Update from Nigeria: attorney Chukwudi Ofili, LLM Class of 2018, reflects on his post-graduation year

This is one in a series of posts by University of Georgia School of Law LLM students, writing on their participation in our LLM degree and about their post-graduate experiences. Author of this post is alumnus Chukwudi Ofili, a member of the Class of 2018.

Chudi photoIt has been an eventful year for me. In January 2018, during my last semester at the University of Georgia, I began a corporate in-house counsel externship – an experiential learning opportunity open to qualified Georgia Law LLM students – at Coca-Cola headquarters in Atlanta There, I had the opportunity to work on issues such as cybersecurity, imports, and Office of Foreign Assets Control compliance.

Following graduation, I took the New York bar examination in July.  When I learned that I had passed, I was in London, participating in the highly selective International Lawyers For Africa (ILFA) 2018 Flagship Secondment Programme (IFSP), which each year places lawyers from various African jurisdictions at highly reputed international law firms and corporations for a period of three months. I was placed with Trinity International LLP, a niche project and corporate finance firm focusing on energy, infrastructure, resources, and industry. During my secondment, I worked on some international transactions, with focus on financing power and infrastructure projects across the African continent.

Chudi speechIFSP was an enriching and exciting experience. It included training programs and networking events that introduced the participants to some of the brightest minds in the international legal market, in diverse practice areas. In particular, the networking opportunities were immense and may not be replicated in our lives on such a scale. I was pleased to selected to deliver the valedictory address for the London IFSP cohort at the ILFA Gala Night, which marked the end of the program.

I am now happy to be back in Nigeria at Bloomfield Law Practice, in the Corporate, Securities, and Finance practice group. I was recently interviewed for an article in THISDAY Newspaper Nigeria Legal Personality of the Week. In the interview, I expressed my hopes for good prospects in 2019. The year is already off to a good start: I’ve just completed a co-authored article,  Recognition and Enforcement of Cross-Border Insolvency; Nigeria in Perspective.

I came to Georgia Law after working with my firm, Bloomfield Law Practice, having graduated with first-class honors from Babcock University in Nigeria. At Georgia Law, I was the recipient of a prestigious graduate research assistantship, and participated in the Business Law Society.

I will always recommend the Georgia Law LLM curriculum, as it is tailored to each student’s career goals; for example, preparing to sit for a U.S. bar exam, or pursuing a concentration. Plus, students come to find out that Athens (which is just about an hour away from Atlanta) is a lovely place for studies, with friendly people.

Delivering prestigious Gresham College Fulbright Lecture in London, Georgia Law Professor Lori Ringhand analyzes laws regulating online election campaign spending in US and UK

Pleased today to welcome back Lori A. Ringhand, J. Alton Hosch Professor of Law here at the University of Georgia School of Law, and, this Spring 2019 semester, a Fulbright Distinguished Chair at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. In connection with her US-UK Fulbright award, Professor Ringhand gave a prestigious lecture this past Tuesday, April 2, in London. Her account of that lecture – available on video – is below.

I recently had the pleasure of delivering the Gresham College Fulbright Lecture at the Museum of London. Gresham College has been offering free public lectures to residents of London for more than 400 years, and has been offering Fulbright lectures in partnership with the US/UK Fulbright Commission for decades.  Recent Gresham lecturers include eminent public law scholar Vernon Bogdanor,  historian and author Timothy Garton Ash, and current Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow.

My lecture focused on the challenges faced by lawmakers in the United States and the United Kingdom as they try to ensure that campaign finance laws remain relevant in the age of widespread online electioneering. As both nations have discovered, our existing regimes are not built for a world in which political advertising spreads, rapidly, organically, and often anonymously, through online social media platforms.

Regulators in the US and the UK nonetheless rarely look to each other’s experiences to inform their own thinking in this complex area. The election law systems of each country are seen as so fundamentally different that comparative consideration seems pointless.

As I explained in my Gresham Lecture, I disagree.

The differences in regulatory approaches certainly are real, and significant:

  • In the UK, political spending is limited, and most of it runs through political parties and regulated third-party campaigners, with outside or unregulated groups historically playing little role.
  • In the US, in contrast, political spending is increasingly dominated by outside groups, which can both raise and spend unlimited amounts of money, often entirely outside of the federal regulatory system.

But in regard to regulating online election activity, the similarities between the two nations are much more meaningful than the differences. As I laid out in the talk, the regulatory challenges presented by online electioneering difficult in both principle and practice, but they are fundamentally the same in each country. Consequently, there is a great deal we can learn from each other in this area.

I hope my lecture helps us take a necessary first step in that direction.

UK Consul General Andrew Staunton addresses Brexit at Georgia Law

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Andrew Staunton, Consul General of the United Kingdom pictured with Kathleen A. Doty, Director of Dean Rusk International Law Center

Last week, the Consul General of the United Kingdom Andrew Staunton delivered a lecture at the University of Georgia School of Law, “Leaving the EU: Impact on U.K.-U.S. Relations.” The event was the most recent installment of the Dean Rusk International Law Center’s ongoing Consular Series. The Consular Series presents students, staff, and faculty with global perspectives on international trade, cooperation, development, and policy.

In his lecture, Consul General Staunton described the political and economic context surrounding the British exit from the European Union and outlined the primary areas currently under negotiation. Describing the situation as “trying to take a raw egg out of a baked cake,” the Consul General nevertheless stressed that the United Kingdom will continue to work collaboratively with Europe and the United States to address international concerns. He emphasized that the United Kingdom will remain a strategic trading partner with the United States, and particularly with the Southeast.

Consul General Staunton has been a part of the United Kingdom’s diplomatic service since 1987. Prior to his current post as the Consul General in Atlanta, he served as Deputy Head of Mission and Economic Counsellor at the British Embassy in Athens, Greece. He was also Deputy Head of Mission at the British Embassy in Dublin, Ireland. Prior to these postings, Consul General Staunton served overseas in China, France, Romania, and Canada.

Watch the full lecture, including an introduction by Professor Diane Marie Amann, below:

UK Consul General Andrew Staunton to speak on Brexit at Georgia Law

The Dean Rusk International Law Center at the University of Georgia School of Law will welcome Consul General Andrew Staunton to campus on Tuesday, February 12, 2019. He will give a lecture, “Leaving the EU: Impact on UK-US Relations.”

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Staunton is the United Kingdom’s Consul General in Atlanta. He took up the position in June 2018, after serving for four years as the Deputy Head of Mission and Economic Counselor at the British Embassy in Athens, Greece. He also served as Deputy Head of Mission at the British Embassy in Dublin from 2009 to 2013. His time in Greece and Ireland coincided with critical points in each countries respective economies.

A career diplomat since 1987, Staunton has also held posts in China, France, Romania and Canada.

This event is presented as part of the Dean Rusk International Law Center’s Consular Series, which brings to campus perspectives on international trade, development, policy, and cooperation during the 2018-2019 academic year. The Consular Series is co-sponsored by the International Law Society, Georgia Law’s chapter of the International Law Students Association.

This installment of the Series coincides with the Center’s long-standing tradition of celebrating the birthday of another career diplomat – former Secretary of State and our Center’s namesake, Dean Rusk. In honor of Dean Rusk’s 110th birthday, lunch and celebratory cupcakes will be served.

Details here.

Georgia Law Professor Harlan Cohen presents at European Society of International Law annual meeting in the UK

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Harlan Grant Cohen, the Gabriel M. Wilner/UGA Foundation Professor in International Law and Faculty Co-Director of the Dean Rusk International Law Center here at the University of Georgia School of Law, recently presented at the annual meeting of the European Society of International Law in Manchester, United Kingdom.

Cohen presented his paper, entitled “What is International Trade Law For?” as part of the International Economic Law Interest Group Roundtable, “The Multilateral Trading System in Trouble.”

Known by its acronym ESIL, the goals of the European Society of International Law “are to contribute to the rule of law in international relations and to promote the study of public international law.”

Law in Practice International Interns from Sheffield Hallam University visit the Dean Rusk International Law Center for training

Group Photo RuskLast week, the Dean Rusk International Law Center was pleased to co-present a training with Sheffield Hallam University on criminal law and human rights for eight law students from the United Kingdom. Organized by Dr. Laura Kagel, Associate Director for International Professional Education at the Dean Rusk International Law Center, and Michael Edwards (J.D. ’93), Senior Lecturer in Law and Criminology at Sheffield Hallam University, the four-day training was designed to prepare the students for summer internships they will undertake in the United States.

Faculty from both universities lectured on relevant topics. These included Georgia Law professors: Anne Burnett on legal research methods; Andrea Dennis on evidence; and Russel Gabriel on criminal procedure. From Sheffield Hallam University Michael Edwards lectured on international human rights and civil rights law, and Christopher Riley presented an introduction to the student internships.

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In addition to coursework, while in Athens, the students observed court proceedings and met with local prosecutors and court officials to hear about treatment and accountability courts. Organized by Assistant District Attorney Paige Otwell (J.D. ‘88), this discussion was particularly engaging, as England currently only has one court of this type. Students also spent a day learning more about advocacy and civil rights in Atlanta. The students prepared and presented mock oral arguments at the Supreme Court of Georgia, toured the State Capitol, and visited the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Site. They also visited the Southern Center for Human Rights, where Tiffany Williams Roberts, Community Engagement and Movement Building Counsel, discussed the work of the non-profit law firm.

The Sheffield students are now off to begin their internships; we wish them an enriching summer!

Professor Bruner compares UK, US business practices in new “Research Handbook on Fiduciary Law”

Christopher M. Bruner, J. Alton Hosch Professor of Law here at the University of Georgia School of Law, has just published “Opting Out of Fiduciary Duties and Liabilities in U.S. and U.K. Business Entities.” It appears as a chapter in a 2018 Edward Elgar volume, entitled Research Handbook on Fiduciary Law, and edited by D. Gordon Smith, Dean and Glen L. Farr Professor of Law at Brigham Young University’s J. Reuben Clark Law School,  and Andrew S. Gold, Professor of Law at DePaul University College of Law.

Here’s the SSRN abstract for Bruner’s contribution:

This chapter explores the extent of contractual freedom to opt out of fiduciary duties and liabilities in U.S. and U.K. business entities, including the U.S. corporation, general partnership, limited partnership, limited liability partnership, and limited liability company, and the U.K. limited company, general partnership, limited partnership, and limited liability partnership.

Discernible commonalities emerge from this comparative analysis. Notably, corporate law readily permits reducing liability exposure for breaches of duty in each jurisdiction, yet provides only quite limited capacity to carve back at the substance of the duties themselves. Meanwhile, unincorporated entities in each jurisdiction offer substantially greater latitude to limit the duties themselves, in some cases resulting in purely contractual business relationships.

Yet substantial differences are also apparent. U.S. corporate law permits greater insulation from liability exposure, and U.S. unincorporated entities generally provide clearer and more extensive latitude to eliminate default duties of loyalty and care outright (particularly in Delaware). One cannot comprehensively declare that U.S. law universally deviates further from the “fiduciary” governance paradigm, however, because the U.K. limited liability partnership has gone further by providing an entity form in which no such general default duties apply at all.

The analysis raises some complex comparative questions, and the chapter closes with brief reflections on why such trends, commonalities, and divergences may have arisen.