Foreign LL.M. students welcomed to the Law Center and the city

Aug. 12, 2015 – Fifty-seven attorneys who earned their law degrees in 27 different countries were welcomed into the University of Houston Law Center’s LL.M. program earlier this month and urged to make the most of their time while studying in Houston, one of the nation’s most international cities.

Laura Gibson ’84, president of the Houston Bar Association, spoke during the two-day orientation and encouraged the students to take advantage of all the city and Law Center have to offer in the way of cultural, social, and career opportunities. Foremost, she said, is networking with fellow lawyers. “When people need a lawyer, they ask a lawyer they know,” she said.

During the course of their year-long studies, the LL.M. students will visit the Harris County Criminal Justice Center and attend two receptions; one hosted by the firm Locke Lord and the other by the Oil, Gas & Mineral and International Law sections of the HBA.

The students are spread among all six of the school’s LL.M. programs:  Energy, Environment and Natural Resources; International Law; Health Law; Intellectual Property Law; Tax Law; and the  Foreign Scholars program in which students and their advisors design a curriculum based on specific interests and career goals.

The Class of 2015 includes 11 students from Brazil and seven each from Mexico and Nigeria. This year marks the first time students from Barbados, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Saudi Arabia have enrolled. One student, from Norway, is a Fulbright Scholar.

Gibson outlined the initiatives she has undertaken during her one-year term as bar president, including enhancing the association’s mentorship programs for its younger members as well as outreach to Houston-area schools. As part of that outreach, the bar association commissioned an opera in cooperation with Houston Grand Opera and Communities in School, Inc.,  about famed Houston attorney Peter Gray, the first president of the HBA, and his pro bono representation of Emmeline, a freedwoman who had been illegally enslaved in Texas.

Gibson said the play’s major theme is “the difference that one person with a J.D. can make in the lives of others.” After its debut performance in the 1910 Harris County Courthouse, the play will be taken to area high schools.

Foreign LL.M. students listen as Janet Heppard, associate professor of clinical practice and director of the Law Center’s clinics, describes the program that provides hands-on,
real-world experience to students.

Laura Gibson ’84, president of the Houston Bar Association, urges foreign-trained attorneys
to take advantage of all the school and city
have to offer during their year in the graduate degree program.


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