International Lawyers Study at ONU, Learn at Supreme Court to Help Reform Homelands
By Csaba Sukosd | November 28, 2018
Even after law school and the bar exam, an attorney never stops learning about the law. Twelve lawyers from Africa, Europe, and South America are taking their education to another level in Ohio.
All the individuals from Albania, Iceland, Kosovo, Nigeria, Tanzania, Venezuela, and Zambia are enrolled in an LL.M. -- master of laws - program seeking additional expertise in U.S. and international law at Ohio Northern University's (ONU) Pettit College of Law.
"I love this country because of the opportunities it offers and the diversity and the level of education, and, above all, the practical sense that they have on everything," said Almona Bajramaj, an Albanian diplomat, who's worked and trained in foreign service throughout Europe.
The one-year program is an advanced law certification with global credibility that revolves around democratic governance and rule of law. It's the only such specialization offered in the United States.
"It's based on comparative laws and it's not only learning, it's very interactive because we learn with people from different countries," said Nana Mpande, a legal officer at a non-governmental organization in Zambia.
One of the greatest allures of the program is the varying perspectives in practices from different parts of the world. To date, lawyers from 39 countries have participated in LL.M. programs at ONU with the goal of promoting rule of law reform in their nations.
"We're here to share experiences, share knowledge, exchange ideas, and see how things work here. Then you are able to relay it back home and see how you can use your experience [there]," said Maroof Giwa, who's worked in various capacities for the Nigerian Immigration Service since 1986.
Along with their studies and practical applications, they also visit courts - such as Ohio Supreme Court -- to see in person how operations and legal proceedings are handled.
"It is quite an imposing building, I must confess, and awesome, too, because I never thought that the building could be as beautiful as this," said Giwa.
While each individual was impressed with the aesthetics of the Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center, they also found educational elements they could implement in their native countries.
"The civic education room was very impressive. I work for a civil society back home and a component of that is access to justice. So, when I saw that, I'm thinking 'Wow!' At least case law is not [reserved] for the lawyers," said Mpande. "Even a [seventh grader] can go in and get some education because it has been simplified into literature and some very educative art [where] a picture speaks 1,000 words. So, I thought this is very good that I could actually help adopt back home."