A big smile and a willingness to help — that’s how international student Liliana Montiel describes Nina S. Hrebenko, a senior programme coordinator for Boston University’s LLM programme.
The descriptions she has for other faculty and staff at BU’s LLM in Banking and Financial Law run in the same vein: Mary Moran Zeven, the programme director, is “amazing” and always “available to help”; Associate Director and Professor Maureen T. Leo, is tough as nails, but she helped Montiel understand and overcome her writing weaknesses.
“All of the professors are so experienced and talented at doing what they do — you can feel how much they enjoy their jobs,” she says.
It’s a school culture that mixes supportive faculty with a well-established LLM programme, and also carries the distinct perks of a Boston location. It’s a combination of factors that can produce compelling results.
Ask any of the diverse and talented students from around the world who arrive at BU Law every year to advance their careers in not just the legal sector, but at leading financial institutions and other industries.
From the very start, they are met with warmth and dedication from the school and department. A team of staff is available to provide personalised counselling. Faculty — who are respected active practitioners — make classrooms come alive with their real-world experiences and specialised knowledge.
Montiel, a former corporate lawyer from Mexico, credits Director Zeven for helping her secure a prestigious internship with a national bank in the city. It means an early rise to beat rush hour, but it’s a small matter for the driven international student seizing an incredible opportunity.
There are classes in the early afternoon that are then followed by several hours of reading to prepare for classes later in the week. If you ask Montiel what her favourite classes are, she will find it hard to pin any single one down There are “so many,” she enthuses. Here are just some of her highlights:
- “Central Banks, Commercial Banks and Financial Markets” — she cites the genius of Professor Mark K. W. Gim and his ability to make complex analysis about macroeconomics and finance engaging
- “Securities Regulation” — because of the fascinating exposure into the origins and reasons behind the regulation of securities, she says
- “Secured Transactions,” “Professional Responsibility,” and “Research and Legal Writing” — for giving her a better understanding of the US legal system
“There is not a single class I haven’t enjoyed during the programme. I really think the programme is so well-structured, and every class is perfectly planned by all professors. Although most of them are very challenging, we finished the programme knowing everything we need and with stronger skills that will allow us to go back to the real world and work in the most competitive places,” she says.
International students at BU’s LLM in Banking and Financial Law programme are also eligible to do a Financial Services Internship, a single credit course designed to meet their specific visa requirements. They’re given the chance to work 10 to 20 hours per week at either a financial institution, law firm, government agency or at non-profit business, where they can develop not just their practical know-how of the workplace, but also learn soft skills. An emphasis is put on providing students with the tools needed to navigate the workplace, courtroom and future employers.
Sports, museums, sightseeing and more
Boston is the intellectual, beating heart of the country. It’s where upstarts demanded a revolution back in 1773 against their British rulers. “No taxation without representation,” they demanded — starting the Boston Tea Party and igniting the shape of the nation to come. It is the perfect setting for 35-year-old Marc Hubacher from Switzerland, who loves to bounce around ideas with classmates in between attending six two-hour lectures each week.
Hubacher also spends time reading and self-studying for other classes in his LLM in Banking and Financial Law programme.
His weekends are for exploring the wide variety of museums, sporting events (there’s one for each season — Boston Bruins, the Red Sox, New England Patriots) and for visiting nearby sightseeing spots.
“No two weekends are the same,” he says.
There are house parties, there’s the Boston nightlife scene, and then there’s incredible seafood in nearby Portland, Maine. It’s “the best seafood in my life so far,” Hubacher states without hesitation. Don’t forget the charming coastal towns to scout — “My favourites are Mystic, Connecticut and Newport, Rhode Island,” he reveals, naming two of New England’s most picturesque, nautical and quaint places.
With so much at his doorstep, he still makes time to check out iconic cities like New York, Washington, DC and Miami.
On campus, there is no shortage of social events to attend. According to Hubacher, the can’t-miss-events are the fall semester’s Halloween party and the annual boat cruise.
When asked to describe the BU Law campus in a word, Hubacher is quick to answer: Exciting.
“From the food court, to the sports facilities, to the libraries, there are plenty of things to discover on campus. The international student community makes the campus really vibrant. It’s a unique atmosphere,” he says.
Montiel agrees. Every Saturday, she plays tennis, visits museums, hikes, dines out, skis, attends festivals, or drops by vineyards — there’s always something different to do.
With so many events, the campus is just as lively as the city of Boston itself — so much so that there just isn’t enough time for Montiel to attend all of the events organised by the law school.
“There is always something happening on campus, either social events, academic events or just holding classes,” she says.
“It is a place full of life.”
Find out more about the LLM in Banking and Financial Law here.