Name: Javier Robalino
Law School: Catholic University of Quito
Interesting facts: Consultant to the Office of President of Ecuador
- Where is home? What is it famous for?
Home is Ecuador, in South America. It’s a small country, between Colombia and Peru. It is famous for its people, the mountains, the volcanoes, the rainforest and the Galapagos islands. Among other things, Ecuador is very diverse, having a majority of mestizo population, but also some indigenous and Afro-Ecuadorian communities.
- You are an experienced lawyer in your home country and consultant to the Office of President of Ecuador. What made you decide to pursue an LLM degree?
I worked for the Office of the President of Ecuador and for the President of the Supreme Court. I was also working for Perez Bustamante & Ponce as senior associate. However, after several years of deep involvement in the legal profession I realized that a break was needed. It is necessary to refresh your ideas, update your knowledge and improve your skills. At the same time, my wife and I decided that a sabbatical year would be beneficial for our family. So, we decided to achieve this professional goal that I had postponed for years and combine it with good quality time with my family.
- Why did you choose Duke for your LLM?
Several reasons. From an academic stand point of view, the LLM at Duke allows you to build your own specialization, while a masters degree in most countries does not offer such flexibility. The size of the LLM class and the law school community allows you to have easy access to an outstanding faculty and students. Family wise, I wanted my LLM to be in a place where I could enjoy a peaceful living and in a small community. The Triangle area has very nice cities with plenty of things to do, but without the complications of the big cities. My wife and kids had an excellent time.
- What are your favorite memories of Duke?
Tough question. There are so many good memories. The classes were outstanding. My talks with professors in the hallways or over coffee were always good. The time in the library was so nice and fun, reading hard but also meeting with friends for a paper or a presentation. As a class representative the time with our deans Judy and Jennifer and their team was also intense. The parties and events were nice too. Among them, International Week is a super active melting-pot of cultures and peoples. I enjoyed it so much. Besides the law school, the basketball games and the trips with friends are among my favorite moments in the Triangle. To me, all of them are together in one favorite memory: the LLM, a superb experience.
- What do you do after graduation? How did the LLM help you with your career?
Currently I am working for King and Spalding, Houston, as a foreign associate, involved in international law and international arbitration. I came to Houston just after graduation. After King and Spalding, I will rejoin my law firm in Ecuador where I expect to continue my career. The LLM helps you in many ways. It opens your mind, gives you a substantial amount of knowledge, helps you improve your professional skills like legal writing and legal construction under the common law system, and provides you lots of contacts and relations. Moreover, the LLM opens the door for new professional opportunities in your country or abroad.
- You taught Administrative Law in San Francisco de Quito University, any plan to resume teaching law?
Yes, of course. However, I am planning to combine Administrative Law with International Law. I focused my program in the latter field of law, which is very active nowadays. I expect to lecture not only about the classic administrative law, but also about the relation between international law, governments and foreign investments. Some of these issues are becoming part of something called global administrative law. By the way, a Duke professor working in this field was very helpful in my research. I will continue writing and expect to finish a project I started more than a year ago, a book in domestic administrative law.
- What advice will you give to international students studying in American law schools?
My advices to incoming students are the following: Do not expect to get a job in the US by means of the LLM. Although some people get a job (as I did), most of the LLM’s don’t. This produces tons of frustrations all over the place. Although Duke has one of the highest rates of hired students and it will help you get a position, there are many other factors that play a role, the country of origin, the relation between the US and your country, experience, etc. The LLM helps but a US job is not guaranteed. Another advice will be don’t close the doors in your home country. The LLM will provide you great opportunities at home or in a country nearby. Those opportunities could be as good as anyone in the US. Finally, if you have the chance to make the LLM, don’t hesitate. Just do it.