Queralt, a former Duke Law exchange student, returned for his masters due to the strength of the Law School's programs and the way it cares for LLM students.
1. Where is home? What is it famous for?
I am from Catalonia, in northeastern Spain. Our main claim to fame is of course the city of Barcelona, which boasts impressive modernist buildings (including Antoni Gaudí's Sagrada Família), a beautiful medieval quarter, great museums, nice beaches, excellent bars and restaurants, an exciting night life and the best football team in the world - FC Barcelona. In addition to that, Catalonia is known as one of the most dynamic economies in southern Europe, in spite of the severe economic crisis. Our cuisine enjoys worldwide fame and, in fact, El Celler de Can Roca, widely regarded as the world's best restaurant, is located in Girona -which is a lovely small city, by the way. Finally, the list of famous Catalans is pretty impressive, including painters such as Salvador Dalí or Joan Miró, the great cellist Pau Casals, the distinguished medieval jurist Raymond de Penyafort, Antoni Gaudí, Pau Gasol, and even the first Governor of California, Gaspar de Portolà.
2. Why did you choose the U.S. for your LLM?
I chose to pursue my LLM degree in the United States for several reasons. First of all, because top American universities such as Duke offer a wealth of resources to students that is very hard to match. By that I mean not only approachable professors, impressive facilities or excellent librarians, but also a very active student body and so many interesting extracurricular activities that it is impossible to keep track of them all. Secondly, because the American approach to teaching seeks to actively engage the student, welcomes class participation, is strongly interdisciplinary, places a strong emphasis in reading the relevant sources and values analytical skills over memory. This makes studying law in the US very stimulating from an intellectual point of view. And thirdly, because it does makes a difference in your resumé, regardless of the professional career you want to pursue.
3. What do you like most about Duke so far?
Difficult question -there are so many things I like about Duke! I have really enjoyed all of the classes I have taken so far. Last semester I particularly liked International Law with Professor Helfer and International Law of Armed Conflict with Professor Dunlap -they both challenged many preconceived ideas I had, and I learned a lot from them. I cannot emphasize enough how good the faculty is, or how approachable the professors are. There are also lots of interesting events going on for law students. For example, I'm looking forward to attending this year's National Security Law Conference. From an extracurricular viewpoint, I love walking across our beautiful campus, especially the Sarah P. Duke Gardens and the Duke Chapel. And I'm impressed by the foodie scene in Durham -it's really surprising that a mid-sized city can have so many excellent restaurants! I also appreciate very much the strong sense of community at Duke Law. You really get to know all of the LLMs and make friends with them. Finally, there is such a huge variety of extracurricular activities to do: concerts, colloquiums, free dance lessons, student groups you can join.
4. What is your plan after graduation? How do you think the LLM will help with your career?
After graduation, I would like to pursue a Ph.D. and hopefully work in academia or for the government. The LLM degree will be particularly useful because a master's degree from one of America's top law schools such as Duke does help to get admitted to interesting programs and, in any case, it is a very valuable asset in your resumé that can open many attractive paths in your professional career. In addition to that, the LLM program has helped me develop my research skills. Most importantly, my legal knowledge, particularly in international law, has increased significantly thanks to the LLM, and that is extremely valuable, regardless of the professional career I may follow in the end.
5. You were enrolled in the Law School as an exchange student prior to joining the LLM program. What prompted you to return to pursue your LLM degree at Duke?
I had the privilege to attend Duke Law as an exchange student during the fall semester in 2011, and it was probably the most enriching experience I had ever had. Not only did I make many friends and have lots of fun, it was also an incredibly rewarding experience from an academic point of view. I found the classes really interesting and engaging, and was amazed at how much was going on at the law school. Nowhere have I enjoyed studying law more than at Duke. Back home, I graduated from law school in June 2012 and found that my law degree wasn't quite enough to pursue the career options I was really interested in. I decided to take a master's degree, but I wanted a really good one -one that would make a difference in my resumé. And, with that in mind, I couldn't think of a better option than the Duke LLM program. I was particularly interested in Public International Law, and I knew Duke was very strong in that field (may I add I regretted not taking any class with Professor Dunlap in 2011). I also knew how friendly and welcoming the Duke community was and, most importantly, how much Duke cares for its LLM students. For all these reasons, Duke was the obvious choice for me.