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Program provides senior lawyers opportunities to teach law students abroad

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Do you have an interest in sharing your experience and expertise as a practicing lawyer by teaching for a few weeks at a law school in Eastern Europe, Asia or Africa? The Senior Lawyer Visiting Professors Program might be for you.

The program is sponsored by the Center for International Legal Studies in Salzburg, Austria. It connects American lawyers who have practiced for 15 years or more with law schools in Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa, where you can teach for periods ranging from two to six weeks.

Over the years, the program has assigned more than 400 lawyers and coordinated nearly 1,000 teaching assignments. Although the program was essentially in abeyance during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is now up and running again, and applications are being accepted for spring 2024 and later.

The law schools that participate in the program are among the most selective and prestigious in their countries. Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland, for example, was founded in 1364 and is one of the oldest higher education institutions in Europe. Similarly, the Faculty of Law of Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, Hungary, was established in 1667 and currently enrolls 5,000 students studying law and political science. The University of International Business and Economics in Beijing is an elite university in the People’s Republic of China.

Dennis Campbell is a law professor who founded the program in 1974 and remains its director today.

“The senior lawyers program was born of a conversation I had with two American law professors as we strolled the grounds of a palace in Salzburg,” Campbell says. “We spoke about the ‘challenges’ of integrating adjunct faculty into law school culture.

“It occurred to me that European universities would have no such ‘difficulties’—that European schools, particularly in Central and Eastern Europe, would welcome visiting adjuncts from the United States. The question was: Would American lawyers be willing to travel at their own expense and without compensation?” he says. “We launched the senior lawyers program hoping that we would attract six or seven lawyer volunteers. That first year, we had 50.”

Where can I teach?

For 2024, there are potential teaching assignments available in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.

Pre-pandemic, law schools in Russia and Ukraine participated in the program. And the program also has placed lawyers at law schools in Vietnam, Thailand, India, Kenya, Ethiopia and even Mongolia. It is expected that in the next year or so, opportunities will become available to teach in Asia and Africa, as well as in Eastern Europe. All classes are taught in English.

Why was the program a great experience for each of us?

All five of us are alumni of the program, and we all have performed multiple assignments in different countries, teaching a wide range of courses, including U.S. constitutional law, complex litigation, securities law, environmental law, international arbitration, financial, energy law and general business law.

We all strongly think that the program deserves to be better known. We all know many experienced lawyers (including but by no means limited to those who have retired or are who starting to think about their post-retirement career) who would enjoy the challenges and the opportunities that the program offers.

Julia Sullivan, for example, has taught courses in international arbitration at Jagiellonian University and at International Black Sea University in Tbilisi in the Republic of Georgia.

“I can honestly say that CILS has changed my life. I completed four teaching assignments in Eastern Europe prior to COVID and am thrilled to learn that the program is now being revived,” she says. “My CILS hosts and students in Poland, Ukraine and Georgia taught me far more than I taught them. Some became close personal friends and have visited my family in the United States. I would highly recommend this program to anyone who enjoys travel, loves learning and has a little time to mentor some amazing future leaders.”

Diane Fener has taught courses in U.S. constitutional law, advocacy and American jury trials.

“I’m sure I will want to continue working with CILS again and again in the coming years because CILS provides an exceptional opportunity for retired lawyers to travel, teach and learn,” she says.

Richard A. Rosen has taught a course on complex litigation in Odessa, Ukraine, and at the ELTE in Budapest, and he is looking forward to teaching a similar course at the University of Vilnius in Lithuania in April.

“My students were intellectually curious about the American legal system, and there were many lively discussions about how our system compares with those in the students’ home countries,” he says, adding that the students’ command of English was consistently strong.

John Erlick has taught U.S. constitution law at the Far Eastern Federal University in Vladivostok, Russia, U.S. litigation at the University of Szczecin in Poland and international legal ethics at the ELTE.

“In my 40-plus years in the legal profession as a lawyer, judge and educator, participating in CILS was one of the best and most enriching experiences that I had in my varied career,” he says. “It has been an unparalleled opportunity to present in democratically developing countries, to meet other local legal professionals and to explore cultures around the globe. CILS provides a unique opportunity to teach, to learn and to experience our legal profession in a challenging, exciting way.”

David Zarski has taught courses in general business law and financial law at universities in Russia, Poland, Austria and China, and he is scheduled to teach another in fall 2024 in Estonia.

Where do the law students come from?

Many of the law schools that collaborate with the program and host American lawyers as visiting professors are also participants in the Erasmus Program, an important project of the European Union under which students from across Europe attend a law school outside their home country for a semester. For example, Richard recently returned from teaching at the ELTE in Budapest, and his class included students from Germany, Italy, Ireland and England, as well as Hungary. Diane’s students at the ELTE were from Belgium, England, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovenia, Spain and Turkey. David recently taught a course with participants from more than 17 countries.

How can I learn more?

There is a formal application process, and the program works to match you with a law school that is interested in the subject matter in which you have expertise and which is willing to host you in the time frame when you are available to participate.

More details about the program are available here. Learn more about the application process here.

Any of the five of us would also be happy to speak with you if you want to learn more.

John Erlick is a retired King County Superior Court judge in Seattle. Reach him at [email protected].

Diane Fener graduated from the Georgetown University Law Center and practiced before trial courts in New York, California and the District of Columbia with a focus on individual rights, children and families.

Richard A. Rosen recently retired as a litigation partner at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison in New York. Reach him at [email protected].

Julia Sullivan is an American lawyer, an English solicitor and an international arbitrator. Reach her at [email protected].

David Zarski is a retired American lawyer and a former English solicitor. Reach him at [email protected]. is accepting queries for original, thoughtful, nonpromotional articles and commentary by unpaid contributors to run in the Your Voice section. Details and submission guidelines are posted at “Your Submissions, Your Voice.”

This column reflects the opinions of the author and not necessarily the views of the ABA Journal—or the American Bar Association.

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