Opportunities to connect, learn, and grow are indispensable in the legal profession. The Southwestern Institute for International and Comparative Law's (SWIICL) Academy of American and International Law serves as one such pivotal platform. This year, the 58th Academy, a high-impact, multi-week program, attracted a diverse group of 40 attendees from 24 countries. Recently, we had the pleasure of speaking with one of these participants, Edson Sy, a partner at SKY Law from the Philippines and a Vester Hughes scholarship recipient. The scholarship enabled Edson to partake in the Academy, and he was kind enough to share his insights with us.
Q: Hi, can you please introduce yourself to us?
“Hi, I'm Edson Sy and I'm a partner from Sky Law. I'm from the Philippines, and I attended the Academy this year in 2023.”
Q: What do you think was the biggest benefit of attending the Academy?
“It was a very good opportunity to meet a lot of foreign nationals because outside of pursuing an LLM, I don't think I would get an opportunity to meet or mingle with people from 26 different countries for a long duration of time [and] not just for a few days, like when I when you attend the conference. In this case, we were together for five weeks. I've had enough exposure with people from diverse cultures from different countries, so I think that's a good exposure for you.”
Q: How did your participation enhance or change your perspective as a lawyer?
“I learned a lot about [the] American legal system and international law. It gave me more of a background and understanding of how the legal system works as compared to how we do it here in the Philippines. I learned more after that experience after the Academy, so I have a better understanding of the legal system. For instance, the jury system and how it really works in practice. So, we were able to get a sample snippet of how it works.”
Q: If someone was considering attending the Academy, what would you tell them??
“Please do attend the Academy. It is really a wonderful, wonderful experience. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us to be able to mingle and to share our own culture, country, [and] legal system with a person or a group of people of different backgrounds. So, it's really a good experience.”
Q: What is the biggest takeaway you have from your time spent at the Academy??
“How the different cultures can mesh with each other, how you're able to interact with each other, that there are some varieties with each individual person from different countries, from different continents, right, so, for me, that's a really wonderful experience because you learn how to adjust yourself and you'll also see your classmates adjusting to you. So that's really a good experience.”
Closing Thoughts: Edson's experience at the Academy highlights the importance of global collaboration and understanding in the legal profession. The Academy provides legal professionals with exposure to a myriad of cultures and legal systems, fostering personal and professional growth. In our rapidly globalizing world, having the ability to understand, adapt, and collaborate across borders is genuinely invaluable. As Edson suggests, there's no substitute for experiences that expose lawyers to the intricate tapestry of global legal systems and cultures to promote the rule of law around the world.
Are you interested in experiencing the Academy firsthand or supporting someone else's opportunity to participate? Contact SWIICL director Jay Ray to learn about the upcoming 59th Academy of American and International Law in 2024, read a recap about the 58th Academy, or click here to donate.
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About the Southwestern Institute for International and Comparative Law - The Southwestern Institute for International and Comparative Law (SWIICL) was founded in Dallas, Texas, in 1963 as a division of The Center for American and International Law, an international nonprofit educational institution for lawyers, judges, and law enforcement professionals. Since 1963, SWIICL has offered annual programs focusing on international business transactions and private investments worldwide while developing professional relationships among distinguished lawyers, business leaders, and government officials worldwide. SWIICL's premier annual event is the Academy of American and International Law. This multi-week program has provided more than 3,300 participants from 130 countries the opportunity to study American law and processes in the United States.