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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.

International Law Under Pressure

Professor True-Frost walks and talks with a student in a bright hallway

Written by:
Professor Cora True-Frost G’01, L’01
Bond, Shoeneck & King Distinguished Professor
Laura J. and L. Douglas Meredith Professor for Teaching Excellence, 2024-2027

International law sets the ground rules for state collaboration and conflict resolution. In the tumultuous times in which we are living, the processes for establishing and enforcing those rules are under pressure. It’s an increasingly multipolar global environment, in which strong countries take action in the absence of a clear international leader; uncertainty, not order, increasingly reigns.

With its five permanent, veto-wielding members, the United Nations Security Council (SC or Council) sits at the apex of international power.1 It is the sole UN organ mandated to take decisive and legally binding international-level enforcement action with the aim of avoiding conflict and maintaining international peace and security.2 For some time now, the SC has mostly been unable and unwilling to respond to multiple threats to international peace and security. These threats include global problems such as COVID-19, climate change, cyberwarfare, and interstate conflicts, all of which certainly require interstate comity and global solutions based on international law. This short piece offers an overview of three recent developments at the SC contributing to its inaction as well as a number of innovative attempts by the United Nations General Assembly (GA or Assembly) to address gaps left by SC inaction. It closes by reflecting on of the assertion of UN Secretary-General Guterres that if institutions don’t reflect the world as it is, “it is reform or rupture.”3

The UN Charter

The UN Charter-based international order created after World War II is a forum in which states convene and collaborate to maintain peace; fight and prevent terrorism; pursue sustainable development goals; address climate change; terrorism; and emerging issues. Although this order is far from perfect, since the end of the Cold War, states were willing to collaborate sufficiently that the period saw an increase in aggregate wealth and a gradual
slowing of civilian deaths globally.4

More recently, UN-led efforts to maintain international law and peace have been stymied, as states resort not only to violence in violation of international law, but also employing “economic statecraft” against each other through tariffs, sanctions, and withdrawal of loans.5

Permanent, veto-holding members of the SC (the P5), especially the United States, Russia, and China, are again embroiled in deep contests and competing narratives of world order, far more reminiscent of darker Cold War days. In this precarious multilateral environment, with the U.S. in a weakened position after its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, deep distrust and divisions among the P5 rankle and veto use again becomes the norm, even as the Council has faced, in 2023 alone, the significant escalation of conflict in the Middle East, the impacts of the continued Russian offensive in Ukraine, and multiple continuing conflicts in seven countries on its agenda as well as flareups with missile launches in North Korea and crises in Azerbaijan and Armenia.6 Specifically, three recent trends in the Council have affected its ability to function: 1) the use of the veto to prevent action in Syria, Ukraine, and the Middle East, and to stop existing interventions; 2) Chinese and Russian objections to seemingly trivial procedural working methods, and 3) backlash in the area of peacekeeping and sanctions by host countries with support from permanent members of the SC.7 In 2023, Mali and Sudan, peacekeeping mission host governments, abruptly fired two established UN peace operations, requiring the SC to draw down the missions rapidly.8 In addition, Russia used its veto to block the continuation of an existing sanctions regime in Mali and the continuation of the 2014 aid delivery mechanism for Syria.9 With tensions high, every Council action is contested, for example, Russia objects to procedures such as a video appearance to the Council, or China objects to a meeting format, which has been wellestablished.10

At present there is no viable global alternative to replace the SC, despite the existence of regional and sub-regional organizations, which are assuming increasing roles. Bodies, like the G7, G20, or OAS, might manage internal security relations of their clubs but do not bring all parties to the table, making them insufficient substitutes for the SC.

Enter the UN General Assembly

In light of the Council’s intransigence, GA members have been working in at least four ways to overcome SC inaction. The GA, the UN’s most representative organ, lacks the power to authorize the use of military power or bind member states. It holds the power of the purse, however, and its efforts to exert “soft” power over the SC can be effective. I outline here a few ways the GA is working, 1) collaborating with SC members in the face of veto use; 2) adopting the “Veto initiative”; 3) establishing an Accountability, Coherence, and Transparency group; and finally, 4) exploring possibilities for SC reform.

When Russia used its veto to block SC inaction in the wake of its invasion of Ukraine, the GA collaborated with SC members supporting action. The SC used the 1950 Uniting for Peace Formula, which had been unused for forty years, to send the issue of Ukraine to the GA. The GA was able to adopt a resolution condemning Russia’s aggression in an emergency special session of the GA, marking Russian aggression as a significant violation of international laws.11

In a perhaps more lasting, procedural action, because of the Ukraine gridlock, on 26 April 2022, Liechtenstein pushed forth “The Veto Initiative.” 12 The initiative requires the president of the GA to convene a meeting within ten working days of the casting of a veto by one or more permanent members of the SC to hold a GA debate on the situation as to which the veto was cast, provided that the Assembly does not meet in an emergency special session on the same situation; and it “invites” the Council to submit a report on its use of the veto 72 hours before the relevant discussion. In at least one case, a vetoing state provided its explanation to the GA before it convened in association with this resolution. In May the U.S. explained 13 its 16 April veto of Palestinian statehood to the GA which was meeting14 according to this veto initiative.

In a further effort to promote appropriate action from the SC some GA members have also established the Accountability, Coherence, Transparency Group (ACT)15 which aims to promote a transparent, efficient UN, and seeks greater inclusivity and wider membership in the Council. In 2015, the ACT group created a Code of Conduct with which, as of May 2023, 129 GA states have agreed.16 The Code affirms that states elected to the SC will act to discharge SC membership according to terms of the Charter and not their individual state interest in cases of genocide, crimes against humanity, or war crimes.17 This was a France/Mexico initiative to model the behavior sought from all SC members. Many incoming Council members including Greece, Panama, and Somalia, have signed the code of conduct regarding SC action against genocide, crimes against humanity, or war crimes.

Finally, the GA is also continuing to pursue the difficult prospect of SC reform, specifically by exploring proposals for broadening the Council, which ultimately the SC must approve.18 In this regard, it is notable that in 2023, the US President was one of at least ten world leaders gathering at the GA, to call for SC reform.19

There is no shortage of situations that the world’s UN Charter was designed to address, and which will go unaddressed unless efforts like these succeed in uprooting the SC’s current dysfunction. With persistent self-interest among the permanent members of the SC, a worry in international law is that we may face not only the ravages of escalating conflicts but also the decline or collapse of the SC and the United Nations order, with no available, realistic substitute.


1 See, Cora True-Frost, The Security Council and Norm
Consumption
, 40 N.Y.U. J. INT’L L. & POL. 115, at 129-44,
174-81 (2007). The author thanks Nik Merz and Lauren
Marsh for excellent research assistance.

2 U.N. Charter art. 42, ¶ 1.

3 António Guterres, Secretary-General, General Assembly,
Secretary-General’s address to the General Assembly (Sept.
19, 2023) (transcript available online at https://www.
un.org/sg/en/content/sg/speeches/2023-09-19/secretarygenerals-
address-the-general-assembly
). Secretary-
General Urges Statesmanship, Not Gamesmanship and
Gridlock’ to Resolve Global Challenges, Geopolitical
Tensions, Opening Annual General Assembly Debate,

UN Meetings Coverage and Press Releases
(Sept. 19, 2023),https://press.un.org/en/2023/
ga12530.doc.htm#:~:text=%E2%80%9CWe%20
cannot%20effectively%20address%20problems,or%2
rupture%2C%E2%80%9D%20he%20underscored.

4 See, John Toye & Richard Toey, The UN and Global
Economy: Trade, Finance, and Development passim
(United Nations Intellectual History Project ed., 2004);
Joelle Hageboutros, The Evolving Role of the Security
Council in the Post-Cold War Period
, 1 Swarthmore Int’l
Rel. J. 10, 14-17 (2016).

5 See, Sören Scholvin & Mikael Wigell, Geo-economic
Power Politics: An Introduction
, in GEO-ECONOMICS
AND POWER POLITICS IN THE 21ST CENTURY: THE
REVIVAL OFECONOMIC STATECRAFT 1 (Mikael
Wigell, Sören Scholvin & Mika Aaltola eds., 2018); Vinod K.
Aggarwal & Andrew W. Reddie, Economic Statecraft in the
21st Century: Implications for the Future of the Global Trade
Regime
, 20 World Trade Rev. 137 (2021).

6 In Hindsight: The Security Council in 2023, SECURITY
COUNCIL REPORT
(Jan. 1, 2024)
https://www.securitycouncilreport.org/monthly-forecast/
2024-01/in-hindsight-the-security-council-in-2023.php
.

7 Id.

8 Id.

9 Id.

10 Id.

11 The no votes on the resolution came from five
authoritarian nations: North Korea, Eritrea, Syria, Russia,
and Russia’s close ally Belarus. See generally, S.C. Res.
2623 (Feb. 27, 2022); U.N. GAOR, 11th Emergency
Spec. Sess., 5th plen. mtg. at 14, U.N. Doc. A/ES-11/PV.5
(Mar. 2, 2022); G.A. Res. ES-11/1 (Mar. 18, 2022).

12 G.A. Res. 76/163 (Apr. 26, 2022).

13 See, Rep. of the S.C., at 4-5, U.N. Doc. S/PV.9609. See
generally, In Hindsight: Applying to be a Member of the
UN: The Palestinian Case, Security Council Support

(Apr. 30, 2024) https://www.securitycouncilreport.org/
monthly-forecast/2024-05/in-hindsight-applying-to-bea-
member-of-the-un-the-palestinian-case.php
.

14 Meeting Two Weeks after United States Vetoes Security
Council Resolution Recommending Full UN Membership
for Palestine
, General Assembly Debates Ramifications,
UN Meetings Coverage and Press Releases (last visited
Jun. 16, 2024) https://press.un.org/en/2024/ga12595.
doc.htm
.

15 The United Nations Security Council, UN Office on
Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to
Protect, https://www.un.org/en/genocideprevention/
security-council.shtml
(last visited Jun. 17, 2024).

16 Id.

17 Id.

18 See, G.A. Dec. 62/557, U.N. Doc. A/63/49 (Vol. III), at
106 (Sept. 15, 2008); G.A. Res. 75/1 (Sept. 28, 2020).
See generally, G.A. Res. 76/307, (Sept. 12, 2022).

19 Joseph Biden, Remarks by President Biden Before the
77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly
(Sept. 21, 2022) (transcript available online at https://
www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/speechesremarks/
2022/09/21/remarks-by-president-bidenbefore-
the-77th-session-of-the-united-nations-generalassembly/
).

Professor Katherine Macfarlane on Mask Ban Laws: “It Sends a Bit of [an] Authoritarian Chill Down My Spine”

Professor Katherine Macfarlane, director of the Disability Law and Policy Program, discussed the growing trend of states and cities enacting mask bans with NBC News.

In the article “Mask bans are growing in popularity. Critics call the trend a ‘dog whistle’ to quell protest”,

Macfarlane, who has a disability and considers herself high risk, questions how a mask ban takes into account the safety of people like her with health vulnerabilities. She also doubts that increasing “high-stress” interactions with the police will yield positive results and feels it’s unfair to put the burden on immunocompromised people to share health concerns that are not visible to the naked eye.

“That doesn’t lend itself well to a safe interaction,” she said. “It makes me really nervous about the right to protest, the right to attend a political rally.”

A Student’s Reflection on the Criminal Defense Clinic: Lu Weierbach L’25

Lu Weierbach meets with a fellow student in the Law Library in Dineen Hall
Lu Weierbach L’25

I took Criminal Defense Clinic during my second-year Fall semester. I found this course to be one of the most valuable learning experiences during my law school education, primarily because:

  • I was afforded the opportunity to practice the legal skills I have learned, and
  • I received close mentorship from a licensed attorney and professor.

Though I was the only second-year law student in the class and likely the only one who hadn’t taken a course on evidence or client counseling, I found that the client and court-facing encounters came seamlessly. I suspect this is because I had led soldiers and reported to commanders during my time as an Infantry officer in the U.S. Army. The skills that I acquired prior to law school, namely interpersonal communication, and attention to detail, served me well as I conducted client interviews and court appearances.

During the course of the semester, my partner and I represented approximately seven clients from arraignment to disposition. In most of these appointments, we met the client in the courtroom on the day of their arraignment. This is typical in the Syracuse City Court system as it is in many jurisdictions throughout the country. Per the limitations of our appointment order, our clients all faced infractions or misdemeanors in the Syracuse City, Town of Geddes, or Village of Skaneateles Courts.

Our representation included client intake counseling, District Attorney negotiations, regular client meetings, and court appearances. My partner and I met weekly with Professor Gary Pieples, Director of the Criminal Defense Clinic, who was the counsel of record for each case. In these meetings, we informed our professor of what we learned during our client meetings, conversations we planned to have with the District Attorney, legal research regarding the case, and any other legal or ethical issues that might arise. Our professor, who has decades of criminal law experience, advised us on the best way forward for each case. These meetings synthesized the legal concepts we learned in our substantive classes with the practicalities of real-world practice. Our reference point for most of the issues we encountered was the New York State Criminal Law Handbook —which is a volume that includes New York Penal Law and procedure, inter alia – and case law which we referenced either on Lexis or Westlaw.

The most rewarding aspect of the Criminal Defense Clinic was seeing clients to an amenable disposition. Many of our clients were first time offenders who came from underserved populations within the Syracuse metropolitan area, the folks who most needed competent, zealous advocacy. It was my honor to serve them and our community.

Professor Michael Schwartz Visits the University of World Economy and Diplomacy in Tashkent, Uzbekistan

Michael Schwartz with a large group of people in Uzbekistan

This spring, Professor Michael Schwartz, Director of the Disability Rights Clinic, Office of Clinical Legal Education at the College of Law visited the University of World Economy and Diplomacy’s (UWED) law clinic in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Schwartz visited UWED to investigate the prospects for collaboration with Syracuse Law as UWED is seeking to expand its law clinic to address disability rights issues. In eleven meetings over four days, Professor Schwartz addressed law clinic faculty and students, along with Deaf students from a local high school, and members of the law enforcement and judicial communities.

Schwartz was also interviewed on Uzbek TV about his visit, which was captioned by Mirjakhon Turdiev, an Uzbek graduate student affiliated with Maxwell School’s Global Affairs Program. In his interview, Schwartz stated, “We would like to establish relations in Uzbekistan to create a new system for the protection of the daily rights of persons with disabilities. For this purpose, I came to your country. Uzbekistan has ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and this is really wonderful, now it is time to fully implement the rights shown in this convention. During my career as a lawyer, I achieved the release of a deaf man who was unjustly sentenced to 12 years in prison, as well as the release of a blind man who was sentenced to 33 years in prison for murder. There are many people with disabilities who have become innocent victims of such crimes. For this reason, every person should first of all know their rights and be properly protected.”

Prospects for a collaboration between UWED and Syracuse Law are bright. “There is much work to do to help Uzbekistan in meeting its obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This work will also benefit Syracuse’s law students as they acquire knowledge of international human rights law,” says Schwartz.

Transactional Law Clinic Helps Neezen Toze Theater Company Get On Stage

Over several semesters, students from the Transactional Law Clinic, under the supervision of director Jessica Murray, helped the Neezen Toze Theater Company in Tully, New York, complete several legal matters for the not-for-profit specializing in original children’s and family-oriented productions.

Trisha Black L’24, Amanda Hepinger L’23, Zebedayo Masongo L’23, Michael Ortizo L’24, Matthew Patrizio L’24, and Andrea Rojas L’23 drafted and filed a Certificate of Incorporation with New York State, drafted bylaws and other organizational documents, applied to the IRS for recognition of tax-exempt status, registered with the New York State Attorney General’s Charities Bureau, applied to New York State for exemption from State Franchise and Sales taxes, and provided ongoing counsel to Neezen Toze leadership.

“On behalf of everyone associated with Neezen Toze, I would like to thank you for your diligence, kindness, patience, and effectiveness as our advocates in this, a process that would have likely taken us much longer (if we’d been able to complete it at all). Matthew and Michael, while you helped us over the finish line, we are well aware that this was a process shepherded by numerous members of the Clinic’s student staff and are eternally grateful for the help and support we received. I am not being hyperbolic when I say that I can’t imagine having done this by myself. Congratulations on your upcoming graduations, and best wishes in your future endeavors!” wrote Michael Lipton, Creator and President of Neezen Toze.

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.”