PUBLISHED:November 10, 2020

Blue Globe International Alumni Newsletter, 2020 Edition

Dear International Alumni,

What can be said about the 2020 year so far that will not sound clichéd? Like you, we are finding our way through a very difficult year and, in this newsletter, would like to share with you the latest updates from Duke Law School International Studies Office.

With the fall semester now more than halfway complete, the efforts of the Law School and Duke University to protect the health of our students, faculty, and staff have exceeded expectations. Duke’s rigorous testing, contact tracing, and safety protocols are working to keep our infection rate low, and thus the University is now expanding access to campus. The beautiful outdoor spaces surrounding the Law School allow small groups of students to engage with each other and faculty and staff safely. We meet with LLMs and JD/LLMs in these spaces as the heat of the summer abates and the leaves begin to turn their fall colors. To hear more about our students' experience this fall, please see the video at the left.

You will not be surprised to learn that the Law School’s faculty members quickly adapted to the new conditions. Professors Metzloff and Idzelis are teaching sections of the LLM-required classes in person, with everyone masked and seated at a distance from each other. Because social distancing dramatically reduces the number of students who can occupy a classroom, and because of the number of students studying remotely, most other Law School classes are being taught remotely. (Several newly-created “readings” courses in timely topics with limited enrollments are also meeting in person, though.) From all reports, students are finding Duke Law’s online teaching to be engaging and thought-provoking and they have appreciated how the faculty have transformed their teaching to fit this different format.

Professor Idzelis teaching LLM students
Prof. Idzelis 

In addition to maintaining their high standards for teaching, Duke Law faculty members are researching and contributing to public debates on important topics such as health law, innovation and entrepreneurship, social justice, and diversity and inclusion. The knowledge and skills that Duke Law students acquire studying with leading scholars in these and other fields will be carried around the globe when they graduate. We see the effect of the Duke Law education when we hear from you and understand how much you are doing, either directly in your careers or as part of your ongoing commitment to the pro bono publico, to improve world conditions. 

Class Updates

The 2019-2020 LLM class can be best described as the class of resilience. After successfully transitioning to remote classes in the middle of the spring semester, a talented group of 96 lawyers from 39 countries graduated via a virtual celebration in May 2020. The majority of graduates remained in the Durham area following graduation and navigated the uncertainty of whether or not they would be eligible to sit for a U.S. bar examination. Fortunately, those who desired were able to sit for a remote administration of the New York bar exam in early October.

The demand for Duke-trained attorneys remains strong, a fact just recently confirmed by Above the Law’s ranking of Duke Law as the no. 1 law school in the U.S. based on our top employment outcomes! Over one-third of the graduating class secured optional practical training (OPT) positions throughout the U.S. Once permitted to travel, many graduates also elected to return to their home countries, either returning to previous employers or identifying new positions in overseas offices. Our graduates’ recent career outcomes include top tier international law firms, NGOs, multinational corporations, and government agencies across the globe. The largest contingent of recent graduates are working in New York City, Tokyo, Luxembourg, Paris, and London. This year we also saw an increase in the number of students continuing their studies throughout the world, including in Switzerland, Hong Kong, China, and the U.S. Our graduates also continue to make impactful change in internationally focused NGOs as highlighted in our recent profiles of two Class of 2020 graduates practicing in the area of environmental law, Olonyi Bosire and Ginary Tatiana Gutiérrez Robledo

Members of LLM class of 2020
The LLM Class of 2020 poses with Prof. Metzloff in November 2019


Eighty-nine students from 43 countries make up the 2020-2021 LLM class. To help these incoming students manage their educational goals in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Law School and International Studies office for the first time offered a choice of start dates. In August, we welcomed 23 students who will graduate in May, and look forward to welcoming a larger group of students in January who will graduate in December. 

International JD enrollment remains strong. Upper-level international JDs who stayed in the United States for the summer are back at the Law School, while most first-year international JDs are studying from home. Travel restrictions suspended exchanging students with our partner law schools this semester, but the break has given us the opportunity to review and renew our exchange agreements with top-level universities around the globe.  

Transitions in the Office of International Studies

Jennifer Maher and Oleg Kobelev
Dean Maher, Dean Kobelev

Duke Law School’s Office of International Studies has entered a year of transition in leadership with Jennifer becoming associate dean emerita in September and Oleg becoming associate dean. Jennifer, who has been a principal architect and steward of the Law School’s international programs for more than three decades, remains engaged with international students currently at Duke Law and, in particular, with the Law School’s dedicated global alumni community, but is stepping back from some of her duties in the department that she has led for 10 years.

Oleg, who has served as assistant dean since 2015, joined the Office of International Studies in 2010. He has since held positions of progressive responsibility with a focus on advising students and alumni on career and professional development opportunities in the United States and abroad. 

Please click here to read an article about the transition.

Staff Travel and Recruitment

Travel restrictions work both ways, so this year we also will be unable to visit you. This allows us to reimagine and reinvent recruiting, however. In particular, alumni will play a critical role in getting out the word about Duke Law. We maintain a comprehensive list of current recruiting events on our website (on the right hand side of the page under “Recruitment Events”. If you are able to assemble a group of potential applicants, at your firm or university or other venue, we would be happy to speak with them via Zoom or another platform, either about LLM programs in general or Duke Law in particular. 

We will also be calling on you to speak with applicants and of course will be very happy to receive your recommendations of applicants, as well. Duke’s outstanding global reputation, small size, and the family-like cohesiveness of LLM classes and alumni continue to provide an outstanding experience for international students. 

Durham and the Triangle remain in the Top 10 Places to Live in the U.S., and still offer a lower cost of living than most of the locations of our peer programs. As always, a lovely climate, and of course, Duke basketball, add to the allure of the Duke LLM program.  

Summer Programs

Summer 2020 was anything but normal, but the Duke-Leiden Institute in Global and Transnational Law, a collaboration between Duke Law School and the University of Leiden, went on as scheduled, albeit in a virtual format. Duke and Leiden faculty members successfully  adapted the program to the new environment. The 2020 courses were: Taxation of Cross-Border Transactions; Realizing Rights: Strategic Human Rights Litigation and Advocacy; Challenges in Multilateral and Regional Trade Governance; Comparative Perspectives on Criminal Justice: Central Issues and Contextual Implementation, and Authority; and Legitimacy in International Adjudication.

Although the participants and the faculty missed the opportunity to mingle and get to know each other on location at The Hague, the overall sense was that the Institute went very well, with multiple students commenting on how impressed they were with the faculty keeping classes engaging, immersive, and interactive. If conditions allow, the Institute hopes to return to its location at The Hague next summer. The Institute is open to students who have completed at least one year of law study, students preparing to study for an LLM degree, and judges, academics, practitioners and other professionals seeking knowledge of American, international, and comparative law. If you or your colleagues are aware of students or practicing attorneys who may be interested in participating in the Institute, please encourage them to review the Institute’s website and contact Meaghan Kelly with any questions.

We have made two changes to the 2020 Duke Law Institute on Law, Language and Culture to meet the unique challenges and opportunities of this academic year. Instead of running during the summer, the 2020 Institute will run Monday, November 30 through Friday, December 18. And, this year, the Institute will take place entirely online, making it easily accessible for participants worldwide. Institute instructors Marily Nixon and Melissa Hanson are taking the best of the traditional summer program (“SILLC”) and bringing it online to an intimate group of incoming LLM students and other legal professionals. Class sessions will be live, not pre-recorded, and will involve extensive discussion of U.S. legal and law school norms, as well as numerous guest speakers. Would your interns or junior associates benefit from a dynamic, three-week primer on the U.S. legal system with the Duke Law community?  Please help spread the word – and let us know if we should reach out to some of your contacts.

Exchange Programs

in the fall of 2019, ten JD students had the opportunity to live and study in other countries by participating in the Study Abroad program. Students studied at one of our partner universities around the world, including ESADE in Spain, Catolica University in Portugal, University of Sydney in Australia, University of Heidelberg in Germany, ITAM in Mexico; University of Copenhagen in Denmark, Waseda in Tokyo, and Tel Aviv University in Israel.

Visiting Scholars

During the 2019-2020 academic year, we hosted a group of visiting scholars including two senior LLM alumni: Sebastian Guerrero ’99 from Chile, who focused his research on philanthropy in the U.S. and Daniel Pita ’00 from Brazil, who focused his research on international hedge funds. While at Duke Law School, Sebastian and Daniel participated in numerous networking opportunities with our faculty members and also were able to meet some students during the LLM Practice Interviews in January. Both visiting scholars greatly enjoyed the enriching academic and social environment at Duke, including attending Duke basketball games with their families.

New Law School Initiatives

On June 17, President Vincent Price wrote a letter to the entire Duke University community, charging us to come together to combat racism and inequality. “We must take transformative action now toward eliminating the systems of racism and inequality that have shaped the lived experiences of too many members of the Duke community,” he wrote. In his letter, President Price set forth specific goals for Duke University and asked for a preliminary implementation proposal from the deans of each school by September 1.

At the Law School, we spent the intervening weeks advancing our own learning and self-reflection. We held listening sessions, facilitated conversations, and convened panel discussions on everything from racism in the classroom to police misconduct. Simultaneous with these activities, we drafted a proposal to respond to President Price’s call. Our Diversity & Inclusion Committee tasked a subcommittee of faculty, staff, and one student to work directly with the dean to develop a plan to assess systematically the Law School’s current culture, population, processes, and curriculum and to implement diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives to foster a strong, supportive, and anti-racist community. This preliminary strategic plan reflects that work, with substantial additional input from the Senior Leadership Team and broader Diversity & Inclusion Committee.

Click here to read the full report.

Faculty Highlights

The Law School has welcomed six new faculty members for 2020-21, a group that includes dynamic young scholars, dedicated clinicians with deep backgrounds in advocacy and teaching, and a distinguished public servant:

In May, three Duke Law faculty members were awarded distinguished professorships by Duke University in recognition of their substantial records of intellectual achievement and status as leading thinkers in their fields:

Alumni Updates

As many of you know, in September we received distressing news about the detention of Illia Salei LLM ’14 by the Belarussian authorities. We join many of our alumni and friends in calling for Illia’s release. Click here to learn about Illia’s case.

Recognizing the common interests of LLM and internationally located alumni, the International Studies Office and the Alumni & Development Office have been developing resources and opportunities for international alumni to connect with each other and the Law School.

First, we launched a new International Alumni page on our website, which contains a growing list of in-depth interviews with LLM alumni, information on the international alumni in academia, and a link to the International Advisory Board, a dedicated group of U.S.-based alumni of the International LLM program. We encourage you to check it out!

Second, two new groups have been launched as part of the Duke University alumni website. The LLM Alumni group is a one-stop shop for all LLM alumni updates. We will also be using it to post announcements about upcoming events. Law School International Alumni group is an umbrella group for all Duke alumni based outside the United States. The two groups are interlinked and announcements posted to one will show up in the other one as well. Please note that in order to fully access both pages, including class notes, the latest Law School news, and events, you must sign in by creating your Duke “OneLink” account. If you do not have this account, you can register quickly and easily by following this link. We hope that you will share your professional and personal news and accomplishments using the class notes feature.

Third, as part of Duke’s “Forever Learning” initiative, you now have exclusive access to multiple recorded programs presented by Duke Law faculty and alumni. You can check it out here. New content is being added frequently and we encourage you to sign up for email updates.

Our social media pages remain active, including the Duke Law International Studies Facebook group, along with individual Facebook pages for graduates of LLM classes 2013201420152016201720182019 and 2020. And, of course, please write to us directly – we would love to hear from you!


Oleg Kobelev

Associate Dean for International Studies

Jennifer D’Arcy Maher '83

Associate Dean Emerita for International Studies

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