- Gordian, you have had a long association with McGeorge that continues today. Could you please tell us when you did your LLM studies and what the program was like at that time?
My connection to McGeorge does indeed go back a long way. In fact, McGeorge has been an instrumental part of almost my entire professional career. I took the LLM in Transnational Business Practice in ‘94/’95. This was a great, life-changing experience for me, both on a professional and personal level! This high-level program perfectly prepares you to practice in the international arena. As for my personal experience, let me simply say that many of my friends, almost in all corners of the globe, are former classmates or students of mine from McGeorge. The allegiance to McGeorge is shared by nearly all alumni and lasts a lifetime!
It had always been crystal clear in my mind that I wanted to attend a postgraduate Master’s program in the U.S. Although there were a substantial number of LLM programs in the U.S. back then, I only applied to McGeorge, because the program had a ‘unique selling point’ in that it combined excellent education on campus with a 3-month-internship abroad, which made it even more appealing to me. A slightly modified version of this program is still offered by McGeorge today, beginning with the fall semester on campus, followed by a four-month internship abroad.
- After McGeorge, what was your career path and what type of practice do you have today?
Before I took the LLM at McGeorge, I had already been practicing law in the international arena for almost three years. At that time, I was already fortunate enough to be active in the exciting field of IP law, which inevitably takes you into jurisdictions around the globe. With this international spirit in mind, it seemed only logical to take the LLM in Transnational Business Practice at McGeorge, which helps prepare you not only to survive, but to truly engage in an international practice!
- You have been very active with the IBOA over the years. When did you join the IBOA? Could you please describe some of the activities in which you have participated?
I have been an active member of the McGeorge family ever since my studies in Salzburg and Sacramento in ‘94/’95. From the very first year, we hosted legal interns in our various offices worldwide; one year even three students at the same time. Additionally, as of the year 2000, I started, together with our firm, to organize and sponsor the Friday evening receptions at the biannual alumni reunions. Over the following years, I also became involved in putting together the academic program for the alumni events, together with Keith Pershall and, more recently, Nora Klug, ’01. When I was asked to join the IBOA some 10 or 12 years ago, I naturally felt privileged and honored.
- What do you see as some of the biggest challenges in international practice today?
Some of the biggest ongoing challenges for the international law practice include issues related to enforcing international laws, the emergence of new technologies that create new legal issues, navigating complex geopolitical conflicts and addressing global challenges such as climate change and cyber security. One obvious area with multiple challenges is the relatively new phenomenon of artificial intelligence, which should not only be seen as a source of evil, as it is by many, but also as a helpful tool. The greatest threat I have observed in the past 8 – 10 years, however, is the shift from globalism to nationalism in many parts of the world, and the isolationism that comes with it. This makes it more difficult to maintain a functioning cross-border dialog, which in turn is essential to protect the fundamentally important principle of the Rule of Law. McGeorge’s Master’s programs, which focus on internationality and intercultural understanding, among other things, are invaluable assets for not only conducting this dialog, but also actively shaping it.
- Do you have any advice for those who would like to engage in an international practice?
Engaging in international legal practice can be a rewarding and challenging career. It wouldn’t do it justice to only highlight a few of the numerous tools that are helpful to successfully navigate the international arena. Of course, successful client work requires brilliant lawyering, which in turn begins with a solid education. In addition, proficiency in multiple languages is a significant asset. What’s more, openness to and understanding of different cultures and legal systems is crucial for effective communication and negotiation in international settings. Be prepared for a dynamic and ever-changing field and uphold the highest ethical standards and professionalism in your practice. And keep in mind: reputation and respect are essential characteristics in the international legal community. Legal practice in the international realm can be highly competitive, but with dedication and the right skill set, you can make a significant impact in this field!
- Any other thoughts about McGeorge and its international programs?
McGeorge is more than just an excellent law school; it’s like a big family that continues to grow, virtually spanning the entire globe. And last but certainly not least, I can say in all honesty that my career would not have been as successful without McGeorge!