5 Questions for Ziad Raheb LLM '14
Raheb likes everything at Duke including the friendly and hard-working students, extracurricular activites, law professors, and courses that are designed to prepare graduates to succeed and prove themselves from the first day in practice.
1. Where is home? What is it famous for?
Home is Lebanon, a small country on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea. Its physical geography is unique in the world. The mountains are among the highest in the region; and yes, we do have snow and ski resorts. The famous Cedars of Lebanon or “Cedars of God” are referred to several times in the Bible as symbols of beauty and strength. Our civilization is among the oldest on earth and goes back to more than six thousand years.
Homeland of the Phoenicians, inventors of the alphabet, Mount Lebanon has witnessed the passage of various cultures over thousands of years. Because of its strategic location, Mount Lebanon was the gateway between Europe, Asia and the Arab Peninsula. The capital, Beirut, and many other cities have traditional buildings and sites with fantastic cultural nuances that you will not find anywhere else. The Lebanese heritage has evolved over centuries by being exposed to many civilizations, and became today extraordinarily rich and vibrant.
Besides the exceptional Lebanese cuisine and warm hospitality, the sunny beaches and stunning mountain landscapes makes it a major attraction. Museums are very interesting to explore since they display many of the country's historical and archaeological artifacts. Restaurants and cafés are remarkably dynamic. Nightlife in Beirut is outstanding. Lebanese people are renowned for their Mediterranean festive vibes, even during the difficult days.
2. Why did you choose the U.S. for your LLM?
Education in the United States is renowned for its high quality and commitment to excellence. American higher education is widely respected around the world, and is very attractive for international lawyers.
As a corporate lawyer educated in a civil law jurisdiction, studying in the U.S. gave me the opportunity to learn the common law concepts of American corporate and financial law, which are widely adopted in most emerging markets around the globe. The U.S. law is a leading source in these areas of expertise, and studying here enabled me to enhance my legal expertise by providing me with a deeper understanding in areas of law that are at the core of my current practice.
American-style teaching gives the students an opportunity to participate and share their thoughts with the entire class. This is a very important aspect because students will be pushed to develop their own analysis by evaluating the arguments of their classmates, which will help them appraise different perspectives and develop a critical and analytical legal thinking. The practical approach offered by U.S. law schools is also a major advantage, as opposed to the theoretical approach in other jurisdictions, where legal education is more focused on the theory, history and philosophy of law.
3. What do you like most about Duke so far?
I like everything at Duke. Students are very friendly and it is very easy to integrate a very dynamic social life. Everyone works very hard, and there are many opportunities for extracurricular activities. Between the Duke Basketball games, the bar reviews, and other events organized by the DBA, there are a lot of opportunities to meet people and make friends. Unlike studying in an urban environment, we are all living few minutes away from each other. LLMs are living like a family, and I made very solid friendships that are going to last for a life time.
Professors at Duke Law are among the best in the nation. Many of them have significantly contributed in shaping the U.S. legal system. They are dedicated to excellent teaching and incredibly accessible at all times. They know you by name, and it is very easy to develop a personal relationship and ask them for advice about career prospects.
The curriculum in the fields of corporate and financial law is excellent at Duke. I enjoyed all of my courses, especially the hands-on courses which are designed to provide students with a practical approach about the realities of the practice of law. The courses at Duke are designed to prepare their graduates to succeed and prove themselves from the first day in practice, and this is equally beneficial for LLM students who are eager to develop their legal skills before going back to practice in their home countries.
4. What advice would you give to international students hoping to study in American law schools?
Because every law school in the U.S. is incredibly different from the others, there are several aspects to be taken into account. While the outcome of research on the internet could be helpful, it is more recommended to approach alumni and lawyers who completed their studies in the U.S., more preferably in the same schools that the applicant is considering. Former students are the best source of information because their perspective is based on real life experience.
The reputation of the university is very important. Ideally, the applicants should consider the law schools that offer the best academic programs in line with their intended specialization. The name of the school and the quality of education will definitely affect the career prospects, whether in the U.S. or at an international level.
The location is also a major aspect to consider since it affects the study environment. Because choosing a school is very subjective, I believe that prospective students should list their priorities and compare them with the characteristics of every law school. By doing so, international students will be able to make an informed decision by choosing the school that matches most of their priorities.
5. We understand that you were introduced to several alumni working in the Middle East prior to joining the LLM. How have you found those introductions helpful?
I was able to gather all the information that I needed to know about the exceptional program at Duke. The Office of International Studies also did a great job by introducing me to a current LLM student while I was considering my options. I felt his enthusiasm about studying at Duke, and I was able to have a better picture of the intimate atmosphere and emphasis on learning which distinguishes Duke from the other top ten law schools in the U.S.
I am also very glad that the Office of International Studies is looking more closely to admitting students from Lebanon and the Middle East. Lebanese people are very dedicated to academic excellence, and they have demonstrated success in all parts of the world. Duke definitely provides its students with an outstanding quality of education so they can successfully meet the challenges and responsibilities that they will be facing in the future. Students and alumni at Duke are very proud of their nationwide reputation as a “unique community and all-around excellence”, and it is our duty as international students to carry this reputation all over the world.