One attorney’s reflections on OSBA’s international lawyer training

​Oct. 31, 2017

By Vivi Sdrenia

A few months ago, I was honored to be admitted to the Ohio State Bar Association and receive training as an international legal professional. As an intern at the OSBA, I have had the opportunity to collect valuable experiences and work with inspiring people that contribute to the promotion of the legal profession and the advancement of the justice system in Ohio. Through this experience, I am trying to learn as much as possible about the characteristics of the legal world in the United States.

Last August, I had the chance to get a different kind of exposure by participating in a Rule of Law Program. It was held by the Columbus International Program (CIP) and offered me excellent insight into the American legal reality.

CIP, which is a non-profit organization committed to promoting international understanding through professional development and cross-cultural exchange, ran a two-week program for Judge Ilunga from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and me, an attorney from Greece. By meeting and interacting with Judge Ilunga in this short journey, I had the pleasure of learning a lot about life and culture in DRC, as well as some African customs and traditions. Additionally, we talked about the judicial systems in our countries, which are actually quite similar since both follow the civil law system.

Throughout the program, we met legal professionals who welcomed us at their workplaces and discussed a variety of topics, such as the differences and similarities between the common and civil law system and the practice of capital punishment. Thanks to their experience and perspective, we were offered enlightening presentations on the legal system in the U.S. In particular, we attended hearings at the Franklin County Courts with Judge Brunner, who further clarified for us the procedural rules and the way the judiciary branch is structured in general. We received a tour of the Supreme Court of Ohio where we met with the Director of Judicial Services and the Director of Public Information. Our discussion focused on Ohio's judicial system and the appellate process. Furthermore, we discussed the challenges of practicing law in the U.S. for attorneys of different specialties. We had the chance to address aspects of Public and Administrative Law with staff members of the Franklin County Auditor Office, the City of Dublin and the City Attorney, whose office filled with maps was an interesting surprise.

Last but not least, I could not elide our participation in some sessions of the American Language Law program at the Moritz College of Law. I admired the style of the lectures, which was quite different from what I am used to. Everything from the class size to the shape of the room was designed to facilitate the active participation of the students. We met law students and attorneys from all over the world and felt like students again, which is always fun without exams.

To summarize, I truly enjoyed my involvement in the program. It was one of those experiential learning opportunities that help you broaden your horizons and enhance your potential. Most importantly, in addition to gaining valuable knowledge, I am glad that I met all of these welcoming and respectful people who contributed in their way to make our program an unforgettable experience and a story to tell.

Vivi, Judge Ilunga and Judge Sean Gallagher inside the Cuyahoga County Courthouse in Cleveland.



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