Coming from a third generation family of lawyers, Master of Laws in U.S. Law (LL.M.) graduate Rodrigo Sayeg ’19 has some pretty big shoes to fill.
Sayeg’s father, Dr. Ricardo Sayeg, one of Brazil’s top lawyers, talked to him about what it means to be a lawyer. “My father taught me that being a lawyer was not just a profession, it’s a mission,” says Sayeg. “It’s a life-long ride where you pledge yourself to serve others, to protect against the injustices that this world might bring.”
In 2013, Sayeg started studying law at Pontifícia Universidade Católica de São Paulo in his home country of Brazil.
As if law school was not hard enough, Sayeg served in the Brazilian Army during his first year in school as well as interning at a local law firm.
“My life revolved around these two very demanding occupations that I chose,” says Sayeg. “I was, from 4 a.m. to midnight, either serving or learning.”
That first year was tough, but according to Sayeg, it was a year that molded him into the person he is today. “The Army taught me how to focus and obtain the drive and the discipline necessary for me to get through law school and work. As for law school, it taught me how to approach every situation with an open mind.”
Sayeg felt that an LL.M. degree would offer him the perfect opportunity to improve and challenge himself, and he chose California Western because of the community it provided—and he has not been disappointed. “My experience in the LL.M. program has been incredible,” he says. “California Western offered me a great curriculum that was extremely rewarding.”
California Western’s faculty and staff played a big part in Sayeg’s successful completion of the LL.M. program, and he gives a special shout-out to Professors Black, Klein, Cooper, and Assistant Director of the LL.M. and M.C.L. Program Chinthana Konganda.
“I remember the many hours I spent talking to them, discussing topics ranging from the challenges of being a foreign national studying in the U.S., to the subject for my scholarly writing paper,” recalls Sayeg. “Without their help, I would have been a student that was still trying to adapt, and certainly would not have achieved the academic success that I did.”
During his time at California Western, Sayeg had the opportunity to work at New Media Rights (NMR) where he found a forward-thinking, supportive, and demanding environment. “At NMR, I learned the differences and similarities of legal practice here in the U.S. as compared to the legal profession in Brazil,” he says.
Earlier this year Sayeg’s academic achievements were recognized when he was presented with the Joel Zuckerman Memorial Award at the California Western Academic Success Reception. “This award is very special to me, not just because it recognizes my work, but also because it gives me confidence that I am on the right track to fulfill my quest to improve my country and protect its people.”
Among his other academic achievements, Sayeg has had an article published in the scientific journal of the 1st Sorbonne International Research Group Conference: Human Rights and Economic Systems in the Digital Era, in which he addresses the internet as a mechanism to propagate human rights.
Sayeg has two pieces of advice for aspiring LL.M. California Western law students. Always keep an open mind and don’t be afraid to ask for help. “Cal Western is amazing at providing a great environment with a community that is invested in your success, and this includes its faculty, staff, and other students,” he says.
Looking to the future, Sayeg intends to pursue his career as an attorney in Brazil and pass the Bar so that he can practice in the U.S. as well. He feels his LL.M. degree is a hugely important part of fulfilling his ambitions.
“I am extremely thankful that I was able to attend such a great program, and I highly recommend it to other potential LL.M. students,” he says.