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BYU Law Seminars announced for Geneva and London

By Genelle Pugmire - | Oct 13, 2021
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BYU law students looking at overseas options for learning. (Courtesy BYU Law School)
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Professor Matthew Jennejohn, director of the new London Law Seminar. (Courtesy Nate Edwards, BYU Photo)

A handful of lucky Brigham Young University law students are going to be the first to embark on overseas studies that will parallel  internships in legal and financial institutions in Europe.

On Wednesday, BYU announced two new programs focused on preparing the next generation of leaders in the legal practice.

BYU will offer Law Seminar programs in Geneva and London beginning in winter 2022. The semester-long programs enable well-qualified students to earn credits through a combination of externships and coursework — while gaining valuable international experience to enhance their career preparation. The London and Geneva programs will be fashioned after BYU Law’s Washington Law Seminar, a successful applied learning experience launched in fall semester 2016, according to the university.

“The Washington Law Seminar has been extraordinarily successful and has provided BYU Law students with unique opportunities to leverage their experience to land preferred jobs in Washington, D.C.,” said D. Gordon Smith, dean of the J. Reuben Clark Law School. “In keeping with the mission of BYU Law to provide a graduate program that prepares students for meaningful careers and contributions in a global legal market, we are pleased to extend our law seminar offering to include international locations.”

Smith sees the Geneva and London programs as a natural next step to expanding its international leadership identity.

The Geneva Law Seminar will focus on International Trade and Human Rights while the London Law Seminar will introduce students to complex cross-border transactions and corporate governance issues. BYU Law Professor Matthew Jennejohn will direct the London Law Seminar, and Professors Cree Jones and David Moore will direct the Geneva Law Seminar. Associate Professor Carl Hernandez will supervise the externship component of both new programs, aiming to help the students gain experience and forge relationships that may lead to full-time employment.

Geneva

Home to the United Nations, the Human Rights Committee, the World Trade Organization and a long list of prominent nonprofit organizations, Geneva is a global hub for public international law.

Geneva Law Seminar participants will experience classroom instruction, distance learning and externship experience with the U.S. Embassy and other notable employers. Students will have the opportunity to live at the Geneva Government Relations Office, a facility owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that provides housing at a reasonable cost.

This winter, there is currently one student initiating the Geneva Seminar. Her practical experience will be with the United Nations Human Rights Committee.

“Quite a few of their cases are in Russia,” Jones said. “Our student speak fluent Russian.”

“These public international law opportunities are hard to get a foot in,” Jones said. He noted that connections to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in these areas, who can make introductions, has been extremely helpful and successful.

The seminar is driven by the student’s interest. Jones was in Geneva last week and was expecting to meet with six groups. Because of special introductions, he and his colleague were able to meet with 14 organizations in two days.

When the program is up and fully running Jones anticipates four students a semester will get to participate in the program.

“Tying these programs to the unique global qualifications of BYU, and the vast international and foreign language experience of its students and alumni network provides law school students with opportunities that go well beyond a study abroad program to offer invaluable experience and readiness to make an impact internationally,” said Moore, a human rights expert and associate director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies. “As we grow these programs, we are optimistic that the positive experiences of students and partners will enable us to expand the depth of partners to build out our network and subsequent international graduate placement.”

London

The London Law Seminar builds upon the significant investments the BYU Law program has made recently in its corporate faculty, research and curriculum. In the corporate space, the law school has launched a New York-based Deals Academy in cooperation with Kirkland & Ellis; hosts the Annual Winter Deals Conference in Park City, which is sponsored by leading organizations such as Wilson Sonsini, PwC, and Bloomberg; and regularly places graduates at top law firms in New York, Washington, D.C., and across Silicon Valley in California.

The London Law Seminar extends the law school’s growing presence in North American financial centers to the international stage, according to the university.

The London Law Seminar comprises three parts: an externship experience at a leading financial institution or law firm in the city, in-person classes and a distance-learning component covering topics such as mergers & acquisitions, initial public offerings and other cross-border deals. London Law Seminar students will have the opportunity to live at the BYU London Centre, a BYU-owned facility that provides housing at a reasonable cost in central London.

“This program is much more expansive than a traditional study abroad program in that, in addition to their coursework, our students will be immersed in the day-to-day work of a top private equity fund, investment bank or corporate law firm at the heart of one of the world’s most vibrant financial hubs,” said Jennejohn. “Students will gain experiences, skills and a perspective from working ‘on the ground’ in a fast-moving international market that will prepare them for a lifetime of professional and personal service.”

Jennejohn has studied in England and knows the benefits of cross-borders training. In preparing students for these over seas semester seminars students are encouraged to focus their studies on business and corporate law.

“A lot of their prep time is during the seminar,” Jennejohn said.

He noted the advantages for the students include building relationships across borders and the ability to work in major financial areas in the U.S. but working with others outside the country.

The first semester in London will have three or four students but Jennejohn is hoping that will build up to six as COVID-19 wanes.

“My job is to be in London a few times during the semester,” Jennejohn said. “The semester begins the first week of January and runs through the second week of April.”

One of the biggest advantages for BYU students is that many of them have already had an overseas experience as missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. That gives them an edge over other law schools, according to Jennejohn.

BYU is taking applications now for both new programs, with the London program open to BYU Law students. The law school anticipates offering the Geneva and London Law Seminar programs each semester going forward, COVID-19 travel permitting.

The J. Reuben Clark Law School is routinely recognized for innovative research and teaching in social change, transactional design, entrepreneurship, corpus linguistics, criminal justice and religious freedom.

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