Second-year Suffolk Law student Michael Donev spent the first part of his summer in Lund, Sweden, before heading to his native Bulgaria for the rest. No, Donev wasn’t taking an extended European vacation; he was getting a leg up in the field of international law.
For a first-year law student, international law experience can be hard to come by, but two Suffolk Law School programs help students use the summer to get ahead by going abroad.
One such program is the three-week summer study in Lund, Sweden. For the past nearly two decades, this program has given Suffolk Law students (mainly first-years) the unique opportunity to study international and comparative law at prestigious Lund University alongside their Swedish counterparts. (Watch this video to learn more about the Lund program.)
Donev, one of more than 30 who participated in the Lund program this year, found the blend of perspectives in the classrooms particularly valuable.
“You get to see other points of view on the same topics and subjects,” he says. His Swedish classmates quickly became close friends, with some planning a Boston visit this fall.
Students also enjoyed field trips to Swedish District Court, the Swedish Court of Appeals, and the World Health Organization headquarters in nearby Copenhagen, Denmark, as well as guest lectures from Swedish judges, academics, and legal experts.
Another opportunity is the summer global internship program, which has been a Law School staple for more than a decade. Each summer, in partnership with the Center for International Legal Studies, Suffolk places about a dozen first- and second-year students in internships at law firms around the world—typically top local firms, rather than outposts of international mega-firms.
“It really gives students the opportunity to see how practice is in that particular country,” says program director Christine Bustany, practitioner in residence for International and Comparative Law.
This summer’s destinations included Sao Paolo, Brazil; Nairobi, Kenya; Brussels, Belgium; Wellington, New Zealand; and Johannesburg, South Africa. Four students also went to The Hague, Netherlands, to work on international criminal tribunals for Lebanon, Rwanda, and the former Yugoslavia.
This coming year, a new program called the International Comparative Law Fellowship will focus on public interest internships at NGOs, government institutions, and multilateral organizations for second-year students. It will also become more academically robust, with students receiving specialized training before working abroad. The application deadline is November 15.
Both the Lund summer study and international internship programs are supported in part by the Santander International Law Scholarships, which this year provided $26,000 for 12 Suffolk Law students to work and study abroad. Santander is one of the largest banks in the world.
Instead of choosing one opportunity over the other, some students opt to piggyback their Lund experience with an international internship, crafting a truly global summer experience.
“It’s not that easy to just get a paid position or a legal position after the first year, especially if you’re interested in doing international legal work, which is something you have to really prove your bona fides for,” says Professor Sara Dillon, director of the Lund program. “It is definitely a way of starting to build up credentials to do international work which otherwise could be tricky.”
Donev did just that, studying at Lund before heading to Bulgaria for an internship at one of the top three law firms in the country. He worked closely with one of the partners at the firm on some big deals, including a major bank purchase. Just weeks after studying international business transactions at Lund, Donev got to put his coursework into practice.
“I’ve learned a lot,” says Donev. “More than I thought I would.”