I came to law school as what you may call a non-traditional student. Sixteen years after graduating with my bachelor of science and working in the financial sector and then employee global mobility, I decided to return to school. I first entered law school as a part-time student in the evening division at Widener Delaware Law, and then I transferred to Temple Law after my first year. After my first semester at Temple, I transferred to the day division as a full-time student.
When I transferred to Temple, I was most interested in international studies and, in particular, the study abroad program in Rome. My main fields of interest in law are global business and U.S. business immigration. Not only was I interested in the breadth of courses offered to prepare me for the workforce, but I felt the Rome program would give me an opportunity to understand another culture, another law structure (Italy practices civil law, whereas the United States practices common law), and another way of life. Getting outside of my comfort zone was important to me—as an attorney, I imagine I will need to adapt to different types of people with different concerns, and the program in Rome would give me the confidence to explore situations that were foreign to me.
In May 2017, I left the United States for the summer semester at Temple Law’s Rome campus. It was a dream come true, despite the anxiety of learning my way around a new city in which I do not speak the local language. I knew very few Italian phrases, and the first week in Rome, I held back on speaking to as many locals as possible.
I really wanted to make the most of my time in Rome, and, to do so, I requested an unpaid internship while I was there. I was offered a placement at Vitale e Partners, an international law firm whose main office is a 30-minute walk from Temple’s campus. The first day I showed up for work at Vitale, I met with my supervisor, and we discussed topics of law that interested me. She immediately set me up with a research project on Google’s tax evasion case in Italy and U.S. law on the commercial use of drones. I, then, met with another partner who asked me to research the insolvency of Alitalia, Italy’s flagship airline that had recently entered insolvency proceedings. I found these topics fascinating because I knew nothing about them before working for Vitale. In fact, I extended my research of Alitalia’s insolvency to researching global insolvency schemes.
My role as an intern while in Rome required me to be at the office on average twice per week, and I spent anywhere between two and five hours there each time. The partners understood that I had requirements for school, including classes, field trips, and presentations, and they were flexible with the schedule.
I also accompanied my supervisor to a meeting with other international attorneys for an informal discussion on Alitalia. This meeting included lawyers whose primary languages are Italian, French, and German, but most conversations were conducted in English. This discussion provided additional context to my research for a deeper understanding of the legal and cultural concerns of the demise of such a large enterprise.
In the days leading up to my departure from Rome to return to the United States, I asked my supervisor if I could continue working with her on the drone research and on Alitalia. Not only did she agree to this arrangement, but she wants us to collaborate on a series of short articles to post to LinkedIn and Facebook to attract new clients. We are still working on this project and strategizing what information should be posted.
In addition to the research on drones and Alitalia, after my return to the United States, one of the partners asked me to research a case on a Turkish banker’s violation of U.S. sanctions against Iran in early 2018 in preparation for a presentation he was giving in March. I also participated in monthly Skype calls with Vitale partners around the globe (for example, in India, Egypt, Turkey, Brazil, and Germany), which were intended to present opportunities for the partners to work together to expand their businesses.
Also in 2018, I was introduced to Vitale’s U.S. partner, who is a business immigration attorney in San Diego. Because of my interest in business immigration, he asked me to write papers on E and L visas as though I am presenting the content to clients who don’t have a high school education. From there, we will develop presentations to be posted online to discuss the requirements for the E and L visas to attract clients and to educate the partner’s current clients.
The study abroad program enhanced my overall law school experience by giving me an opportunity to work with international lawyers and their clients’ concerns. Also, because of my transfers to Temple and to the day program, I was able to graduate law school within 3 years, however, I missed out on applying to summer associate internships in the Philadelphia metro area. By working at Vitale, I have learned the fundamentals of how lawyers expect information to be organized and presented, and I applied the research skills taught in law school to real-life concerns. My time working for Vitale has been an amazing experience and has provided me the opportunity to work with international business lawyers to educate them—and myself—on U.S. law.