Group of 2022 Jump Start students and Professor McDonald posing for a photo.

UB Jump Start students attend their first day of classes for 2022.

Putting Both Feet First: The UB Law Jump Start Experience

Published November 2, 2022

Seeking the truth and advocating for justice are some of the core tenets of the legal profession no matter where you come from. That being said, geography can certainly play a part in how a legal system operates. The intricacies of America’s legal system often require more of an in-depth primer, and luckily for our students—especially our foreign-trained attorneys—UB Law’s Jump Start Program is here to help! We spoke to three Jump Start participants to learn a little more about them and their Jump Start experience. Franco Mirolo ’21, a two-year JD alumnus; Pablo Suarez Namen ’23, a current Criminal Law LL.M.; and Bamisope Adeyanju ’23, a current two-year JD, each gave us their thoughts on UB Law, why they chose Buffalo and their experience in the Jump Start program.

Before We Kick Things Off, What is Jump Start?

Jump Start is UB Law’s extended orientation program facilitated by William MacDonald, Director of Academic Success. The free immersive three-week program is designed to expose students to the fundamentals of the U.S. legal system, by covering the essentials of reading and understanding case law, introducing legal writing concepts, delving into legal vocabulary, and practicing speaking, reading, writing and listening to legal English.

“Our goal for Jump Start is for participants to feel comfortable being law students, both in and out of the classroom, from day one,” says Meredith Kolsky Lewis, Vice Dean for International and Graduate Programs. Alongside the immersive classroom experience, through Jump Start students will have the chance to meet other classmates, obtain their UB IDs, attend mandatory university-wide orientation sessions and visit local legal and cultural sites.

On week two of the program, a group of incoming three-year JD students join in for our domestic program. Stay tuned for on upcoming blog to hear from our three-year JD participants. Visit the UB Jump Start page for more information.

Now, let’s dive into why our Jump Start participants chose UB Law. 

What Motivated You to Come to UB Law?

Photo of Franco Mirolo ’21.

Franco Mirolo ’21

UB Law is an enticing law school option for many reasons—the attractive student-to-faculty ratio, the affordable tuition as part of the SUNY system, or maybe because of the tight-knit legal community that continues to give back. For these three, it was a combination!

“From the ages of 9-17, I studied English at an American-Argentinian binational institute,” says Franco Mirolo, who hails from Cordoba, Argentina. “At this institution, I learned not only the language but also American culture.” Franco graduated from the Universidad Nacional de Cordoba’s law school program in 2017 and then worked as an attorney. “During law school, I also participated in several summer work and travel programs, as part of a U.S. Department of State program through which college students from certain countries get to work in the U.S. during our summer breaks. Through this program, I spent a few winters in Utah, where I made tons of friends and connections. I eventually chose UB because it best suited my academic interests,” Franco added.

Photo of Pablo Suarez Namen ’23.

Pablo Suarez Namen ’23

Pablo Suarez Namen also came to UB Law with a deep law background. As a Criminal Defense Attorney from outside the U.S., Suarez Namen wanted to learn from the system that shaped his native Colombian system. “Before coming to UB Law to pursue my LL.M. degree, I achieved three previous degrees in Law—two in Colombian universities and one in Spain.” When choosing to attending law school in the U.S., Pablo explained that “the Colombian criminal procedure relied in the American criminal adversarial system, I wanted to learn its principles directly from where it was invented.” And as for why UB? “UB offers a concentration/specialization in Criminal Law, which was the determinative factor for me at deciding to come here," said Suarez Namen.

Photo of Bamisope Adeyanji ’23.

Bamisope Adeyanji ’23

Bamisope Adeyanju—also an attorney in her native country Nigeria—chose UB to transition effectively to U.S. Corporate Law because of the hands-on attention she knew she’d receive. “I chose the University at Buffalo School of Law’s two-year JD program because of its impressively lean student-to-professor ratio and the quality of education and experience of the professors—the majority of whom attended the best law schools in the US and the world. I also wanted to be an East Coast US attorney, and UB Law was the best and most affordable on my list of East Coast law schools.”

As you see, all three of these folks have extensive knowledge of the law, so why do they need an extended orientation program? Well, let’s find out why this program is so helpful!

What Did You Find Most Beneficial About the Jump Start Program?

Suarez Namen sums it up perfectly: “Jump Start is more than awesome! For foreign attorneys who, like me, were raised and legally educated under a civil-law tradition, starting a degree in law in a common-law system may be a really big challenge. Jump Start made it much easier for us.”

Suarez Namen also gave a shout out to Professor Luis Chiesa for his wonderful Criminal Law class, but he wasn’t the only UB faculty member to get a kudos. “Professor MacDonald was very helpful and experienced in dealing with foreign students,” said Mirolo. “Jump Start helped me learn how everything works at UB, particularly at the law school. I also met some of my first law school friends and forged relationships that lasted throughout law school and continued afterward.”

“The program exposed me deeply to how the U.S. legal system works in theory, the opportunities for experiential learning in the law school (through clinics, externships, etc.), and the vast array of doctrinal courses available for my choosing,” said Adeyanju.

Even though they all have legal backgrounds and education, each Jump Start participant found the program to benefit them in their own special way. So, what would they say to others like them?

What Advice Do You Have for Foreign-Trained attorneys attending UB Law?

“If you don’t feel confident about your English skills, practice, practice, practice!” says Mirolo. “Nothing will make it easier than being able to understand your professors, peers, and textbooks than feeling confident about your language skills.”

“The UB law school’s two-year JD program recognizes that you are already an international attorney from your home country and allows you to earn an accelerated U.S. law degree,” said Adeyanju. “For me, the most essential feature of the Jump Start program is that you get the same quality of education and opportunities as the traditional three-year JD students.”

“Do not hesitate in coming to UB,” Suarez Namen states plainly. “It is a great place with great people, awesome academic quality and a great atmosphere. You will love it here.”

We want to thank our Jump Start participants for taking the time to speak with us about their experiences and wish them the best of luck in their legal futures! If you have additional questions about the Jump Start program or applying to UB Law, please reach out to the Office of Admissions.

Additional Resources

Photo of Laurel Root.

Laurel Root is the Director of Recruitment and Admissions at the University at Buffalo School of Law.

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