First International Graduate Programs Reunion hailed a great success

Photo of International Reunion Welcome Dinner

International Reunion Welcome Dinner

Seventeen LL.M. alumni  attended Wake Forest University School of Law’s first International Graduate Programs Reunion held Nov. 9 – 11 in Winston-Salem. 

Weibke Holzapfel (’03), an associate at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP in Frankfurt, Germany, said, “I thoroughly enjoyed being back at Wake Forest, seeing old friends and making new ones. The reunion was a big success and calls for a da capo.”

Holzapfel was among the alumni who traveled from Bolivia, China, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, and Switzerland to attend the reunion along with current LL.M. students and SJD candidates.

One of the notable attendees was Francesco Ferrini (’98), a member of the inaugural LL.M. class.  Ferrini is an attorney at IuraPlus Studio Legale in Milan, Italy, where he specializes in banking law, capital markets law, and international financial operations. “I really enjoyed the LL.M. reunion.” Ferrini said. “I had the opportunity to meet LL.M alumni and they shared with me their experiences about graduate coursework at Wake Forest as well as their current working experience in their home country. Indeed, the reunion was an opportunity to make new friends and to develop new professional and social relationships.  Also, the LLM reunion gave me the opportunity to meet again, after almost fourteen years, with Faculty and staff and most important, it made me feel like I am part of this university.”

The alumni gathered at the welcome dinner at the Millennium Center on Friday night, where they reunited with each other and former Wake Forest law professors. Other reunion activities included a family picnic in the School of Law’s courtyard, a campus tour, a trip to Old Salem, and a farewell brunch.

Christian Wyss (’05), an attorney in the Corporate and Mergers & Acquisitions Practice Group of Vischer Ltd. in Switzerland, said “the reunion was a great opportunity both to catch up with my LL.M. classmates and to meet a number of truly inspiring colleagues from countries throughout the globe. It was fun to be back in Winston-Salem, touring around the campus, enjoying the sunny fall weather, drinking coffee at Simply Yummy, eating Krispy Kreme doughnuts, going to bars we were hanging out at the time, and much more.”

On Saturday, several alumni held a symposium to discuss why they came to Wake Forest and how they use the knowledge they gained as LL.M. students in their legal practices today.

Manuel Moctezuma (‘04), a partner at Chalela, Enriquez, y Moctezuma S.C. in Mexico City, lead the symposium along with Daniel Millares (‘05) from Bolivia, Samuel Chacon (‘05) and Victor Manzano (‘07) from Mexico.  As his 6-year-old son doodled at a desk and his 2-year old-daughter hopped on the steps of one of his former classrooms, Moctezuma discussed how valuable his LL.M. degree is to his current practice.

“I am privileged to [attend the reunion] with my family and show my kids where I studied,” he said.

The Master of Laws (LL.M.) program in American Law is a one-year program of study for international students and practicing lawyers who have law degrees from their home countries and who wish to enhance their legal careers by studying the laws of the United States.  Since the LL.M. program’s inception in 1996, Wake Forest law school has enrolled 210 international students and lawyers from 39 countries. The program’s alumni include prominent private attorneys, judges, government officials, in-house attorneys, general counsels and SJD candidates.

Richard Schneider, the Associate Dean of International Affairs, predicts that this will not be Wake Forest law school’s last International Graduate Programs reunion.

“The reunion exceeded my expectations,” he said.  “The sight of so many familiar faces and voices from so many LL.M. classes really made me very happy and proud to be a part of this program.  The international network of Wake Forest LL.M.s is growing and is now that much more vibrant.  Frankly, I can’t wait until the next reunion!”