Lawyer Abroad

By Sheila Pursglove

Legal News

Cooley law professor Paul Carrier considers himself a "local boy made good."

After using his Michigan education to launch an international law career, he returned to the Great Lakes State to share his extensive international experience with his students.

A legal career was a natural fit for Carrier -- his father was a lawyer, and his sister was in law school. He decided to follow suit.

"A downturn in the mortgage banking market led me to move," he says. "As soon as I got there, I was ecstatic to continue studying in the humanities, and I found a great avenue to exercise discipline.

"This might have been the first time that I had latched onto some real direction in thought, in career."

A graduate of the University of Michigan, Carrier earned his J.D., summa cum laude, from Michigan State University-Detroit College of Law and an LL.M., with distinction, in private international law, from Georgetown University Law Center. He served as a law clerk with former Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Dorothy Comstock Riley; research attorney for the Michigan Court of Appeals; research attorney for former Chief Judge T. John Lesinski, Thomas M. Burns, and former Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas Giles Kavanagh; and as law clerk to the Office of the General Counsel for Ford Motor Co.

Not yet ready to settle down however, he headed off abroad to teach, and then to work for two of the largest law firms worldwide.

A Fulbright scholarship first took him abroad as a senior teaching scholar/professor of law for the Law Faculty of Comenius University, Slovak Republic. He then continued to teach for the Institute for International Relations and Law Approximation, Faculty of Law, Comenius University. He also taught a series of week-long seminars on legal English for Slovak Judges with assistance from ABA CEELI.

"I wanted to learn more about the bigger world," he says. "Though I'm not a traveler by nature, I do try to gain new experience and a broader outlook than is possible when staying in one place. The world is a big place, and it's getting smaller every day."

After finishing the full-time teaching assignment at a law faculty in the Slovak Republic, Carrier landed a job with Squire, Sanders & Dempsey in Bratislava, Slovakia, where as an international corporate associate he worked on mergers and acquisitions, international syndicated financing issues, anti-monopoly authority filings, company establishment, and other general corporate issues.

He then worked as an international corporate associate with Lovells (now Hogan Lovells) in Prague, on mergers and acquisitions, including international distribution agreements for a major beer producer, due diligence on Czech food products manufacturer for sale to an EU-based conglomerate, and other international corporate work. Throughout, he continued to teach as an adjunct professor and to publish law articles.

Working abroad was not without its challenges. In one sensitive meeting with a large firm client, a major manufacturer, his translator was not allowed to be present.

"It was necessary at several points to explain myself in a foreign language -- of which I was decent, but certainly not a master," Carrier says. "Once the door closed after the meeting, I heard laughter. As it turns out -- and I found out the next day -- everyone in the room spoke perfect English. That was a stressful experience."

At Cooley, Carrier teaches or assists in many international courses including Property, European Union Law, and Advanced Practice Skills-International. He is also a co-coach of Jessup International Moot Court Competition Team.

Last year, he organized, with the Grand Rapids International Law Society, a presentation by human rights activist Jason Glaser over his work with the rural poor in Nicaragua; and helped to supervise and organize panel discussions for the 2009 International Law Students Association (ILSA), personally securing two experts on international government procurement to present.

"In addition to being a teacher by nature, I appreciate Cooley's focus on practical legal education as the proper way for joining knowledge with needs," he says. "Scholarship without real purpose is not enough; objectives without knowledge or skills similarly leave something to be desired. Teaching at Cooley requires attention to numerous facets of the law and practice.

"An added bonus is Cooley's commitment to innovation. World changes will require local responses, even in the teaching business. For that, Cooley is a great place to be."

Published: Wed, Oct 20, 2010

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