International Program Testimonials
Chekwume Ufoegbune ‘19
In the Czech Republic, PRK Partners, the firm where I externed, is known for being a multifaceted law firm that handles deals and performs legal services to a wide range of clientele. My supervisors really piqued my interest in the legal profession and allowed me to work with attorneys in many of the different types of law which they cover. The lawyers there were kind enough to allow me to participate in lectures, presentations, and company meetings which exposed me to interesting fields of practice such as data protection and data privacy, as well as international intellectual property. As I am on course to specialize in intellectual property, I hope to better understand its global impact and use the skills I received to provide a benefit to my education here at USF. A major goal I sought out during the course of the externship was to bolster my research skills in the field of International law while also delving into intellectual property law and business law. In Prague, I was able to grow and develop with respect to my legal research skills, as my research became much more defined and honed in on the dealings and regulations that affect so many countries worldwide. An experience like this creates a noticeable difference between me and other law students because I know that employers will see this opportunity as a moment that enhanced my understanding of global advocacy and my ability to handle complex projects This is a pivotal time in my law career and thanks to this experience I am on the right path to becoming a successful attorney of the law.
Paul Anton ‘19
This past summer, I worked at Trevisan & Cuonzo in Milan, Italy through USF's international summer externship program. My main job at the firm was to edit and revise cease and desist letters and advisory letters to clients to improve the English. By doing this, I got hands on experience, learning exactly what goes into these documents. I even tried my hand at drafting some of these documents myself. This was invaluable experience that will help me adjust to any law firm. I have real, practical experience in legal work now. I couldn't be happier with the experience. Interestingly enough, the law in Italy is very similar to the law in the US and I am seeing overlap in many aspects of the law and the way letters are written to clients. The first year of law school was tough and made legal work seem like a daunting task, but this externship has shown me the real side of working in a firm, with smart, friendly lawyers who were eager to help me learn and grow.
Dolly Nguyen '18
For the Summer of 2016, I wanted to take my legal knowledge global. That decision led me to Southeast Asia in Hanoi, Vietnam, where I currently work for the United Nations as a Summer Extern for the United Nations Development Programme helping Viet Nam overcome its emerging challenges on its way to sustainable development.
The most exciting part of my job so far is helping the Viet Nam Law and Legal Forum revise and rewrite the official English language translation of Vietnam’s new Criminal Procedure Code, created as a testament to the Vietnamese people—moreover, the world—of their stance on improved political transparency and human rights. Their new induction into the G7 Summit is one step in the many already taken to show their seriousness in contributing to global issues in the Asia-Pacific region and the world in general.
As an extern, I get to work alongside UNDP volunteers with law degrees from around the world. This unique and valuable experience of learning how to reconcile distinct, yet equally valid legal approaches against what I have been taught this past year is something I could not have practiced in a typical law firm back home. In revising the Criminal Procedure Code, I gained a better understanding of how laws are written and the importance of writing laws relevant to your people’s needs. The extensive research I am able to conduct on topics related to helping a nation’s governance, stability, and rapport with its people is exclusive to organizations like the UN.
This summer’s placement will help me in my career by supplementing my practical work experience with a world-renowned organization, praised for its ability to tackle relevant issues from the ground up. In today’s global market, demonstrating your adaptability in various environments and ability to sharpen interpersonal skills both in the office and outside of it are skills every employer can appreciate. Placing myself in a foreign country, to work on issues I had little to no experience in, with the result of being asked to present on the UN’s behalf, is the kind of exceptional opportunity that my experience this summer will add to my career.
John McDonough II ‘17
I was driven to attend law school based on the interdisciplinary adage “think globally, act locally.” During my first year of law school, I decided what better way to act on this than to participate in USF’s International Externship Program for the summer of 2015. Having been able to work internationally before in Kigali, Rwanda, I wanted to further my international experience by working in the rapidly developing and complex legal environment in China.
After applying and being accepted into USF’s Beijing Externship Program, I began working at Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton as a Summer Associate. Through my experience with Sheppard Mullin, I was immersed in various projects regarding corporate formation and securities issues. My projects ranged from jurisdictional research for the creation of offshore holding companies to the formation of wholly foreign owned enterprises for different joint venture scenarios. Working and living abroad teaches you to learn to appreciate your surroundings, and Beijing offers a mixture of history, culture, and modernity that one can truly get lost in – seriously, I recommend getting lost in one of the alleyways off any main road – you never know what you will find.
One of the best experiences in my legal career to date was having one of my first assignments at the firm be published on Sheppard Mullin's China Law Update Blog. I was tasked with assessing the practical implications of newly released stock market regulations on margin trading and short selling. Let me tell you, leaving a managing partner’s office after they tell you they want your work to be published is one of those, “I can do this” experiences which is invigorating and rewarding after all the anxiety of your 1L year.
Feel free to check out the link to the posting below, and I hope you will consider embracing that old adage and think globally about your law school experiences and professional opportunities.
Professor Jeff Brand - USF Director Vietnam Summer Externship Program 2015
"Summer externships in developing countries provide a unique opportunity for our students to experience other legal cultures, other ways to resolve disputes, and other perspectives about the role of law in society. It turns out that as wonderful as our system is (and it truly can be), we don't have a monopoly on justice, and the more we understand that, the more chance there will be for a global community that really is just and humane. We can learn so much by trying to stand in the shoes of others. That's why I love our programs. Being in developing countries may make us feel uncomfortable at times, but it is in those moments of discomfort that we truly learn."
Russell Leu, ‘84
On-Site Director, USF China Summer Externship Program
Special Counsel, Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP
Associate Dean & Professor of Law, School of Law,
Beijing Foreign Studies University
"International experience will help you to look at people, laws and problems from a very different mindset – you learn how to think outside the box to arrive at practical solutions."
Donald A. Cespedes '15
Participating in the International Externship program was easily one of the best experiences of my life. I had the opportunity to immerse myself in an area of law that I was passionate about from an international perspective. This allowed me to look more critically at how law is practiced in the U.S., and compare and contrast that with how the law is practiced in other countries. While this experience in itself was invaluable, my overall experience extended far beyond that. What I took away was an enhanced perspective on life. Before doing this program, I had never been to Europe. I had heard and learned lots about it, but as many of us come to learn (especially in law school), learning about something and actually experiencing it are two completely different things. Having the opportunity to experience Europe was life changing for me. It allowed me to develop a level of understanding and cultural sensitivity that I may never have developed had I not chosen to do this program. It is so important that we understand that there is a whole world out there; a world that we are a part of and need to understand. There is simply too much beyond our scope of vision for us to close our eyes to and ignore. It is up to us to go beyond the wall and see what is over the horizon. I strongly believe that doing this will enhance us not only professionally, but also on personal level. These kinds of experiences are what help to make us more complete and well-rounded individuals. Finally, this experience was an eye opener to me in the way that it made me realize that the opportunities are abundant, but availing ourselves to these opportunities requires that we step outside of the box, and think on a larger scale; an international scale.
I went on mostly about the personal benefits from participating in this program, but of course, we want to know “how will this benefit me professionally?” “Will it enhance my legal resume?” and most importantly, “will it help me get a J.O.B.??” I will answer that question from my own personal perspective. I think that depending on the area of law that you are looking to practice, ANY kind of international experience will benefit and enhance your resume. International experience is something that certainly will not hurt you, and benefits us all to have. I mentioned before that it makes for a more well rounded individual. A more well rounded individual translates to a more well rounded applicant. While the benefits to this program are enhanced exponentially if you are seeking to work somewhere that has international dealings; even in the absence of that; at the bare minimum, it strikes one’s curiosity, and allows for a topic of discussion where you can then sell yourself further. It adds color to a black and white resume, and with the oversaturation of lawyers and piles of resumes out there, color is a good thing. International experience is becoming more and more relevant in the legal profession, and anyone who can get a jump on it, instantly stands out. I can honestly say that it has helped me in that regard.
That is what I got from this program, and I think this is one of the best opportunities that a law student can take advantage of. If you are still not sold on it yet, then just know that beyond the personal and professional enrichment that you gain, the program is FUN! (A word we don’t hear often in the same sentence as Law School). If IP isn’t your cup of tea, then I strongly urge you to seek out one of the other International Externship programs. Simply put, JUST DO IT! (No affiliation to Nike).
Max Hyatt '15
For the 2014 summer, I was working with Baker & McKenzie in their Mergers and Acquisitions practice group located in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. It was a remarkable experience to be working alongside legal and business thought leaders in a country, which is rapidly trying to develop their legal framework to encourage economic, cultural and social development. Whether it be working on a multi-million dollar cross border acquisition deal or researching changes to foreign direct investment, the concepts and ideas I was interfacing with had an immediate real impact on the business and legal life in Vietnam. My experience this summer is invaluable to my career as I am looking to work in international M&A and cross-border corporate governance. The experiences outside of my externship with my fellow USF externs provided just as much value as the work I was doing at the firm. Whether it was going on a weekend trip to an island off the coast of southern Vietnam or spending a night eating street food in a small alleyway, the laughter and stories will never be forgotten. I feel a special connection to all of those who were on the program and am sure we will be retelling stories from our summer for many years to come. Spending the summer in Vietnam was the best experience of my legal education to date and I have plans to return in the future.
Anna Nagornaia '16
Minh Le '16
This summer I took an externship position at the United Nations Development Programme in Hanoi, Vietnam. My work there involved a lot of comparative research and policy work with regard to the Vietnamese penal code and procedures. As the country is currently going through a period of amendment to its constitution and penal code, the government of Vietnam and Ministry of Justice sought the UN’s assistance in reviewing their draft proposals and providing recommendations to further strengthening the rule of law in the country. I worked with my supervising attorney, the main policy advisor at the UNDP office, in reviewing draft laws and proposed amendments to the Vietnamese criminal procedure codes on investigative agencies and legal aid, and amendments to Vietnamese penal codes with a focus on criminal economic crimes, and capital punishment for non-violent crimes. In addition to my work in the office, I was also tasked with a research project dealing with corporate criminal liability within Vietnam. A big change that the Ministry of Justice is trying to push forward was for legislation that would impose criminal liability on a corporation, for any acts of bribery or corruption that its agents or officers conduct. Because such liability did not exist in Vietnam at the time, many large companies and corporations were engaging in practices that resulted in an illicit gain in profits, opportunities, or contracts at the expense of their lower officers. Further, the fines and penalties for these lower level actors were seen as an overhead fee, necessary to conducting business. What my research attempted to do was to provide a comparative analysis of anti-corruption and corporate liability laws in neighboring countries around Vietnam, as well as countries that are socially, economically, and politically similar to the State, and other countries who have historically faced rampant corruption within its system. One of the purposes was to persuade policy makers into thinking that imposing criminal liability is economically more viable and would actually attract more investment into Vietnam, as it has with other countries. This research was ultimately what I submitted as my writing requirement for the externship program. Please feel free to contact me should you have any questions regarding the program. I would be more than happy to speak with anyone regarding my work, personal experience in the country, or anything else.