With two Fulbright Scholars in the current master of laws cohort, UB School of Law is cementing its position as a premier destination for top-quality international lawyers looking to level up their careers.
Both are from former Soviet republics—Akbar Vokhidov of Uzbekistan and Olga Voronovich from Belarus—and both will complete their work in the Cross-Border Legal Studies LLM program this spring.
“They each took my International Trade Law class in the fall, and they are currently in my capstone course,” reports Professor Meredith Kolsky Lewis, who directs the Cross-Border Legal Studies Center. “Their different backgrounds—Olga has deep experience representing Belarus as a diplomat, while Akbar has been working for over a decade for a subsidiary of one of the world’s largest oil and gas companies—mean they bring unique perspectives to the classroom. I’m always happy to see either Olga or Akbar volunteering in class, as they offer insightful opinions.”
Each year, the Fulbright Scholar Program, a project of the U.S. State Department, brings about 850 scholars and professionals in all fields to the United States for research and education.
Conversations with the law school's scholars highlight their intelligence, their ambition—and the adventurous spirit that has brought them to Buffalo.
The first rule of doing business internationally is to speak the language. For Akbar Vokhidov, that means fluency in Russian and English as well as his native Uzbek.
Vokhidov works in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, as senior legal counsel for LUKOIL Uzbekistan Operating Co., an oil and gas driller and producer; the company is a subsidiary of the giant Moscow-based energy conglomerate LUKOIL. He has been with the firm for over a decade.
His motivation for pursuing the Fulbright and studying in the United States, he says, was to have a better understanding of common law.
For Olga Voronovich, the pursuit of higher learning—she has studied in Moscow, Singapore, Geneva, her native Belarus and now America—is wrapped up with her hopes for her country and the next stages of its economic transformation.
“Taking my career path into account, it was very logical” to come to Buffalo, she says. “I started thinking about the LLM several years ago. I thought, maybe it was time to start thinking about what I want to do further—how I want Belarus as a country to evolve and how I want to see my homeland do well.”
That means getting deeper into the world of international trade, which represents an evolution from her career as a diplomat.