Law Student Perspectives: From Paris to New York City

Alexandre Leturgez-Coianiz phot

By Alexandre Leturgez-Coianiz, LL.M. Candidate at Fordham School of Law

As a new foreign student at Fordham Law School, I came face-to-face with a new language, new culture, new lifestyle, and new customs. Walking through the crowds in Columbus Circle during the last warm day of September, I couldn’t help but think just two weeks ago, I had been at home in Paris. I spent my last ten days with my family and my friends, telling them how much I loved them, and explaining my sudden decision to leave my home for New York. Because I already started to work in Paris, the decision to become a student again, as a young professional, was not easy, not to mention becoming a student 3,700 miles away.

Some might ask why I decided to become a law student in the United States. This is what I tell them: In late October 2014, I met a New Yorker in Paris, a graduate student from Fordham Law School. I was enthralled by my American friend waiting for the results of the New York Bar exam. Around the same time, I received my first passport. Because I believe that nothing happens by chance, I viewed this as a sign to visit New York City. I took my first trip to New York that winter. During this time, I had the chance to attend a taxation class at New York University School of Law. That was an amazing experience. In a week, I met many great people, friends, and lovely New Yorkers. Without shame, I cried when it came time to leave. Back in Paris, I felt a deep boredom doing my job, and I knew that I had to change my life. Would you believe me if I told you that my Parisian life was too comfortable? I quit my job, having decided to change my daily existence.

I challenged myself on several points: First, I was a terrible English speaker and writer and needed a TOEFL score of 100 out of 120. Second, an LL.M. application is usually set a year in advance, but I had only four months. Third, I had to prepare a whole array of documents for financial support.

I quit my job the last day of April and began the LL.M. application process soon after. At the beginning of July 2015, I received my acceptance letter from Fordham Law School. The LL.M. program would not start until the spring semester the following year, allowing me to take classes at the Institute of American Language and Culture in the fall.

Before giving Fordham my answer, I realized I had the choice to change my life by simply saying yes, which I did. Then, I had to figure out how to cover tuition and living expenses. In the United States, tuition is more than 100 times the cost of law school in France. With only a short period of time and just my good faith and my enthusiasm for this LL.M. project, I succeeded in obtaining the required amount of money. I can’t remember how many doubts troubled me during this period. It is so easy to stay in a place where you are well-settled rather than venturing to the unknown. I remembered that ten years ago, when I was 19 years old, I moved from the countryside to Paris to be enrolled as a student at the University of Paris 1 Pantheon-Sorbonne, arriving with little more than a small backpack on my shoulders. Life is made of choices and changes that are not easy to make. But deciding to make it, to push yourself out of your comfort zone, is something you will never regret.