Name: Javier Carrizo
Law School: Universidad Catolica Santa Maria La Antigua
- Where is home? What is it famous for?
My home is Panama City, Panama. It is famous for the Panama Canal, which connects the waters of the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean, enabling ships to cross through its short route instead of traveling all the way around the southern cone of the American continent. Panama is also known for extraordinary diversity of birds, hosting more than 950 species, and its abundance of fish, making Panama a worldwide known spot for fishing.
- You were first enrolled as a medical student in Mexico, then transferred to law school in Panama. Why did you go to medical school in Mexico being a Panamanian? What drove you to switch from medicine to law?
When I graduated from high school, I thought I had an inclination towards medicine. When I got to Mexico, I found out that I did not have the vocation necessary to be a doctor. While I was there, I had some friends who where studying law, and when they talked about it, I always thought to myself that law school sounded very interesting and fun – trying to find a legal solution to everyday problems sounded amazing! After one full semester, I got back to Panama and decided to audit some classes at a Panamanian law school, and I loved them. The rest is history.
- What made you decide to pursue an LLM in the U.S.?
In Panama, I used to work at a law firm that dealt a lot with foreign clients (mostly Americans), and I realized the great importance to have U.S. legal knowledge. We are living in a globalized world. In order to be a good counsel for my clients, it is of utmost importance to be well equipped with international legal knowledge, which I am sure I have received here from Duke’s LLM Program.
- Why did you choose Duke?
Since the start of my law studies, I knew that when I graduated I wanted to pursue an LLM degree, so I started to do my research, talk to friends and colleagues, and decided that Duke was the place I wanted to be. I did not want to go to a big city, but to a quiet place where you could focus on study, and at the same time make great everlasting friendships, and Duke offered that to me. Another aspect that really caught my attention about Duke was the overwhelming campus it has, with beautiful architecture and sceneries, while at the same time being very modern and technologically advanced.
- What do you like most about Duke?
It has to be a combination of having a great campus life, where you can make great friendships and contacts, and being able to study with an exceptional faculty, where professors are the best in their fields and really enjoy passing their knowledge inside and outside the classroom.
- What is your plan after graduation? How do you think the LLM will help you with your career?
After graduation, I sat for the New York bar exam and would like to pursue a job in the U.S. I believe the international work experience is ideal for a complete lawyer, because you are introduced to new areas of the law, which you might not see in your home country. I can see the benefits of the LLM program right now, as several law firms in my country have shown interest in hiring me, mostly for the international experience and English training received at Duke.
- What advice will you give to international students studying in American law schools?
The first thing international students should know about studying in American law schools, is that classes are very interactive, wherein discussions between professors and classmates are highly valuable. Don’t be afraid to speak with your not-so-perfect accent, because professors and classmates will understand you, and this is the only way to get out of the shell and improve your English skills, thus giving you much more confidence. LLM students get acquainted really well between each other since the beginning of the program, but don’t be afraid on getting to know the American students (the JDs), as they can give you valuable tips about the American way of studying, and can also be great friends. The cultural diversity you will see in an LLM program is amazing, so you should take advantage of the opportunity and learn from other students about their countries, cultures, and legal system - just by doing this you will enrich your international knowledge remarkably.