Name: Dragan Gajin
Law School: University of Novi Sad Faculty of Law
- Where is home? What is it famous for?Home is Serbia. My country is most famous for being excellent in sports, and in the last few years this is especially true regarding tennis. In men's tennis Novak Djokovic is currently number three in the world, while in women's tennis we have two players in the top five: Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic. We are very proud of them, since for a country of Serbia's size that is a tremendous success. Apart from sports, we are also well known for our food (which is not really vegetarian-friendly). And of course, the Serbian national drink-slivovica (plum brandy).
- What made you decide to pursue an LLM in the U.S.?During my law studies in Serbia, I had a chance to come to the U.S. to participate in a moot court competition in Washington, D.C. While in the U.S., I had a chance to visit several top American law schools. This made a great impression on me and that is when I decided to pursue an LLM in the U.S. Although there are more and more LLM programs in English throughout the world, I have a feeling that the U.S. is still the best place to study. Campus life, great tradition, and bonds with the university are something that cannot be found anywhere else. Also, the U.S. is a place that attracts people literally from all over the world, and studying with people that have such various backgrounds is a unique experience.
- Why did you choose Duke?Basketball is one of the most popular sports in Serbia and we enjoy watching American college basketball very much. That is how I first heard about Duke University, since Duke has one of the best basketball programs in the U.S. When I was doing research for LLM applications, I found out that Duke is excellent not just in athletics but in academics as well. During my studies here I was lucky enoughto get a season ticket for Duke Basketball so I managed to combine my two great passions-law and basketball. You had many interesting international experiences prior to coming to Duke, such as participating in the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition and the international project PEACE-COM.
- What have you learned from these experience that are helpful to your LLM studies?Participating in Jessup moot court was important for my LLM studies for several reasons. As I mentioned earlier, thanks to Jessup I was able to visit the U.S. for the first time and that is what made me return to the U.S. for postgraduate studies. Also, preparing memos for the moot court competition was a great exercise for what awaited me here at Duke. In Serbia, and I think the situation is similar in other European countries as well, legal studies are primarily based on theoretical knowledge. On the other hand, when preparing for the Jessup competition, students have to go beyond theory and try to develop better arguments than the opponent team. And that is what I think is the essence of American legal education. Law schools in the U.S. are a place where students are taught how to develop arguments and defend the client’s interest in the best possible way.
- What do you like most about Duke?There are two things that I would like to mention. First of all, I love Duke’s campus. The gothic-style buildings are beautiful, and thanks to mild climate everything is green throughout the year. Each morning on my way to law school I would pass through Duke Gardens, and I cannot imagine a better way to start a day. Another thing that I enjoyed at Duke Law was attending lectures. Lectures that I took at Duke were so interesting and intellectually engaging that for the first time in my life I was sad when the school year ended. I thought I would never say this, but school can be fun.
- What is your plan after graduation? How do you think the LLM will help you with your career?I decided to stay in school for few more years. My next stop is Hungary, since I will be doing SJD studies at Central European University in Budapest. The fact that I did my LLM at such a renowned school as Duke Law certainly was of great influence to my admission to this SJD program. I still have not decided what to do when I complete my studies, but regardless of whether I will work in academia or in practice, the Duke degree will undoubtedly open a lot of doors for me.
- What advice will you give to international students studying in American law schools?My advice would simply be: try to enjoy your studies as much as you can. Do not take a course just because you think your employer would like you to take it. Take courses that you are really interested in, since this might be your last year in school.