Interview with Valbona Myteberi, Assistant Dean at Cardozo Law
Valbona Mytberi is the Assistant Dean at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. As an LL.M. alum from the school of Law herself, she is in the perfect position to be counselling the school in its Graduate and International Programs. Moreover, because she completed her Bachelors of Law (LL.B.) in Albania, she in an advantageous position to fully grasp the challenges international LL.M. students may be facing.
Why Cardozo School of Law?
Cardozo is a unique law school rooted deeply in traditional values built by a strong and caring community of students and alumni, under the leadership of a world-class faculty, fostering a rich and vibrant intellectual life at the heart of New York City. The teaching is inspiring and innovative. Experiential learning programs such as clinics, field clinics, externships and workshops are combined with traditional doctrinal courses to allow students to learn the law in a comprehensive and impactful way. The goal is for all students to discover what they are capable of doing with their knowledge of the law and to master lawyering skills as early on in the program as possible.
You have been appointed to be the Assistant Dean of Cardozo Law and in charge of the LL.M. programs. How do you plan to provide an extraordinary experience for international LL.M. students?
This is a very important question, which everyone at Cardozo takes very seriously and there is not one simple answer to it. To build an extraordinary program, you need deep commitment and passionate faculty and administrators who care about each and every LL.M. student in a unique and meaningful way. It is important to highlight that we are constantly evaluating our efforts and making improvements whenever needed. Being a small and innovative school, we have the ability to move fast and implement changes accordingly. We strongly believe that an LL.M. degree is a transformative experience that opens up the mind to new horizons and gives you a deeper, better understanding, not only of the U.S. law, but also of the law of each country represented by our diverse LLM class. However, such an advanced degree can be challenging, difficult to tackle and often overwhelming, especially in the beginning of the LL.M. studies. At Cardozo, we do two things very well right from the start:1) we learn each LL.M. student’s individual goals and design their curriculum, networks and resources to help achieve those goals;2) and we work hard on building a community amongst the LL.M. students, so that from day one they have a stronger and caring support system amongst themselves.Access to some of the best curriculum in the country would not mean much if you feel alone, confused or helpless. Building the individual while building a larger community of peers (that would stay connected beyond their year at Cardozo) is an invaluable and empowering experience. This strategy is separated in different phases during their studies: the transitional phase; the immersion phase; and the experiential phase, which continues post graduation.
As an alumni of Cardozo Law, what would you say to the students regarding your experience and Cardozo's programs?
Having come to the States as a foreign law graduate myself, sifting through the information on various LL.M. programs can be an overwhelming task. We often decide to follow what our friends do, where they study, or we just make a decision based on the rankings of U.S. law schools, which is not a bad strategy, but what LL.M. students often don’t know is that the rankings are based on data relevant only to the J.D. programs and they factor in no data from the LL.M. programs of law schools. So, it is very important to do the homework and to identify the right program that fits your goals and your needs.
For me, Cardozo seemed the best option in New York, because it provided small classes, access to brilliant faculty and a rich curriculum open to all J.D. and LL.M. students. After I started my studies, I realized I had made the right choice. From day one, I experienced this dynamic, enriching and empowering diversity that is so characteristic of Cardozo classrooms, interacting with J.D. and LL.M. students, immersing in the learning of the law, yet never feeling intimidated or overwhelmed. I always felt that I could lean on my peers to find a stronger, more confident voice for myself. In addition, it was very rewarding that the faculty got to know all of us and challenged us to new ways of thinking, encouraging a legal curiosity that elevated our understanding and built our confidence without loosing interest or feeling frustrated. I thrived in this environment, knowing that here I was learning to be a leader and that nothing would be out of reach. An education that allowed me to always stay inspired while helping me achieve my professional goals in a warm and caring environment was an education worth pursuing. And that for me was my experience at Cardozo.
Cardozo’s Intellectual Property & Information Law Program has been constantly ranked among the top 10 in the country by U.S. News. How students take advantage of this program and what can they expect as for their career expectations?
Cardozo’s intellectual property and information law program is dynamic, rich and one of the most innovative in the world. Currently ranked #7 among the nation’s law schools this program is thriving by keeping its strong foundation in theory and policy, yet always evolving with the legal issues that arise in today’s technologies, industries and increasingly innovative economies. Just within the past year, for example, Cardozo launched three new initiatives to provide leadership and expand opportunities for students in these booming areas:
• the Tech Startup Clinic
• the Cardozo Data Law Initiative
• the Fashion, Arts, Media and Entertainment Law (FAME) Center
We also initiated our Tech Talks and Fashion Law Talks series to promote discussion with industry professionals and enhance networking opportunities for our J.D. and LL.M. students. If you see our alumni and the careers they have built after graduation from this program, it is just amazing and so inspiring. And each and every one of them takes Cardozo’s reputation very seriously - they want to help the next generation of our IP graduates, by providing more externship and job opportunities for them. My best mornings is when I come to the office and receive a voice mail from a senior vice president or a general counsel at a major company looking to hire a Cardozo student.
Does the University provide any support to help students gain real world experience through clinics and externships?
Cardozo’s experiential learning programs are not just numerous and comprehensive, but also very diverse. They remain competitive, as in most law schools around the country, but the great news is that they always leave seats for LL.M. students, and we make a great effort to help everyone of them gain practical experience, either through externships, field clinics, traditional clinics and/or January practical learning programs. Often the externships turn into one-year fellowship opportunities for them post graduation.
What is the alumni network like? How many alumni do you have? What are their positions and in which countries are they working now?
We have about 990 LLM Alumni who work in the United States and around the world. The global alumni community is strong, and there are official Cardozo Alumni Clubs in Europe, Israel and Japan. The alumni base is an outstanding resource for Cardozo’s faculty, administrative departments and current students, as we nurture our international networks.
The type of career positions that LL.M. graduates obtain are as diverse as the student profiles. Large, small and medium size law firms, general counsel offices of multi-national corporations, non-profit and academic organizations, and governmental offices employ Cardozo LL.M. alumni. Additionally, LL.M. alumni work in many legal fields. However, it is not surprising that there is a strong focus on corporate, intellectual property, dispute resolution and data law programs. This is because the Cardozo community emphasizes networking via coursework, experiential learning and professional development.
Would you like to give any advice to future LL.M Students?
Be optimistic and pursue your dreams stubbornly! Trust your instincts and do your homework before deciding on an LL.M. program. Look at the value of this investment not its costs – you will get a much better return on your investment if you have a long-term vision and approach.
Find out more about Cardozo Law here.