Student Describes Her Experiences in the Cayman Islands Winter Break Program

By Stetson Law Student Valeria Obi

This past winter break I enhanced my legal education by participating in the Stetson University College of Law Cayman Islands Winter Break Program. I was one of 40 students from law schools across the country.

This two-week program allowed me to get a better understanding of international law while experiencing the culture of the island at the same time.

I had the choice of four courses: Offshore Financial Tax Havens and Financial Centers, Introduction to Commonwealth Caribbean Constitutional Law, International Trade and Commerce: Drafting International Contracts and Legal Documents, and Recourse to International Law by the Privy Council in Caribbean Death Penalty Cases. These courses were offered at the Cayman Islands Law School in George Town.

My professors included Dean Janet Levit from the University of Tulsa; John Knechtle, Professor and Director of the International Programs at Florida Coastal School of Law; and Judge Patrick Lipton Robinson from Jamaica.

One of the courses I selected was International Trade and Commerce, taught by Dean Levit. I thoroughly enjoyed this course because of the various transactional skills I learned, including contract drafting, negotiating, strategizing, and public speaking. A substantial portion of the class included negotiation exercises that helped me learn the intricacies of international trade agreements. This course also taught me how to efficiently collaborate with my classmates to bridge the gap between varying viewpoints.

With each assignment, I was given the opportunity to play the role of the general counsel for an international corporation. In this fictional position, I worked with my classmates to determine which terms of an agreement would be most beneficial to my side. This course illustrated the various perspectives of private corporations as they engage in international trade agreements and negotiations.

The second course I selected was Recourse to International Law taught by Professors Knechtle and Robinson. This course provided my classmates and me with an opportunity to engage in discussion with one another in an intimate setting. Through this class, I was able to voice my opinion on various hot-button topics in the Caribbean, including the death penalty. I also learned how the legal systems are organized in several Caribbean countries.

Stetson Professor Janice McClendon served as Stetson's resident program advisor in the Caymans. She organized activities for students including one of the island's main attractions, Stingray City.

Although not an actual city, stingrays historically gather around the shallow waters of a sandbar to receive food from fishermen. The island eventually turned into a major attraction for tourists. This attraction allowed me to snorkel and swim with about two-dozen stingrays ranging from three to four feet in length.

Other leisure activities I thoroughly enjoyed were shopping in George Town and visiting Pedro St. James, which is a national historic site in the Caymans.

We also took a field trip to the international law firm of Maples and Calder, one of the leading firms on the island. I was able to get valuable information on the firm's areas of practice, which include commercial litigation, corporate law, and investment funds (all areas that interest me).

Through this program, I got to experience a culture that was once unfamiliar to me. I enjoyed interacting with the other students, professors, and residents of the Island. I feel as though the trip gave me better insight into international law. I would definitely recommend this trip to any student who is considering participating.

For more information on this program or any other study abroad opportunities, contact the Office of International Programs at [email protected].