Russian attorney sees value in LL.M.

Olga Larionova is always up for a challenge.

Dreaming of rising to the top, she won the All-Russian Olympiad in Law and earned a full scholarship. She then attended perhaps the most prestigious university in Russia, Moscow State Institute of International Relations. 

A high GPA wasn’t enough for the International Law major. So she pushed herself to stand out from the crowd through many internships, including one at PricewaterhouseCoopers, where she prepared license agreements.

Since LL.M.s are highly valued in Russia, and because of the increasing demand for international lawyers, she decided to pursue graduate school in the United States 

“Another thing, of course, is the challenge of applying to and studying in a foreign country. I like challenges,” Larionova said.

Her next one was adjusting to life at Pennsylvania State University, Penn State Law, where she received a full scholarship.

“It's been a bit difficult at the beginning to live in a college town because there's not much to do and to go except for the school,” said Larionova, a professional ballroom dancer. “I like the nature in Pennsylvania: a lot of trees and lovely mountains. It is funny but now, after nine months, I cannot imagine my live in a big city again.”

But, law school certainly keeps her busy. She has found that it’s important to do ample self-preparation for class discussions — and to be ready for group work.

“I think that ability to work in a team and effectively interact with your colleagues is a crucial skill for a successful lawyer,” she said. “At first, it was hard for me to collegially make a decisions and make concessions. It took time to get used to cooperate with my colleagues. I witnessed that with the proper allocation of responsibilities among its members, a team will achieve far more than each member on his own.”

She also is working with a professor on restatements of arbitration for the American Law Institute.

“This experience is of great value because I not only improve my knowledge of international arbitration, but also practice my legal research skills,” Larionova said.

She plans to work for a year at a U.S. law firm through the OPT program.

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