By Marissa Guitierrez
This fall, 246 students from 41 countries enrolled in Berkeley Law’s LL.M. program, bringing a wide range of experiences and perspectives from around the world that greatly enrich the school community.
Designed to prepare foreign attorneys for global practice, the degree provides a solid grounding in the fundamentals of American law while allowing for customization based on individual interests. Students can earn specialty certificates in multiple areas of law, pursue eligibility to register for a U.S. bar exam, and write a thesis.
While this new class is part of the traditional and thesis tracks, where students graduate within an academic year, the LL.M. program also offers two options in its executive track.
Here’s a look at three members of the talented new class.
A cleaner future
For Elizabeth Simanjuntak, environmental justice has long been at the center of her concerns. After moving to a heavily polluted city in Indonesia, she remembers being impacted by issues around clean energy and technology at a young age.
“I saw my hometown suffer from an urgent energy deficit,” she says. “My father made me realize that studying law, specifically related to energy and environmental law, could allow me to improve the management and deployment of energy in our hometown, and, hopefully from the rest of my home country.”
Recognizing education as a privilege, Simanjuntak challenged herself to excel in her studies and experience. Now Legal Analyst to the President for Energy and Environmental Law at the Ministry of State Secretariat of the Republic of Indonesia, she has helped analyze and draft laws while guiding energy policy in the Republic of Indonesia. in a way that reflects his country’s move towards a cleaner future.
“Choosing a career path to work with government has allowed me to broaden my contribution and involvement directly in the formulation of Indonesia’s energy law, regulation and policy,” she says.
One project that particularly resonated was working with his ministry’s intergovernmental team on numerous bills and legislation related to renewable energy. Having deepened her passion for energy law through these contributions, she realized that pursuing her LL.M. in the United States would provide invaluable knowledge about renewable energy.
Simanjuntak says she knew Berkeley Law was the right fit because of its large community of thought leaders who share a similar passion for energy law, an area she says is underdeveloped in her native country. Currently pursuing a certificate in clean energy and technologies, she hopes to advance her knowledge base with an interdisciplinary approach – one she can bring back to Indonesia to propel evidence-based regulations and innovations that solve the problems that prevent his country to optimize its energy resources.
“As I return to Indonesia and continue to work for the government, I will demonstrate this advanced knowledge through my involvement in the intergovernmental team,” says Simanjuntak. “This will allow me to provide more in-depth legal advice and consultation to other government departments on topical issues, such as energy tax incentives, pricing systems, low carbon policies and sustainable energy initiatives. .”
In search of social transformation
Growing up in Colombia, David Garzón García had two strong factors that motivated his interest in law.
“The first is my mother. She is an empowered woman who fought in her own way against sexual oppression, which made me very sensitive to patterns of injustice,” he says. “The second, related to my sexual orientation as a cisgender gay man, allowed me to see how the normalization of hate speech sometimes works through legal and social devices to punish and nullify diversity. In this context, I realized that there were people who were committed to transforming these oppressive structures, and one of the tools they used was the law.
Through his unwavering commitment to working for social justice, Garzón-García has already had a positive impact on his community as chief of staff to Colombian Senator Jorge Londoño. With privileged opportunities in this position to explore his interests in administrative and constitutional law, Garzón-García felt drawn to Berkeley Law because of its commitment to social and environmental justice. Now he appreciates having a space where he can learn new things and broaden his perspective.
“I am very interested in the political moment that the United States is going through with regard to fundamental rights,” says Garzón-García. “I believe that difficult times serve as catalysts for social movements to find new ways and strategies to defend the rights of people. I wanted to study in a place with a strong position… of respect and unwavering defense of the rights of disadvantaged groups.
Currently, Garzón-García is pursuing a Certificate of Specialization in Public Interest and Social Justice Law to complement her work in Colombia. But since joining Berkeley Law, he has discovered a new passion for environmental law, in which he also plans to specialize.
“For me, the law is a narrative that pursues specific goals and values aimed at realizing the well-being of people and achieving social and environmental justice,” says Garzón-García. “I believe that my academic and professional experience will allow me to better participate and contribute to this common narrative.
“My goal and my greatest privilege would be to serve as a judge in Colombia and one day become a judge in the Constitutional Court. I firmly believe in an administration of justice attached to fundamental rights and capable of contributing to social transformation through its institutional role.
When the time is right
“The United States is home to some of the best universities in the world,” says LL.M. student Anneke Bossard. “Deciding where to go is always a difficult decision. In the end, my decision to enroll in Berkeley was easy…I feel lucky to be here.
Bossard was initially offered admission to Berkeley Law’s LL.M. Program five years ago. But near the end of an internship, she had just been offered a position as a young public defender in the remote outback of Australia, and the timing was not right.
“I had limited experience working in the trenches of the justice system and limited understanding of the glaring disadvantage that permeates the Indigenous criminal justice space in Australia,” says Bossard. “I knew that a deeper understanding of these issues would inform my postgraduate studies. So instead of pursuing an LL.M., I moved upcountry to work for an indigent advocacy service dedicated to advocating for some of the most incarcerated people in the world, Indigenous Australians.
Her initial spark to fight injustice came from her personal experience. Bossard didn’t grow up wanting to be a lawyer, but eventually went that route after watching the justice system fail someone close.
Bossard began her career as Clerk to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory. Initially, she thought she would become a civil litigation lawyer, but eventually pivoted to criminal law.
“Criminal law is this incredible intersection of human frailty, complex legal issues, advocacy and litigation. And as a public defender, which is the area of criminal law that I eventually pursued, this is an incredible opportunity to hold the police and the powers that be to account,” she says. “During my first law degree, I only scratched the surface of issues that intersect with or underpin the criminal justice system as we know it: critical studies of race, gender and sexuality, and colonial heritage. For a long time, I wanted to explore these questions in more depth. That’s why I’m pursuing an LL.M. degree at Berkeley.
Citing Berkeley Law’s strong criminal justice program and reputation as a top public university, Bossard saw the school as the perfect place to continue his education.
“It’s time to get out there and gain a new perspective on the issues facing the United States and Australia: mass incarceration, police violence, entrenched systemic racism and a failing justice system,” she says. “My in-depth knowledge of the civil rights experience in the United States will help me develop legal and political strategies and arguments to better advocate for indigent clients. It will also provide valuable comparative perspective on common challenges faced by disadvantaged communities in the United States and Australia.