Thomas Segal
France
LL.M. in General Studies, 2009

There was a young man, with a sack full of dreams, who left his country and traveled across
the Atlantic to finish his studies in the U.S. He arrived with stars in his eyes, totally amazed by
what he discovered. From the small and illuminated city he was used to, he arrived in the
hyper town, where everything is not simply big, but even bigger, where distance is measured
in blocks rather than in minutes, and where shade in the street is created not by trees but by
buildings so tall that they can scrape the sky. A town that is constantly busy, constantly noisy,
constantly moving. Actually, it is the heart of the world that we can feel beating here.
New country, new town, new language, new habits to learn, but best of all, new school.

We can read on Cardozo’s website that “It’s a small miracle in the history of American law
schools.” This may be difficult to comprehend at first, but as time went by he realized how
easily it came to be true. Located in the middle of this urban jungle, there is a building
welcoming a community of hundreds of motivated students, here to build their future. But our
young man was to be part of a smaller community: the LLM community. August 16, that’s
when the story really began. On that day, some 50 students gathered in the lobby of the school
for orientation week. What was most striking for him was the diversity that stemmed from
this group. There were men and women, from all over the world; some had freshly graduated
in their home countries, some were already very experienced lawyers, some were even
professors. But all had this one thing in common: they were all back on the bench of school.
Our young man was very impressed by the talent and the experience of his new fellows. But
at the very first moment of entering in the classroom, he knew selecting Cardozo had been the
right choice: the choice to make a difference. The choice to be part of an alum that can say
years from now, when Cardozo will be among one of the top-ten law schools in America, “I
was a part of it”.

Cardozo has indeed a wonderful community, and it is even truer for the LL.M. community.
Being the small tight nit group that it is, it developed not as a community, but rather like a
year-long vacation camp, to reach such a point that it today looks like a big family. Active in
exploring the city and tasting the nightlife, the greatest achievement being the visits to
“worldwide” culinary exploration making full use of the diversity among the students and the
wide range of possibilities in New York, visiting the tastes of the countries all by the
wonderful invention of the subway.

But it wasn’t all fun and games this year. The ordeals our young man had to face included the
difficulty of adaptation to the American way of teaching, also known as the famous “Socratic
method.” To sum it up, you have to read between 20 and 100 pages of exciting and riveting
case law per class and be ready to answer any question the professor may decide to ask you. If
you thought that you could quietly seat at the back of class, daydreaming out the window, you
were wrong!

He also learned the weird and wonderful concept of… networking. It generally starts with a
session in which you are taught how to talk to a lawyer, how to show interest without showing
you’re interested, how to send emails without harassing your recipient, and basically how to
cope with the stressful situation of being ignored or unanswered. And then, like gladiators you
are released into the arena, entering a room, full of sharks-oh I mean people very well-dressed
talking themselves into that vacant associate position or the unpaid internship sought after by
every other hungry shark-I mean student in the room, all racing to win the “business cards
race”!

And whereas he thought he would never be confronted to numbers ever again, he learnt the
virtues of accounting! Here is an excerpt of what we could call the “balance sheet” of his
year: 817 hours spent on Facebook, 5843 pages read for classes, 39 slices of kosher pizza
eaten, 1256 emails received from Laura Meyer and Jamie Carnes, etc…

There was a young man, with a sack full of dreams, who left his country and traveled across
the Atlantic to finish his studies in the U.S. He arrived with stars in his eyes, totally amazed by
what he discovered here. At the end of the year, our young man still has stars in his eyes every
morning when he wakes up, and feels so grateful because he met so many great people, and
he had the time of his life. This young man is me, this was my story, and I thank you.