Jesse Stricklan, a recent graduate of the University of Michigan Law School will work as an assistant lecturer for the JET Initiative Program during the 2016-2017 academic year.

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I am a recent graduate of the University of Michigan Law School and will work with the JET Program’s visiting professionals as an assistant lecturer. I am honored that the Leavitt Institute selected me to join the JET Program.

Before joining the JET Program, I worked in a variety of legal jobs in civil society. In addition to official government institutions like courts, civil society is the network of organizations and communities that help support the administration of justice in a state’s legal system. I have worked to protect the rights of children in foster care, to represent credible claims of innocence from people who were wrongfully convicted, to support victims of human trafficking, and to help refugees obtain legal asylum in the United States. Along the way, I have had the opportunity to see how lawyers dedicated to the public good can make an enormous difference, either as a part of civil society, as a government lawyer, or as a judge.

As lawyers, I believe we have a special opportunity and responsibility to shape the legal system in which we work. The study of comparative law is extremely valuable in that process. Comparative legal studies allow us to evaluate different ways of doing justice and to better understand our native legal system by comparison. In some ways, studying another legal system is like learning a new language: in mastering the principles of another language, you learn a great deal about your mother tongue while also drawing inspiration for new and better ways of communicating.

Likewise, I believe the JET Program will allow both lecturers and participants to draw inspiration from the exchange of ideas about the administration of law. Through Socratic method lectures and discussions with respected legal professionals, JET Program participants have an amazing opportunity to get to know the law up close and personal. In particular, we will share insights about some of the primary features of U.S. legal practice, including a robust adversarial system, procedural rules that attempt to create a level playing field, and a broad commitment to the health of the legal system from lawyers and judges. I look forward to learning from you as we compare the U.S. and Moldovan legal systems.

My family and I have only been in Chisinau for a few weeks, but we already feel at home. We love Chisinau’s lovely and abundant trees, parks, and playgrounds. Our favorite park so far is the Dendrarium – I love it because of the rose gardens, and my four-year-old loves it because we once got cotton candy there. To each their own. We also love the food here and have enjoyed trying out traditional Moldovan dishes. We are trying to learn how to make our own mamaliga and placinte, so if you have a good recipe, let me know. Everyone has been friendly and patient with our broken Romanian or Russian, which tells me great things about the character of the people that live here. We look forward to spending a year in this wonderful city.