After his graduation from Lebanese University Beirut, Rony Yaacoub won a Fulbright Scholarship to do an LL.M. at Vanderbilt University. Here, he discusses his LL.M. experience and how he thinks the LL.M. will help his career now, and once he returns to Lebanon.
What is your background, and why did you choose Vanderbilt for your LL.M.?
I studied law in Lebanon at the Lebanese University, which was a four-year program. Throughout university, I worked as a legal trainee at a law firm. After that I received the Fulbright Scholarship from the US Department of State.
Basically, I chose Vanderbilt because – of course – it is a top-ranking school, and because of the strength of its corporate law faculty. It has a really great transactional law faculty. Another factor was that I knew that the program has people from all around the world. It is an amazing school!
What was your favorite class and why?
My favorite class was "Mergers & Acquisitions" with Randall Thomas because that's where my heart is. I love mergers and acquisitions, and I love the US approach to it.
For instance hostile take-overs - that is really exciting! It is like a tactical game between the two companies. It really engages your interest in thinking about what the next step is, how to work on it, and whether it is legal or not, looking at the opinions of the courts. It really helps not only with learning the law, but getting a practical approach on how to plan defenses or hostile take-overs.
What do you think the LL.M. has added to your profile?
It has added a lot, especially for me, because I am returning to Lebanon to practice there. Usually, work there is in French and Arabic. Only a few people can work on international transactions, and basically these are done in English. So it has added the opportunity to work in English on transactional stuff. It gave me a bank of knowledge on US law and how transaction work is done in the US, such as the law for transactions, securities, and corporations. I can always work in the corporate field on multinational corporations in Lebanon and overseas.
What are your plans now that you've finished the LL.M.?
Before I finished my LL.M., the career office told us that a law firm in Florida wanted an international law clerk for a few months, which is actually an international traineeship. They take one student per year, so they ask that if you are interested, just send in your CV. I was really interested complimenting my education in the US with some practical experience. I thought that would be great. So I applied, and here I am!
Afterwards, I plan to go back to Lebanon just to see my family for a bit. I plan to work in Dubai for a few years, just to save enough money to return to Lebanon and open my law firm. I want to get some good experience with the big American and British law firms that have the best practices in that area, and then to go back to Lebanon to found my own law firm. International transactional and corporate law – that's gonna be my practice.
What was the most challenging thing about living in Nashville?
Country music! It is a different culture, and you may get a cultural shock, but a month or so after the program starts, you will be happy meeting all the people and getting integrated into the culture. Along with getting a great education, you can meet people from different cultures, what greatly broadens your horizon.