PUBLISHED:April 30, 2015

5 Questions for Osman Safak LLM ’15

Osman Safak ’15

Safak, an LLM candidate from Turkey, chose Duke Law because of its strong faculty and reputation.


1. What did you do before coming to Duke Law?

I graduated from Yeditepe University School of Law in Istanbul in 2012. In order to gain firsthand experience and knowledge of corporate law and project finance, I joined a business consultancy firm in Turkey, GSI Meridian. My practice primarily focused on general corporate matters as well as cross-border transactions. Later on, I joined Avea Iletisim Hizmetleri A.S, the youngest GSM mobile phone operator in Turkey. I worked on the trademark registration process of various Avea brands and provided legal advice to the marketing, technology, and strategy departments on corporate and commercial law matters.

2. Why did you choose Duke Law?

Duke is among the best law schools in the United States with its strong faculty and academic staff. The opportunity to be a law student at a top ten law school was a huge factor in my decision.  Another reason is the American approach to teaching, which actually encourages students to actively engage in discussions. This was very important for me because I knew that I was going to be pushed to develop my own analysis and arguments during the class, which is of course a huge opportunity for an international student to improve as a lawyer.

3. How was your pro bono experience?

It really makes me feel happy. I started doing pro bono at Legal Aid of North Carolina. I gave free legal services in civil matters to low-income citizens. I provided immediate information and legal counseling mainly about legal problems affecting basic human needs, such as family, housing, and income and personal bankruptcy issues. I am not sure whether it is possible to explain the unique feeling of helping someone in need in a couple of words. It actually makes me realize how blessed I am with my life and makes me more thankful for it. I also feel happy doing it because there is so much joy in having a chance to help people who are going through tough times. When looked from different perspective, it also makes me sad because I am just realizing how hard and ruthless life can be. I already convinced two of my friends to join Legal Aid, and I am keep telling everybody how important it is to help people in need.

4. Which courses did you take in the fall semester and which are you taking in the spring semester?

I took Commercial law and Bankruptcy, Distinctive Aspects of U.S. Law, Legal Writing, Ethics in Action, and Negotiation in the fall. I studied very hard for the first semester but was not expecting very high grades. However, it turned out to be one of the best semesters I have ever had; I had much higher grades then I expected. Probably, I owe this to my professors. Since LLM students are graded on the same scale as JD students, it is harder to have good grades at Duke Law than it is at other law schools with programs where students are graded only against other LLM students. On the other hand, it also makes the grades truly comparable to JDs and more valuable to employers. Now I am taking Business Associations, Structuring and Regulating Financial Transactions, Contract Drafting and International Arbitration. I am also auditing Remedies and Corporate Finance. I had the privilege of learning from Professors such as Steven L. Schwarcz, Thomas B. Metzloff, James D. Cox, and Elisabeth D. de Fontenay.

5. Aside from the academics, what can you say about Duke and its surroundings?

I would have never guessed that I was going to like Durham that much. After all, it was not a metropolitan city like New York or Los Angeles. I would honestly say I was feeling kind of sad when I came here for the first time from a big city like Istanbul. However, it appeared that I was extremely wrong. Truth of the matter is, local people are very friendly and you never feel like you are isolated. North Carolina is also recognized for its food and drink. From famous N.C. barbecue to traditional seafood, everything I have tried here was delicious. However, the best thing that unexpectedly has happened to me here has been Sally, my 2011 Mustang Premium.

– Pedro Soares ‘15