’23
R.J. Naperkowski L’23

R.J. Naperkowski L’23 has been working with Baker on RAR, writing grants pertinent to the rule of law, national security pedagogy, and veterans affairs. In December 2023, Naperkowski and Baker traveled to Slovakia to attend Helping Ukrainian Refugees, a Visegrad Fund V4 minigrant project, in Oravice, Slovakia, and Witow, Poland. The project’s idea arose from the general concept of the RAR, with the greater goal of helping Ukraine. It focuses on helping young people in the Visegrad and selected neighboring countries to enhance their democratic values and civic virtues. Kraśnicka, Szymanski, Baker and Naperkowski, along with their Slovak counterparts, Dr. Martin Bulla and Dr. Miroslava Mittelmannova, both from Trnava University; and Professor Miroslava Chekh from Ukrainian Catholic University were lecturing on the importance of the role of law and civil society.

Andrew Horsfall, Dean dr hab. Mariusz Popławski, Craig Boise
Andrew Horsfall L’10, Dean dr hab. Mariusz Popławski, Craig Boise during a visit to the University of Bialystok in 2024.

In March 2024, Dean Craig Boise and Horsfall made their first visit to the Faculty of Law at the University of Bialystok to meet with counterparts there in furtherance of an already well-established and robust partnership. Horsfall and Kraśnicka explored expanding the partnership into new areas, including short-term study abroad courses where students from both schools can visit the other to explore various subject matter and content of interest. They also discussed hosting exchange students at Syracuse for a semester using grant funding that Bialystok recently received through the EU’s Erasmus program. According to Horsfall, Syracuse will host its first exchange student from Bialystok in the fall of 2024 as part of this new feature of the partnership.

Office of International Programs Offers Pathways to Syracuse Law

Memorandums of UnderstandingCurrently, Syracuse Law has Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) with the following institutional partners: A map of MOUs around the world

Horsfall believes the University of Bialystok is an outstanding example of the importance of establishing relationships with international law schools, bar associations, and other partners and institutions. He notes that Syracuse Law has a number of Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) with schools throughout Europe, Asia and South America, all of which serve as a channel to bringing visiting scholars, exchange students, or those interested in the LL.M. program for foreign attorneys looking to be educated in the American legal system.

“The strong relationship we’ve developed with the University of Bialystok would not be possible without the hard work and dedication of Andrew Horsfall,” says Dean Boise. “Andrew has had the vision to see the opportunities that benefit our faculty and our students. Syracuse Law has been open to understanding the development of law both within Poland and throughout the E.U. Our partnership with Bialystok, and, in particular, Andrew’s counterpart, Izabela Kraśnicka, has facilitated that possibility, even as faculty and students there have learned from the American legal experience. Our connection with Bialystok will continue to grow and make a significant impact on both schools.”

As can be seen from just some of these examples, the expansion of Syracuse Law’s international footprint around the world has engaged faculty, students, staff, and even alumni in meaningful and exciting ways,” says Horsfall. “It continues to be a significantly worthwhile endeavor to bridge understanding across various legal cultures. I’m grateful to be working at an institution and alongside colleagues to share in these values.”

Syracuse, Bialystok Students Collaborate Through New Online Law Course

Professor Todd Berger lectures in the courtroom
Todd Berger

This spring, Professor Todd Berger, director of advocacy programs, debuted an online collaborative course with the University of Bialystok focusing on transnational alternative dispute resolution. Ten Syracuse Law students, five residential and five JDi, along with another 10 from the University of Bialystok Faculty of Law took the one-credit class, which was taught together with Dr. Marta Kuklo, a faculty member at the University of Bialystok, who is an international expert in negotiations and mediation.

The course focused primarily on negotiations, mediation, and the universality of the skills sets used in both, as well as building a cross-cultural and transnational context specifically through the comparison of how the mediation process works in the U.S. versus Poland. Several guest lecturers on transnational negotiations were invited to the class, which was a very popular component. The class was taught in English, and all the students and instructors had to navigate the six-hour time difference. Students often worked in pairs (one from the U.S., one from Poland) on experiential exercises in negotiations and mediations throughout the course.

According to Berger, the class was very successful, and plans are in the works to expand it to a 2-credit course next year. “It was a great experience to teach with someone like Marta, who is so accomplished in her field, and I learned from her myself,” he says. “And, the exposure that both students got working with others from across the world built competencies that will most certainly help them succeed in the 21st century, as it continues to be more interconnected and diverse.”

Building a Network with Frontline States

Baker on Ukrainian TV

James Baker is a professor of law at Syracuse Law and the director of the Syracuse University Institute for Security Policy and Law (SPL), as well as a professor of public administration at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. He has an extensive resumé in international law and security that includes serving as an infantry officer in the U.S. Marines, as an aide to former Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY), as legal advisor to the National Security Council, and as a chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces.

Since 2020, Baker has been working with groups in Ukraine on issues surrounding cybersecurity and artificial intelligence (AI), but, in fall 2021, his focus shifted to the pending Russian invasion of Ukraine and a series of presentations he collectively called “Everything I Would Want to Know if I Was About to Be Invaded by Russia.” The idea was to share observations from his career that might be helpful to Ukraine in the area of intelligence, intelligence oversight, crisis management, presidential command and control, the law of armed conflict, and war crimes. His presentations were widely attended by academics, lawyers, and officials in the Ukrainian government, including members of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s office.

When the opportunity to visit the University of Bialystok through an Erasmus+ grant (a European Union program to support education, training, youth and sport) came about, Andrew Horsfall, assistant dean of International Programs at Syracuse Law asked Baker if he was willing to travel to Poland at a time when that country was concerned about being next in line to be invaded by Russia. Baker didn’t hesitate, as he has a long-held interest in advising and working with the many frontline states that live in the shadow of Russia.

Baker and Charles Szymanski
Baker (left) and Charles Szymanski.

When the University of Bialystok’s Professor Charles Szymanski heard that Baker was coming to visit, he sought him out. “Jamie impressed me, and we gravitated toward one another in our common interest in international law,” says Szymanski. “Jamie believed that the frontline states that had once been occupied by the Soviet Union were behind in their development of democratic and law-based security structures, particularly now that there was a war going on next door. He wanted to help.” “They don’t have national security law as a discipline in many of the frontline states, yet,” Baker explains, which was also noted on a trip to Tbilisi, Georgia, that Horsfall and he made at the invitation of the Georgian Bar Association. “So, we decided to teach and promote the components of national security law and process as a model that frontline countries can adapt to their own laws.”

Szymanski, who is American-born and married to a Polish attorney, has extensive contacts with universities throughout the frontline states. Those connections combined with Baker’s experience created an opportunity to help frontline states with an initiative called Ring Around Russia (RAR).

Ring Around Russia Brings Network of Frontline Scholars, Universities Together Based on Shared Legal Values

Ring Around Russia (RAR): The Partnership for Law and Policy is an interdisciplinary network of scholars and universities from the U.S., Ukraine, and the frontline states committed to a vision of national security based on shared legal values and a desire to rebut Russian aggression and support European and U.S. security. Both Syracuse Law and the University of Bialystok consider RAR a promising long-term project that has only been made more urgent by Russia’s war on Ukraine.

Szymanski has been a lead at the University of Bialystok for RAR, who has helped Baker to network throughout the region and gain support for the initiative. Baker has traveled to Ukraine, Slovakia, Romania, Moldova, Georgia, Finland, and Estonia to build a network of scholars and to meet with government and military officials. Baker and Szymanski have contributed expertise and information on topics including intelligenånational security process, and anti-corruption, always while helping to articulate why Ukraine matters to NATO’s security and U.S. security.

Szymanski also had the opportunity to travel to Syracuse last summer as part of the Erasmus+ grant, where he met with Baker and other colleagues at Syracuse Law and across the University. Recently, Szymanski also joined the faculty of Syracuse Law teaching online in the JDinteractive program (JDi) from Poland.

“We’ve accomplished a lot by sharing expertise and information, or so we hope. However, the most important thing we may have done is show up. At one leading university in a frontline NATO state, my host exclaimed upon my arrival, ‘You are the first American professor we have seen in 10 years!’” says Baker. “That is the national security reason Andrew’s work and projects like this are important. They help to build the academic and cultural bonds premised on shared values that hold alliances together.”

SPL is in the process of applying for relevant grants to fund these efforts going forward.

The Institute for Security Policy and Law’s Scholarship with Ukraine Furthers Syracuse Law Status

Baker working across the table from a woman on a laptop

Baker’s contributions have only heightened the reputation of Syracuse Law and Syracuse University in the frontline states, as he draws on 20 years in academia and his career in the military, government, and policy globally.

A few of his significant contributions from just the past two years include:

  • Attending the International Academic Forum in Kyiv in April 2024, along with SPL Fellow RJ Naperkowski L’23, which was hosted by the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense and the NGO GlobSec on Military Innovations in Contemporary Warfare. Baker and Naperkowski were the only two Americans in attendance and presented a paper, “Mobilizations and Recruitment in Ukraine: Challenges and ChallenSolutions.” This was one of four recent trips for Baker to Ukraine—two others took place in 2023—where he conducted over 100 meetings with ministers, NGOs and collaborating university counterparts on RAR while representing Syracuse Law.
  • Providing a policy report on caring for Ukrainian veterans to the Ukrainian Ministry of Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine in August 2023.
  • Drafting a report, which included a chapter by Assistant Professor Lenny Grant of Syracuse’s College of Arts and Sciences and Naperkowski on treating veterans with PTSD, which was hand delivered to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy last fall.
  • Teaching a seminar, Road to Recovery, in fall 2023, as one of seven international experts—including those from Stanford University, Harvard University, and the University of Notre Dame—at Ukrainian Catholic University.
  • Making over 20 other international presentations in the frontline states and at international symposia on the importance of Ukraine to the rule of law to NATO and U.S. national security, including at King’s College London and the University of Helsinki.

“If I Do Something, I Want to be the Best at It”: International Attorney Takes on LL.M. to Learn U.S. Legal Practices

https://law.syracuse.edu/news/if-i-do-something-i-want-to-be-the-best-at-it-international-attorney-takes-on-ll-m-to-learn-u-s-legal-practices/

Chatura Patil LL.M.’24 grew up in India, where her mother and brother are doctors, and her father is a successful businessman. Her parents expected her to be a doctor, too, but she chose another route: the law. That decision put her on an interesting career path that eventually brought her halfway around the world to Syracuse Law’s LL.M. program, opening up a new world of opportunities for her.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in finance in India, Patil moved to New York City to work as an intern. In 2014, she returned to India to earn an LL.B. from Bharati Vidyapeeth University and then an LL.M. in corporate and financial law from O.P. Jinal Global Law University, a partner school of Syracuse Law. After that, her legal career began to take off, working at several law firms as an intellectual property associate, a senior legal associate, and later in contract management and compliance.

While working for Udemy, a leader in online learning, as international commercial counsel for the E.U. and Middle East region and then for North America and Canada, she came to appreciate the utility of possessing a license to practice law in the U.S. as a way to advance her career. She then decided it was time to pursue another LL.M., and she began down the path that led her to Syracuse Law.

If she was going to pursue an LL.M. in the U.S., she knew she wanted to study in New York State. Patil had always lived in big cities, so she was eager for a slower-paced, mid-size city like Syracuse.

“Syracuse Law checked off all the boxes, and I was drawn by the engagement with the faculty and the many pro bono programs and extracurricular activities I could participate in to expand my knowledge of the law. There are so many resources here. Every time I’d hear of an opportunity, I’d put it on my checklist. I decided I would check off everything on that list before I graduated.”

Chatura Patil LL.M.’24

“Syracuse Law checked off all the boxes, and I was drawn by the engagement with the faculty and the many pro bono programs and extracurricular activities I could participate in to expand my knowledge of the law,” she explains. “There are so many resources here. Every time I’d hear of an opportunity, I’d put it on my checklist. I decided I would check off everything on that list before I graduated.”

She’s done an outstanding job at accomplishing that goal. Patil has been involved in several student organizations, including the Women’s Law Student Association, of which she was the class representative this past year. She was also elected by her peers to serve as the Class of 2024 LL.M. representative to the Student Bar Association.

“American law has a very different structure from Indian law. India is a conservative and developing society, where women tend to steer towards corporate law, not litigation. When I see the legal landscape in America, especially through my work at the Volunteer Lawyers Project, I see that you don’t have to worry about your gender. There’s that difference where men and women are following the same dream in their profession.”

Chatura Patil LL.M.’24

“American law has a very different structure from Indian law. India is a conservative and developing society, where women tend to steer towards corporate law, not litigation,” she explains. “When I see the legal landscape in America, especially through my work at the Volunteer Lawyers Project, I see that you don’t have to worry about your gender. There’s that difference where men and women are following the same dream in their profession.”

She also worked as a justice fellow at the Volunteer Lawyers Project of CNY, Inc., a fellowship she started last January, and worked on immigration law matters pro bono.

Patil is grateful to a number of faculty and staff for helping her succeed in the LL.M. program. Her biggest supporter has been the Assistant Dean of International Programs, Andrew Horsfall, who “has been a mentor to me since Day 1,” she says. “He has answered my questions, let me share good news and bad, helped me choose the right classes, and just been there for me. Without Andrew, there is no LL.M. program.”

She was also struck by how accessible the professors are to students, citing Professors Paula Johnson, director of the Cold Case Justice Initiative, and Rakesh Anand, as two who have been particularly impactful to her while she was in the LL.M. program.

“Professor Johnson is just an amazing soul. She is a really busy person, but she’s very down to earth,” Patil says. “I told her how criminal law was a new subject for me and how hard it was to keep up. She gave me a one-hour recap that would have taken me two months to learn on my own,” Patil says. “And, Professor Anand is amazing. I haven’t even had him for a class, but you don’t have to be in his class for him to remember you. He is willing to talk to you and give you good career advice. I really respect him and appreciate getting feedback from him.”

Now that she has just graduated from the LL.M. program, Patil is preparing to take the New York State Bar Exam. Starting in August, Patil will be clerking for the Hon. Robert Bingham II, of the Mercer County (N.J.) criminal court. Ultimately, she would like to practice in the U.S., but she is open to wherever all of this takes her. Navigating the LL.M. program in a new country was a challenge for Patil, but one she has met quite successfully. She is glad she took a chance on herself and came to Syracuse Law to further her education.

“If I do something, I want to be the best at it. Indian parents are always pushing their children to do more. You grow up with that mindset, and you don’t see anything wrong with that,” she says of where she got the strength to pursue her dreams. “I am my parents’ daughter; nothing in life is too big to achieve.”

Professors Maintain Pipeline from Brazil and Establish New Relationships to Bolster the LL.M. Program

Professor Gidi teaching from the front of a classroom

Professor Antonio Gidi is a scholar in civil procedure and class actions, teaching a heavy course load each fall at Syracuse Law and traveling internationally during the spring and summer semesters to present papers and teach at several universities and institutions. His work has created a major pipeline for students from his native Brazil, as Syracuse Law’s LL.M. Program consists of approximately one-third of Brazilian students annually.

Gidi has extensive academic credentials as a visiting professor of law in Brazil, as well as Mexico, Italy and France. His contacts in Brazil, in particular, have allowed him access to private and public lawyers, as well as state and federal prosecutors and judges, while also giving lectures and teaching about the law to organizations within the government.

According to Gidi, Syracuse University offers the perfect academic destination for Brazilian legal professionals, and they flourish. Over the past decade, Syracuse Law has hosted dozens of judges, prosecutors, and lawyers. Most of them are prestigious mid-career professionals, some of whom already hold advanced degrees. Through their exposure to American law, they enrich their own careers, and, at the same time, contribute to the American students’ exposure to international influences. “It’s a win-win proposition,” he says.

Gidi has also recruited a number of students from Mexico, mostly graduates of the Instituo Tecnologico Autonomo de Mexico (ITAM), which tend to be a younger cohort, many of whom are recent graduates just starting out in their law careers. “They, too, benefit from the LL.M. program, as they learn more about the U.S. legal system and culture, while sharing elements of their own country’s laws with others at Syracuse Law,” he says. “Gidi is a wonderful partner for our recruitment efforts,” says Andrew Horsfall, assistant dean of International Programs. “He has been generous with his time and efforts to use his connections towards building partnerships in other countries, particularly Brazil, and he is quite successful at it. This is such a great benefit to a diverse experience for the students and faculty at Syracuse Law.”

Other members of Syracuse Law faculty have had the opportunity to visit Brazil, as well. In February, Professor Arlene Kanter, founding director of the Disability Law and Policy Program (DLPP) and faculty director of international programs, was invited to spend two weeks in Brazil meeting with judges, lawyers, and students, and lecturing about disability rights, particularly about the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities (CRPD), which she helped to draft. An internationally acclaimed expert in international law, human rights, and comparative disability law, Kanter also met with government officials, Human Rights Watch, and 10 other disability organizations to discuss their ongoing efforts to achieve greater equality and inclusion for people with disabilities in Brazil, particularly in the area of education and for those at risk for institutionalization.

Professor Arlene Kanter speaking on a panel at an event in Brazil

“I’m interested in how other countries have implemented the CRPD, which, by the way, is a treaty that the U.S. has not yet ratified,” she explains. “The disability laws are very different in many countries where I have worked, but the issues are the same—horrific conditions in institutions for people labeled mentally ill or developmentally disabled, unchecked violence against women with disabilities in institutions and in the community, denial of equal educational opportunities for children with disabilities who are sent to segregated and inferior schools, and lack of involvement by people with disabilities, themselves, in the development and implementation of the laws, policies, and practices that impact their lives. I’ve found that governments want to do right by people with disabilities, but, in many places, they just don’t know how. Brazil, for example, has enacted many excellent laws, but the hard part is implementing them. They have made great progress there, but they still have a long way to go.”

Kanter established the DLPP at Syracuse in 2007, which has recruited students with and without disabilities from all over the world to pursue careers in disability law. Her message has influenced lawyers, judges, government officials, and students in Brazil—and around the world—who come to Syracuse and study disability law through the LL.M. program. Many of those students have gone back to their respective countries to assume high level government jobs, to teach disability law, or to establish new organizations to promote disability rights.

Kanter acknowledges that despite excellent laws, much more needs to be done in the U.S. to ensure inclusion for people with disabilities in all aspects of life. “Learning from other countries is one way we can improve our own laws and practices,” she says.

After a 37-year career at Syracuse Law, Kanter retired at the end of the Spring 2024 semester. Year. But, given the ongoing requests for her assistance, she expects to continue to advocate for disability rights in the U.S. and elsewhere. In June, she traveled to Berlin at the request of the U.S. Department of State to provide training on international disability law to government offices there.

LondonEx: Syracuse Law Celebrates 45 Years in One of the World’s Most Dynamic Cities

A red double decker bus on a street with British flags hung between the buildings

Congratulations to Syracuse Law’s LondonEx Program as it celebrates 45 years of sending students abroad during the summer break to gain exposure to the British legal system and take in the culture of London.

Working with the Syracuse University London Centre, Faraday House, students from the College of Law and other ABA-accredited law schools take in an immersive experience that offers the practice of law in a global setting. The first week of the program is spent in an orientation where students gain insight into the legal system of the United Kingdom from guest lecturers, as well as tours through various “legal London” sites such as the Inns of Court, the Old Bailey, and British Parliament, as they start to understand the law beyond the U.S. system.

A large group of students and faculty pose for a photo at a long table. Large portraits hang on the wall in the background.

Students then begin six weeks of work in a professional legal setting alongside civil and criminal barristers, solicitors, and judges in the Crown Court system, human rights and international law NGOs, and others. The cohort comes together throughout the summer over evening lectures, networking events, and programming designed by the program’s co-directors, Assistant Dean Horsfall and Professor Margaret Harding.

The program typically enrolls 15-20 students each summer who have completed their 1L year. This year, Horsfall has been working in London to recruit more sites to host future LondonEx students.

Alex Stolfe headshot

“It was a fantastic opportunity to see how the English system is a bit different from the U.S. During the first week of the program, we took tours to see different places where the barristers practice. We went to Parliament and were able to speak to some of the Members and Lords, and we had the unique experience of seeing a bill passed into law.”

Alex Stolfe ’23, L’25

Alex Stolfe ’23, L’25 studied abroad in Florence, Italy, as an undergraduate, but once she joined Syracuse Law, she thought her days of international study and travel were a closed chapter. Then, she heard about the LondonEx program and was eager to spend time abroad once again, while pursuing the opportunity for an externship to gain experience unlike those of her classmates who remained in the U.S. after their 1L year.

“It was a fantastic opportunity to see how the English system is a bit different from the U.S.,” says Stolfe, who spent the summer of 2023 in London. “During the first week of the program, we took tours to see different places where the barristers practice. We went to Parliament and were able to speak to some of the Members and Lords, and we had the unique experience of seeing a bill passed into law.” Stolfe is Canadian, which made it an even more fascinating experience with yet another legal system to compare.

A large group photo

She spent the next six weeks at an externship at Withers Worldwide, a global litigation firm with expertise in a range of practice areas and legal services for private individual and business clients, art museums, high fashion and luxury brands. There, she was assigned to one of the firm’s partners in the litigation and dispute resolution practice area.

“The biggest difference for me is that the British system doesn’t seem as adversarial,” she says. “It’s very cordial with the barristers wearing their traditional beautiful wigs and robes. They addressed each other with phrases like, ‘My learned friend,’ when speaking to opposing counsel.”

Alex in an art gallery

“And, beyond the work and class experience, we made sure we got to see all of the city, including plays in the West End, group dinners, and meeting other mentors in the program, as well as alumni networking events with Syracuse graduates living and working in London.

Alex Stolfe ’23, L’25

Stolfe also had the opportunity to get to know other students spending the summer in London. “The University sets up everything for you,” she says. “And, beyond the work and class experience, we made sure we got to see all of the city, including plays in the West End, group dinners, and meeting other mentors in the program, as well as alumni networking events with Syracuse graduates living and working in London. We definitely became fast friends.”

Stolfe is very pleased that she spent time in London learning about the law in the U.K. “I’ve always been an advocate for exposing yourself to other cultures, and I’m very grateful for the LondonEx program,” she says. “It helps to create more well-rounded lawyers and better global citizens.”

A person in a trenchcoat walks passed a double decker bus