By Gwyneth K. Shaw
Five new members of Berkeley Law’s Doctor of Juridical Science (J.S.D.) program have received a new fellowship, thanks to a grant from the school’s Robbins Collection and Research Center.
Zehra Betul Ayranci, Jiahui Duan, Nicolas Lezaca, Aishwarya Saxena, and Anil Yilmaz are first-year students in the J.S.D. program, which offers Berkeley Law’s most advanced law degree. Their funding amounts vary from partial to full tuition waivers.
The new fellowship is a “game-changer” for the program, says Susan Whitman, the school’s assistant dean for academic planning and coordination.
“We are so grateful to the Robbins Collection for generously funding the education of our entering J.S.D. students,” she says. “With this funding, we anticipate being able to compete with other highly-ranked law schools in attracting top J.S.D. students.”
Professor Laurent Mayali, faculty director of the Robbins Collection, says the idea for the fellowship grew from concerns that Berkeley Law was losing potential J.S.D. students to other schools because of funding. A partnership makes sense, he says, because of the collection’s mission.
The Robbins Collection holds over 340,000 titles, including works on civil law, religious law, comparative law, jurisprudence, and legal history, with a special emphasis on continental Europe.
“Lloyd Robbins’ original idea in establishing the collection was to create a place where scholars could solve the legal problems of today,” Mayali says. “I thought it would be a good thing to use some of this money to foster research and education for our J.S.D. students who are working on comparisons between American common law and the civil law system internationally.”
Original research on a civil or religious law topic will be a part of the fellowship. Ideally, Mayali adds, the fellows will organize a workshop to showcase outside research, too.
The three-year J.S.D. program centers around independent research and writing. Students complete a publication-worthy dissertation and are prepared for jobs in teaching and legal scholarship around the world. The deadline to apply for the 2020-2023 class is February 1.
Berkeley Law’s J.S.D. program has produced a noteworthy group of alumni, including Wissanu Krea-ngam ‘76, the deputy prime minister of Thailand; Todung Mulya Lubis, ‘90 an activist who is now Indonesia’s ambassador to Norway; Junfeng Wang ‘07, founding partner and global chairman of King & Wood Mallesons; Sung-Mei Hsiung ‘08, a high court judge on the Taiwan Intellectual Property Court; and Simona Grossi ‘11, a professor at Loyola Law School.
Yilmaz, a first-year J.S.D. student from Turkey who received an L.L.M. degree in 2018, says, “Being a Robbins Fellow is more than an honor, especially at these times when comparative legal studies are of vital importance.”
The J.S.D. program plays a big role in Berkeley Law’s sterling international reputation, Mayali says. He hopes the new fellowship will further enhance both the collection and the academic program.
“These students will work and solve the legal issues of today in the spirit of Lloyd Robbins,” he says. “Their work will enhance the legacy of Lloyd Robbins’ vision and the law school’s commitment to excellence.”