Jean-Luc Fournier admits it’s probably the only race he can win against his son. “Marc wanted to come here first, but I beat him to it,” says Jean-Luc, 62, soon to begin his second summer in the professional track program.
True, Marc Fournier did not become an LL.M. student (academic-year program) until August. Like any good attorney, however, he has a quick rebuttal: “My dad started first, but I’ll graduate first.” Either way, it’s the first parent-child tandem enrolled simultaneously at Berkeley Law.
The French family has a history of professional collaboration. Jean-Luc, Marc, and Françoise (wife and mother) all studied finance at ESSEC Business School in Paris. Jean-Luc later launched a financial services firm, which Françoise later joined.
In France, judges appoint an independent expert to scrutinize a dispute’s financial aspects and provide a report. Jean-Luc is often tapped to perform that role and analyze the financial angles of U.S. companies seeking to acquire French ones—a big reason he came to Berkeley.
“In France it’s just, ‘What’s the rule of law?’” Jean-Luc says. “In the U.S., you also have to look at the cases that apply in each state or federal jurisdiction. It’s very complicated.”
Engaged professors and fellow students, however, helped him gain confidence. That collegiality also spoke to Marc, who had spent a month in the Bay Area with a host family at age 16.
“In France, university is very impersonal with little faculty interaction or student socializing,” says Marc, who has enjoyed the law school’s courses, business center programming, and opportunities to assist startups. “I like Berkeley much better.”