Jose Camarena Lopez '08

June 7, 2008Duke Law News

Interview With


Jose Camarena LopezName: Jose Camarena Lopez
LLM 2008
Home: Mexico City, Mexico
Law School: Universidad Iberoamericana




  1. Where is home? What is it famous for?
    Home is Mexico City, the vibrant capital of the Mexican Republic. It is famous for many things, among which I would mention: beautiful historic sites dating from the 16th century and the Spanish colonization; ancient ruins from the Aztec empire; architectural landmarks from baroque to neoclassical to art deco to contemporary; worldly renowned museums; the third biggest soccer stadium in the world; the biggest and one of the most renowned Bull Fighting rings (Plaza de Toros Mexico) and home of the best three Mexican Soccer League teams.
  2. You are very talented in arts, playing guitar and piano. You published in Mexico’s National Council for Culture and Arts magazine. Is there any relation between your passion for arts and your passion for intellectual property law?
    Yes. Both involve creativity which is an essential driving force in my life. I have discovered that by protecting creativity, the practice of law itself becomes more creative, for it has to deal with ever-changing and unpredictable subjects, while at the same time it has to work within the boundaries of statutes and rules. It is this combination that makes the practice of intellectual property law a challenging exercise of creativity. The level of appreciation involved in many cases requires an open and receptive mind. Judicial decisions and trends change constantly as inventions and works of art challenge the existing legal framework. As a result, attorneys must create and explore new means to appropriately counsel their clients.
  3. You have worked as Chief Officer for the Copyright and Industrial Property Affairs Department for a major Mexican cultural and publishing institution as well as in major Mexican law firms for many years. What made you decide to pursue an LL.M.?
    Throughout my professional career, I have encountered challenges and fulfillments that have confirmed my desire to learn and improve my skills. In my practice, I have always dealt with foreign clients, especially those from the U.S. and Canada. Before coming to Duke, I was at a point in my career where I knew I needed to direct my practice towards more challenging international work. I felt that pursuing an LL.M. degree at Duke Law School would be a big challenge itself that in turn would enhance my skills and equip me well for the next steps in my career. My experience at Duke has confirmed that this comparative legal exercise I do each day in each course has make me grow as a lawyer as well as a human being.
  4. Why did you choose Duke? What do you like the most about Duke so far?
    One reason is Duke’s outstanding reputation to attract the best and brightest students both in the US and overseas. Duke Law School has given special attention to intellectual property and has attained international recognition for research and teaching in that discipline. Two characteristics stood out. First, the critical approach towards the subject, one that not only helps me acquire the technical and academic abilities to practice, but goes further into questioning public policy and relevant issues that affect society, development and public welfare. Second, I am especially excited about the faculty and the course offerings. There are many courses from other areas of the law that complement my IP practice, like Antitrust or International Transactions, and it is great to find out that Duke is equally strong in many legal fields.There are many things I like about Duke. But among others I could mention the kind, positive and personal attention given by the International Studies Office staff, the professionalism and accessibility of the faculty members, the campus, my peers and the unique and diverse friendships fostered in that environment.
  5. Being away from school for 8 years, what are the biggest challenge and advantage of your LL.M. study?
    The biggest challenge is to get used to the academic setting and discipline again. Moreover, getting used to the different pace, methods of study and examination that are used in American Law Schools, is also challenging. Although there are many similarities, “thinking like a lawyer” has a slightly different meaning in the U.S. than in civil law countries.The biggest advantage is, of course, my professional experiences. I am totally convinced that my LL.M. degree is much more fruitful for me because of my working experience. The framework within which my learning takes place is richer, so I read each case through the lenses of the cases I have handled and approach each topic with the questions and dilemmas my practice has left upon me.
  6. 6. What is your plan after graduation? How do you think the LL.M. will help you with your career?
    I am considering two offers from law firms that interviewed me at the NY LLM Job Fair. One of them would give me the chance to practice at their NY office for a year before working at their office in Mexico. I am also interested in an international organization and am exploring some opportunities. Eventually, I want to go back to practice in Mexico, but if I have the opportunity to do my OPT and gain one year of experience in the U.S., I might take it.
  7. What advice will you give to international students studying in American law schools?
    Read your class assignments and try, from the beginning, to adapt to the way in which an American lawyer thinks and to get used to a different approach of studying. Meet and discuss the topics with the faculty, ask lots of questions and participate in class discussions. Think comparatively and globally, in that way you will end up learning more not only about American law, but also your own legal system when viewed from the outside. Take advantage of the opportunities to meet people from different cultures and make the most out of the experience.
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