Olivier Moréteau: Bonjour Sara! I remember the day when you arrived from Nantes for a three-month internship at the CCLS, to work on the French translation of the Louisiana Civil Code. After doing fine legal translation work, you joined our LL.M., worked at the Louis Koerner Law Firm in New Orleans, and passed the New York Bar! You are now a Legal Compliance Officer at Northwestern University. Remind us of your arrival at LSU.
Sara Vono: In 2015, I first joined LSU as an intern. I was honored to help with the ambitious translation project of the Louisiana Civil Code, back into its original French. It was an incredible journey under your leadership and contagious passion. The project was a unique learning experience for me, and provided outstanding legal training.
OM: You then joined our LL.M. in Comparative Law. How would you describe your experience?
SV: I would put it in three words:
The LL.M. is first and foremost a once-in-a-lifetime legal adventure, as it is completely immersive in the mixed Louisiana legal traditions. LL.M. candidates enroll in classes of all levels, very much “à la carte”, in that we are encouraged to shape the year around the areas of the law that we are most curious about, and interested in career-wise.
The LL.M. challenged me intellectually and practically. From the intellectual standpoint, the LL.M. has opened my mind to other legal concepts, rules, and philosophies, which in turn has helped me better understand my Civil law background. From a practical standpoint, I would say that student life, methods for studying, and test formats are generally different, which is equally challenging and enriching.
Last but not least, the LL.M. is an immense legal family worldwide. I have friends in Sri Lanka, Romania, Luxembourg, France, and in many States within the United States, which would never have happened without the LL.M. I am thankful for these long-lasting friendships and professional ties.
OM: What opportunities did you have while attending the LL.M. Program?
SV: While attending the LLM in Comparative Law Program at LSU, one can seek academically-related employment, such as Library Assistant, Tutor, Research Assistant, etc. I was working as a Research Assistant to Prof. Olivier Moréteau, helping with various projects, ranging from legal research in support of articles subsequently published in top law journals, to preparing for a conference, to meticulous proofreading, or translating complex drafts. I can only recommend working to students interested in making immediate use of the skillset their legal curriculum provides them.
Moreover, there are plenty of events throughout the Program duration, on a variety of legal topics, as well as many different ways to network with inspiring lawyers and Professors, and become an active member of the LSU Law Community on Campus, and beyond. Likewise, there are many ways to volunteer during your year at LSU.
OM: Sara, tell us about a recent achievement.
SV: A most recent achievement has been to join the rigorous field of Research Integrity, which means a lot to me, as a lawyer, and as a citizen. Promoting integrity in scientific research is in my opinion a useful way in which a lawyer can contribute to more law-abiding and ethically-driven science, in our global 2.0 century, while putting the full palette of my legal skillset into good use. Integrity in science is essential, as any lack thereof is a threat to science itself.
OM: To what extent did the LSU program contribute to your life experience and success?
SV: I am thankful for the LL.M. in Comparative Law, as it has defined part of the lawyer I am today. Whether it be on professional orientation, legal/organizational skills, ability to adapt, connect with others, “think outside the box”, or simply exchange ideas with brilliant minds, the LL.M. has helped me grow as a lawyer, while opening doors such as the New York State Bar, that would have remained closed otherwise.
OM: What would you say to anyone interested in the LSU program but still hesitating?
SV: In the words of Lewis Carroll, “[i]n the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take, the relationships we were afraid to have, and the decisions we waited too long to make.” While I am cognizant of the risks and challenges inherent in spending one year abroad, LSU will be a welcoming second home, and the LL.M. curriculum, excellent food for the brain. If one of our objectives as lawyers is to share our passion for the law, be open to/curious about other legal cultures (especially a mixed pot like Louisiana), improve our legal system, and aspire to be better at what we do, then the LL.M. in Comparative Law is a chance that will be regretted if not taken.
OM: Thank you Sara, LSU Law wishes you the best of success and happiness in your present and future ventures!