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St. John’s Center for International and Comparative Law Celebrates Another Successful Year and the Launch of Its International Honors Program

Monday, June 2, 2014

On May 22, 2014, the Center for International and Comparative Law hosted its year-end reception at Willkie Farr & Gallagher in midtown Manhattan. Marking the end of another successful year for the Center, which was founded in 2010, the reception honored its departing student fellows, welcomed its new student fellows, and served as the official launch of its new International Honors Program. Over 75 alumni, current and incoming students, faculty, and administrators, as well as Hon. Mario M. Cuomo ‘56L. ’75HON, attended the event, which was generously hosted by Willkie Co-Chairman Steven Gartner ’84.

“Willkie Farr & Gallagher has long played an important role at St. John’s Law, especially since the days when John D'Alimonte ‘68 ran the firm, said Brian J. Woods, the Law School’s Executive Director of Development and Alumni Relations. “Many St. John's graduates begin their legal careers at Willkie and rise to prominence there or in prestigious in-house positions. The strong St. John’s Law connection continues today as Steve Gartner and his co-chairman, Thomas M. Cerabino ’81, lead the firm.” Gratefully acknowledging Willkie’s generosity in hosting the reception, Woods added: “Being 20 minutes from midtown Manhattan affords St. John's Law easy access to its most prominent alumni, and connecting incoming students and current students with them on a regular basis helps to strengthen our unmatched alumni network.”

Peter Sluka ’13, a first year associate at Willkie, agreed and added: “My connection to St. John's has been a remarkably helpful asset in the early stages of my legal career. Its reputation leads others to demand a well-reasoned, thorough work product, and the quality of its education and training allows alumni to consistently deliver.” Vincent Iannece ’15 —who along with Rand Potter ’15 will soon start work as a summer associate at Willkie— enjoyed being introduced into the Willkie family by the distinguished St. John's alumni at the reception. “It gives me great comfort to witness firsthand the heights a St. John's Law education can take its graduates,” he shared.

Reflecting on the evening, Associate Academic Dean Larry Cunningham said: “This event was a wonderful opportunity to bring together prospective and current students, faculty, and alumni who share a commitment to excellence in international and comparative law. As part of a law school in a global city, it’s only fitting that St. John’s Center for International and Comparative Law is a leader in the field."

As the Center enters its fifth year, its arsenal of projects continues to grow. Its Pro Bono for International Justice initiative, started in 2013, allows Center-affiliated students to work on projects that promote international justice.  As part of the initiative, the Center teams with the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda to update an appellate digest, and works with two non-governmental organizations to promote corporate accountability for human rights violations committed outside the United States. The Center also conducts research for the Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations.  According to Margaret E. McGuinness, the Center’s co-director, “the new pro bono initiative gets students working for clients on real cases, allowing them to hone their skills under the supervision of experienced attorneys.”

The Center’s student fellows program gives 2Ls and 3Ls the opportunity to work with affiliated professors on research projects, to present and publish work as part of the Center’s Roundtable Series, and to take leadership roles on the Center’s projects and events. "Being a student fellow has been a great complement to my international studies," said Marissa Harrell ’15. "My involvement with the Center has deepened my research into international topics, introduced me to international scholars and practitioners, and exposed me to the practical application of international law."

The Center’s new International Honors Program will begin this fall, thanks in part to the generosity of Yasuhiro Saito ’92, founding partner of Saito Sorenson LLP. The five St. John’s Law students selected for the program plan to pursue international legal practice. They receive a partial or full-tuition scholarship to fund their studies, and have access to additional stipends to fund research, academic travel, and student teaching.  "International Law is one of the more popular areas of law for prospective students,” said Robert M. Harrison, the Law School’s Associate Dean for Admissions and Financial Services. “Being able to offer an International Honors Program will greatly enhance our ability to attract and recruit highly qualified applicants."