Southwestern Law School and Justice Ministry Initiate Fellowship in Armenia

From l to r: Dickran Tevrizian, Bryant G. Garth; and Robert Philibosian

In first collaboration of its kind, an American-trained lawyer will participate in development of Armenia’s legal system

LOS ANGELES—Southwestern Law School has partnered with the Republic of Armenia’s Ministry of Justice to create an opportunity for an American-trained lawyer to spend a year working directly with the Ministry to cultivate Armenia’s legal system. The inaugural Southwestern Armenia Fellow will be selected for the fall of 2012.

“A stable legal system is key to Armenia’s continued growth and development, and having the cooperation of Southwestern Law School in our endeavor is truly inspired as well as inspirational,” said Grigor Hovhannissian, Consul General to the Republic of Armenia. “I hope that our Diaspora community will also be inspired and lend its generous support to the Southwestern Armenia Fellowship with Armenia’s Ministry of Justice.” The Armenian Bar Association is also supporting the Fellowship and has designated a representative, Armen Hovannisian, to work with Southwestern on this project.

The Southwestern Armenia Fellowship was created in response to a call by Hrayr Tovmasyan, Armenia’s Minister of Justice, who recently asked the Armenian legal community in the Diaspora to have American-trained legal professionals help in the development of Armenia’s legal system. Upon finalizing the agreement with Southwestern to establish the Fellowship, he said, “Armenia’s Ministry of Justice is delighted to have this unprecedented cooperation between the Ministry and Southwestern Law School for advancing the rule of law in Armenia.”

Southwestern embraces the opportunity to serve a developing country and its people who are important to many within the law school community. A large contingent of Southwestern alumni is of Armenian heritage, and the Armenian Law Students’ Association is one of the most active on campus. According to Dean Bryant Garth, “Not only is this a nice opportunity to contribute to the justice system in Armenia, but it is also an opportunity to develop a cadre of Southwestern graduates skilled and experienced in promoting the rule of law.”

A kick-off reception to announce the unique partnership was hosted in February by Gerard Kassabian (’01) and was a tremendous success in garnering immediate interest, enthusiasm and support for this new venture. The goal of the Armenia Fellowship Executive Committee is to raise $300,000 to sustain the Fellowship for at least five years. The committee is seeking substantial multi-year pledges to help secure the Fellowship’s launch next fall as well as its long-term success.

The Southwestern Armenia Fellow will serve in Yerevan, Armenia, and will work directly with the Ministry for a one-year, full-time position.

Among other areas, the Fellow’s work for 2012-13 will involve one or more of the following:

  • Revising the Civil Procedure Code, including in the areas of due process and adjudication time limits
  • Redrafting the Civil Code and drafting corresponding legislation in such areas as lease agreements and mortgages
  • Reforming the criminal justice system in the areas of sentencing, incarceration and reintegration
  • Reforming the penitentiary system in conformity with international human rights standards
  • Developing alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, including arbitration and mediation
  • Revising provisions of the Judicial Code to balance independence with accountability of the judiciary, as well as focusing on ethics and disciplinary procedure for judges

Serving on the Southwestern Armenia Fellowship Executive Committee are:

Hon. Dickran M. Tevrizian, Jr.
United States District Court,
Central District of California, Ret.
Honorary Chair, Armenia Fellowship Executive Committee

Hon. Socrates P. Manoukian (’77)
Superior Court of California
County of Santa Clara Advisor
Armenia Fellowship Selection Sub-Committee

Professor Anahid Gharakhanian
Southwestern Law School

Armen K. Hovannisian
Armenian Bar Association

Gerard V. Kassabian (’01)
Law Offices of Gerard V. Kassabian
Southwestern Alumni Association
Board of Directors

Hon. Robert H. Philibosian (’67)
Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP
Southwestern Board of Trustees

Vahe V. Yacoubian
Manatt, Phelps & Phillips

See an overview of the Southwestern Armenia Fellowship.

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