Andrew Damron: Semester Exchange Program in Shanghai

By Andrew Damron ’13

As a law student concentrating in international law, I knew that I wanted to study abroad, but where? While weighing my options, I met with my mentor, Professor Juli Campagna. She has always encouraged me to expand my horizons for becoming a global lawyer by attending ABA Section of International Law workshops, writing for international journal publications and making bold decisions.

In fall 2012 the Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University announced a new semester exchange program in Shanghai. I recognized that studying in China would present an excellent opportunity to gain some greater insight about the U.S. legal system through the lens of another. I decided to make studying in Shanghai my next bold decision. I submitted my application, and I soon found myself living, studying and working in the People’s Republic of China.

From September to December 2012, I studied at East  China University of Political Science and Law. ECUPL presented courses (in English) in Chinese domestic law and in international law. I studied the Chinese legal system, the Chinese legal culture, Chinese contracts law, and the World Trade Organization. Other students who participated in the exchange program came from France, Germany, Ireland, Kazakhstan, Russia, Spain, Switzerland and the United States.

While ECUPL courses met the same number of hours as classes at Hofstra Law, the professors put less emphasis on reviewing materials, giving me more time to focus on an internship and enjoy the cultural experiences in my new surroundings.

In addition to my Chinese academic experience, I interned with MWE China Law Offices, a domestic Chinese law firm that is strategically aligned with McDermott Will & Emery. At MWE China, I worked two days a week in the immense Jin Mao Tower. There I collaborated with foreign counsel on issues relating to outbound foreign direct investment and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Life in Shanghai is fantastic. The city hosts a convergence of diverse cultures — Eastern and Western, rich and poor, old and new. The landscape is always changing; new skyscrapers are under construction in every direction you look. The food is delicious (yes, even the lip-numbing Sichuan cuisine), the art scene is booming (I recommend strolling through the alleyways of Tian Zi Fang) and the nightlife resembles that of New York City.

Both inside and out of the classroom, Shanghai’s boldness profoundly shaped my future as an international lawyer. I’m thrilled to have had this experience, and look forward to applying lifelong lessons throughout my career.

This article appeared in the spring 2013 issue of the Hofstra Law Report.

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