Four Executive LL.M. students from vastly different backgrounds reflect on how the program has benefited them personally and professionally.
Immune to the breakneck speed of globalization and digitalization, the legal field is evolving to keep pace with the developing needs of our increasingly interconnected world. IE University’s Executive LL.M. offers experienced lawyers the opportunity to reinvent their skill set by gaining a nuanced understanding of EU and US law, plus a solid knowledge of business principles.
The Executive LL.M. is a joint degree offered by two of the world’s leading law schools: IE Law School and Northwestern Pritzker School of Law. Uniting these two academic powerhouses ensures participants get the best of both worlds in a unique program that integrates business administration content into a legal framework.
But what perhaps stands out most about the Executive LL.M. program is its added benefit: a cohort that is highly diverse in personal and professional background, but united in their passion for multi-jurisdictional law.
We spoke to four such students about their experience in the program: Julia Taddei, Thomas Powell, Jimena Villegas, and Okezi Uwede-Meshack. These students shared their personal stories of joining an international community, which has brought them a great opportunity to learn new topics that align with their career paths. Here, they share how the Executive LL.M. program has served as a catalyst that will help them strengthen their abilities and reach their goals in the legal world.
Why did you decide to pursue the Executive LL.M. at IE University?
Julia Taddei, General Counsel at Petrobras Netherlands BV, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
I decided to do the program to get a better knowledge of Common Law, and I feel that that’s already happening only a few months into the program. Learning from very experienced professors makes a huge difference. I am seeing things I experienced working in Civil Law, but now through a Common Law lens, and having the structure of a classroom really helps. One example is that in class, we are learning about Contract Law under the Common Law. This is something I was doing before but only through trial and error. Now I really know what I’m doing because of the in-class training I receive.
How has the Executive LL.M shaped you as a learner and worker?
Okezi Uwede-Meshack, Lead Counsel at General Electric, Francophone, Lagos, Nigeria
This has been a very good program for me as I’ve been able to learn everything from contract drafting to international arbitration. It’s a balance—it has given me more legal knowledge, but it is also helping me learn how to be more effective in my work. The financial accounting and business courses have been very helpful for me. The business part is new for me, but it’s something that I can apply to my work every day.
What is your experience in the classroom like?
Tom Powell, private equity business, San Francisco, California, USA
I’m one of the few nonlawyers in the class. I’ve been working in Silicon Valley since the 80s and I chose this program because of the diversity of the classmates. Studying in both Chicago and Spain is great, and has given me a true international experience. The classes have been of wonderful benefit because they layer into each other so well. For example, I have been able to take the international arbitration class. While we deal with arbitration in the United States, we don’t deal with international arbitration.
I highly recommend that anyone in business pursues a Master of Laws because it really does impact the business.
What is something that you have learned in the Executive LL.M. program that you can directly apply to your current job?
Jimena Villegas, General Legal & Compliance Counsel at Nexans, Lima, Peru
This program has majorly impacted my career, mainly because I have met such an interesting group of people. I was happy to learn more about United States Common Law issues, rather than only about my civil background from Latin America.
We lawyers don’t like numbers, and this program has challenged that. I really appreciate the classes because they have been a great review of everything I know and have helped me become more confident in applying the information I’m learning to my work.
The Executive LL.M. summed up in four words:
Across all classes and programs, students can feel and experience great diversity. This makes for meaningful class discussions and unique collaborative experiences. In any given program, you’ll meet students from Nigeria to Ghana to Latin America. These interactions are the most direct and rewarding ways to discover new ideas and perspectives.
Classes in the Executive LL.M. push you to question what you know and consider new points of view. They help you become both a better thinker and a better team member.
All the subjects in the Executive LL.M. are practical and applicable to the field of law and to daily life. Students learn how to better work with peers in tough situations, to think critically about difficult topics and to reach new heights as law experts.
This program is intensive and fast-paced. As Okezi says, “It pushes me beyond my boundaries and stretches my learning—I can literally feel my brain expand!”
Learning in a globalized world
These four students—coming from four different corners of the world—have found that their experience in the Executive LL.M. is the perfect combination of both legal and business education and the opportunity to make connections with international peers.
Whether drafting contracts in Chicago, or learning about international arbitration in Madrid, the knowledge and experience students gain in the Executive LL.M. make for a remarkable and impactful educational experience.