I have been a United States lawyer since my graduation from Harvard Law School in 1983 and my admission to the New York bar in 1985, so for almost 35 years now. I spent five years as a federal prosecutor in New York from 1987 to 1991 before returning to private practice. I became a member of the California bar in 1991 after moving to San Francisco, and have been a partner of the law firm of Munger, Tolles & Olson since 1995 (almost 25 years).
I have always had a passion for other cultures and languages. In high school, I studied Spanish and Italian, and in college I studied German and Russian. As a young student, I spent a summer studying Spanish in Madrid in 1973 (and remember seeing motorcades for General Franco pass by in the streets) and then spent a summer in Clermont-Ferrand, France, studying French and living with a wonderful family with whom I have remained in close contact. In college, I spent a summer doing thesis research at the Istituto Gramsci in Rome regarding the Italian Communist Party during what turned out be a tumultuous time — the killing of Aldo Moro by the Brigate Rosse and the death of two Popes in short succession.
My interest in foreign culture and language has informed my legal career. I have always been fascinated by cross-border legal issues. In 2008, I took a sabbatical from my firm and obtained a French-language masters degree in French and European business law at Paris II (Assas). Since returning to the United States, much of my law practice has focused on transnational legal issues in Europe, Asia and South America. The opportunity to combine my passion for other cultures with my law practice has been an unending source of personal and professional satisfaction.
In 2000, I became a member of UIA (Union Internationale des Avocats or International Association of Lawyers), the world’s oldest, most multi-cultural international law organization. Over the next two decades I worked in various positions in the organization. It is my great honor to now become President of UIA and to dedicate my next year to UIA’s mission — international exchange of information and ideas among the world’s lawyers and protection of the independence of the legal profession as well as of legal defenders of human rights around the globe.