Czech/Slovak Legal Institute

Seminar for New Czech/Slovak Lawyers


Each year since 2001, The John Marshall Law School Czech/Slovak Legal Institute has conducted a program for new Czech and Slovak lawyers in cooperation with the Czech and Slovak Bar Associations. The program is funded in memory of two JMLS alumni, John Drost and Robert Beart. The program aims at developing a better understanding of the American legal and entrepreneurial system.

Law professors and practicing lawyers from the United States teach a week long seminar to approximately twenty new attorneys in American law, professional ethics, and alternative dispute resolution. During the mornings, participants discuss different aspects of American law and the American legal profession. During the afternoons, participants work on mock exercises involving client interviewing, negotiating an international contract, and negotiating a dispute. Participants meet again in the evening to enjoy dinner and to discuss informally matters that arose during the day or to view an American movie that focuses on a legal issue. All of the sessions are conducted in English.

Czech and Slovak participants are selected by their respective bar associations to attend the program through a competitive process. The American attorneys who have participated in the program have been very impressed with the dedication and legal knowledge of the new Czech and Slovak attorneys and with their fluency in English.

The Czech and Slovak attorneys attend the sessions during the entire week and often stay after the sessions were ended to discuss new matters. The American, Czech and Slovak attorneys find it interesting to compare how matters are handled under the common law and the continental legal systems. The new attorneys especially enjoyed the animated discussions that took place in the classrooms and participating in the simulated negotiations. The sessions have traditionally been held in Luhacovice, a spa town on the Czech Slovak border. However, in 2012, the program was held at the facilities of Masaryk University in the UNESCO preserved town of Telč in South Bohemia.

Each year the instructors and the participants get together for a reunion in either Prague or Bratislava.  In May 2009, instructors and alumni of the program met for a week in the High Tatras in Slovakia for a reunion and advanced program on mediation and American legal developments. In June 2012, alumni from the program traveled to Chicago where the discussed new legal developments and visited courts and public offices.

Regular Instructors

Michael P. Seng John Marshall Law School Professor
Susan Connor John Marshall Law School Professor
Michael Fieweger Baker & McKenzie, LLP
John Smietanka Former U.S. Attorney for Western Dist. Michigan
Partner, Smietanka, Buckleitner, Steffes & Gezon
Sheila Murphy Former Illinois Circuit Court Judge
Patrick Racey Former Illinois lobbyist

Past Instructors

Michael Avramovich Avramovich & Associates PC
Marilyn Marton USAID, Office of Small and Disadv. Bus. Utilization (Retired)
Samuel Lawton John Marshall Law School Adjunct Professor (Deceased)

Czech & Slovak Participants