Ukrainian lawyers find a home away from home


The Master of Laws degree offers an invaluable opportunity for foreign-trained lawyers to gain a deeper understanding of the U.S. legal system through a one-year program of study.

Oleksandra “Sasha” Iordanova, Olha “Olia” Kaliuzhna and Vladyslav “Vlad” Rudzinskyi – all from the country of Ukraine – found a home away from home in Athens as members of the 2022-23 LL.M. class.

Dean Bo Rutledge with students

Dean Bo Rutledge (left) coaches Sasha Iordanova (left center), Olia Kaliuzhna and Vlad Rudzinskyi (right) for the LL.M. International Commercial & Investment Arbitration Moot Competition.

“The Americans’ kindness and hospitality struck me as the most notable feature of this nation,” Rudzinskyi said, specifically pointing out the willingness of Americans to invite international students to their homes for holidays.

Kaliuzhna added, “It is hard to be a foreigner, you do not know how things work … I am grateful that I met people who were there every step of the way to help me figure things out.”

All three students were grateful for the warm welcome from the Athens community, as they agreed there is an aspect of loneliness to overcome when moving to a new country.

Iordanova noted that making American friends and connecting with professors helped her with adjusting to her new environment. “The LL.M. is definitely an international experience, during which you don’t just study the law,” she said. “You learn a lot about the cultures, traditions, customs and legal systems of your colleagues.”

In addition to attending classes, the three students became a team and put their skills to the test at the LL.M. International Commercial & Investment Arbitration Moot Competition in March.

They said they were thankful for their time spent preparing with their coach Dean Peter B. “Bo” Rutledge. The trio reached the semifinals, and Kaliuzhna was named best oralist of the tournament.

As for their plans after completing their LL.M. degrees, Kaliuzhna intends to transfer to the J.D. program to stay at UGA for two more years before practicing international arbitration law.

Iordanova is planning to work in the field of international commercial and investment arbitration. “It is my dream to work in a big law firm, handling complex international investment and commercial disputes, involving parties from different jurisdictions,” she said.

Rudzinskyi is also planning to transfer to the J.D. program after spending his summer working in the school’s Appellate Litigation Clinic. He looks forward to utilizing his new global connections. He said he has “met a lot of different people with different views” who will help him in his future legal career.

— Jordan Ross   


Pictured above are Olia Kaliuzhna (left), Vlad Rudzinskyi and Sasha Iordanova at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida, over Winter Break.