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Stetson Law study abroad program in England marks successful 5th year

Stetson University College of Law students traveled to Oxford, England, for the Comparative Advocacy Program study abroad program.

Stetson University College of Law wrapped up its fifth Comparative Advocacy Program in Oxford, England, from July 22 through Aug. 2, 2019. This year’s study abroad trip was a hit with students and faculty alike for its mix of demanding legal training with Oxford’s intellectual and fascinating history.

The program is an intensive experience where students are exposed to the fundamental tenets of rhetoric, psychology and storytelling while learning about a new culture. Local techniques and practices form an integral part of the course, and guest speakers from England, Scotland, and Ireland help expand students’ understanding of the differences and similarities between our legal system and Great Britain’s.

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Michèle Alexandre

Stetson Professor Stephanie Vaughan is the Resident Director for the program, and new Stetson College of Law Dean Michèle Alexandre joined the group this year. Other faculty leaders included:

  • Lou Fasulo, Director of Advocacy at Pace University College of Law;
  • Rafe Foreman, former professor at University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law; and
  • Gillian Moore, former Assistant Attorney General in Scotland.

Together, the leaders provided students with hands-on training on all aspects of U.S. trial advocacy, as well as an introduction to procedural differences in Scotland and England.  The students were inspired by lectures and discussions that highlighted the value of litigation in protecting the foundations of our legal systems, effectuating social change, and giving a voice to the voiceless.

“The Oxford program was designed to provide a unique international immersion learning experience,” said Professor Lou Fasulo, director of the program. “It creates a rich learning environment to teach advocacy skills and comparative international litigation. The program empowers students by teaching them the power of courtroom advocacy, the responsibilities of representing clients, and the love for global awareness.”

Cultural immersion is key

The students went on a cultural city tour, watched a criminal trial, and participated in a question and answer session with English judges.  They also traveled to Cambridge, where they learned the history and legal significance of the town. For fun, the students enjoyed a punting tour – a Cambridge and Oxford staple form of transportation via a narrow, flat-bottomed boat akin to a Venetian gondola – and visited local music spots and Shakespeare in the park. 

For a number of participants, the Oxford trip was their first time traveling to Europe. That was true for Tina Budzisz, a student in Stetson’s part-time program, but she said support from staff and faculty helped calm her nerves about it. Afterward, she declared the study abroad a “must do.”

“As a part time student with a full-time job and other responsibilities, it can be difficult to gain the required experiential credits needed for graduation,” she said. “It can also be intimidating when first looking at the budget for this trip.  With all that being said, if I had one piece of advice to give a law student, especially a part-time law student like myself, it would be to take this course! This a ‘don’t miss’ moment in your life, education and career. You will make friends you otherwise would not; be taught by some of the best litigators in the world; realize skills that you did not know you had; and if you are lucky, you will be invited to punt with the uncrowned Queen of Scotland.”

“This a ‘don’t miss’ moment in your life, education and career. You will make friends you otherwise would not; be taught by some of the best litigators in the world; realize skills that you did not know you had; and if you are lucky, you will be invited to punt with the uncrowned Queen of Scotland.”

Tina Budzisz

Frank Cusumano, a second-year student in the full-time program, said spending nearly two weeks in Oxford allowed him to connect with locals, which he found rewarding. Popular sites and the city’s rich history were enticing, too.

“I enjoyed going to the famous local spots, including CS Lewis’ office and the pub that the Inklings hung out in,” he said. “We went on a walking tour of Oxford, and I was amazed to know that the school is old enough that the reason that walls were built around the colleges was that highway robbers were running amuck in the streets at night.”

Oxford University is the oldest university in the English-speaking world, with teaching existing in some form since 1096. The city of Oxford, located in central England, has been home to royalty and scholars for more than 800 years.

-Ashley McKnight-Taylor

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