Christopher Stromberg '13 was searching for an overseas international internship where he was hoping to use the Russian language skills he had developed while living in Russia during his undergraduate years. With the help of the Center for International Legal Studies in Vienna he was able to spend his summer working in the International Commercial Arbitration and Litigation group of Egorov, Puginsky, Afanasiev and Partners (EPAP). At the firm, the largest in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) which is comprised of the former Soviet Republics, Stromberg was able to work on cases from all over the world for clients, including European companies doing business in Russia and Russian companies.
“One of our clients was the Russian Federation which had an arbitration issue regarding titanium mining in India,” he said of one of his experiences. While all of the legal work is conducted in English, Stromberg was able to help his group of fifteen lawyers with deposition and other document translations and research and writing. On the weekends, Stromberg was free to explore St. Petersburg. “It was great to go beyond being a tourist and live like a resident,” he said.
Stromberg decided early on that he wanted to concentrate on international law and is enrolled also in the School of International Affairs. “I looked at the core courses for the master's program—diplomacy, economics, policy—and realized these were things I am very interested in but that I would not normally take in law school,” Stromberg said. He added that though his J.D. is his primary focus, because Penn State offered both programs he decided to take advantage of the opportunity. "Why not add a master's degree to my resume with the legal market as it is at this time? I think it will be a good supplement,” Stromberg said.
Being a member of Penn State Law's Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot
team last year helped Stromberg gain experience in the type of law he practiced at EPAP. Other experiences which prepared him for his internship included working with Professor William Butler
as a research assistant, taking Transnational Law from Professor Larry Backer
, and being a member of the International Law Society. “Being a mentor to an LL.M. student is another great experience,” Stromberg said. “Being exposed to international practitioners gave me an idea of what it would be like to practice internationally.”
Another bit of advice Stromberg shared is becoming a student member of the American Bar Association (ABA). “I signed up for the Russia/Eurasia Committee
and it has really opened doors for me,” he said. “The ABA is working on the first Russian legal desk book for anyone who needs to work with the Russian Federation. I volunteered to help out and they were not about to turn down free labor. It puts me in touch with lawyers in the field I'm interested in—partners in some of the biggest firms in the world.”