Indiana University’s Maurer School of Law, the IU Robert H. McKinney School of Law at IUPUI, the IU Alumni Association, and the IU Europe Gateway hosted the first IU Law Alumni Conference for former Hoosiers who live and work in Europe. The event brought together more than seventy law and business professionals with the goal of fostering the university’s existing networks and forging new ties with overseas alumni.
The keynote speaker was Professor Dr. Bostjan Zupancic, a distinguished scholar, renowned author, former Judge and President of the Third Chamber at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), and former Vice-Chair of the U.N. Committee Against Torture. His remarks centered around his recent publication, On the European Court of Human Rights: An Insider’s Retrospective (1998–2016). He shared his views on the structure, function, and credibility of the ECHR in Strasbourg including its successes, defeats, interrelations.
At the core of the event were its interactive breakout panels with faculty experts from both law schools as well as IU McKinney Dean Karen E. Bravo and IU Maurer Dean Austen Parrish. These smaller sessions allowed alumni to connect with each other, exchange experiences and resources, and discuss some of the pressing issues for European legal professionals.
“It was great to connect with our law alumni from both campuses for this event,” said Hannah Buxbaum, Indiana University Vice President for International Affairs. “Though COVID has interrupted our ability to gather in person, I have been encouraged by our alumni’s continuing desire to stay engaged with the university and with each other. Even as the world gradually returns to travel, online outreach will continue to be a powerful way to connect individuals and catalyze community within IU’s global network.”
Vice President Buxbaum teamed up with her colleague Lukasz Lasek of Poland, exchange student at IU Maurer in 2012 who also served on the steering committee, to lead a breakout session addressing the emerging challenges of cross-border taking of evidence in a digital age.
“The idea of the IU Law European alumni meeting has been seeded before the pandemic and aimed at bringing like-minded people together,” said Lukasz Lasek. “Although the pandemic pushed us [to do so in a virtual space], the objective of creating a community has been achieved. The great thing about the meeting is that it created opportunities to get to know new people from outside of “our year’s bubbles,” yet with the same “IU experience” and interesting life stories. A big turnout demonstrates that there is a need to stay in touch with our foreign alma mater and participate in its life. I truly look forward to our future meetings and discussions.”
Achim Förster, LL.M. ’06 (IU McKinney), of Germany was one of the six IU law alumni who spearheaded the effort. “When I was asked to be on the steering committee, I was immediately excited,” Förster said. “IU has a strong alumni network in Europe, and the IU Gateway in Berlin is a great hub for activities. The conference was a fantastic experience and a wonderful opportunity to interact with alumni from both schools and to share ideas for future collaboration. I am proud to be part of IU's worldwide network of lawyers and am very much looking forward to future events.”
Förster joined colleagues from Indianapolis and France to lead a breakout session diving into the history and current status of the US-European Dialogue of Legal Systems, ultimately leading to a discussion of how IU alumni can shape the future and drive the dialogue between the United States, European Union, and beyond.
The group plans to reconvene on a regular basis to continue utilizing university experts, pooling resources, strengthening networks, and growing global connections.