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Chicago-Kent's idea: New law firm in the former Yugoslavia
By Jerry Crimmins, Law Bulletin staff writer

It isn't often that a law school starts a private law firm, but Chicago-Kent College of Law may do just that - in Kosovo, in the former Yugoslavia.

Kosovo was wracked by war and forced migration of hundreds of thousands of people in the 1990s and is now under United Nations control.

Undergraduates from the Illinois Institute of Technology and students from the university's law school, Chicago-Kent College of Law, have for several years worked together in Operation Kosovo, which promotes the rule of law, democracy, civil society and economic development in Kosovo.

This week, law Professor Henry H. Perritt Jr. traveled to Kosovo with four students, three of them from Chicago-Kent and one an undergraduate in political science at IIT.

Perritt's team will explore starting a law firm to provide opportunities for graduates and students of the law school at Kosovo's Pristina University and also attract foreign investment.

The firm would start with one American attorney and one Kosovar attorney and later expand to include more Kosovar lawyers, according to law student Tonya Newman, a spokesperson for the group that went to Kosovo.

"The hope is [that the involvement of a U.S. lawyer] will facilitate investment from Americans and from international businesses," she said.

"Also, there aren't a lot of offices where graduating [Kosovar] law students can go. There aren't a lot of firms there.

"Although there are attorneys in Kosovo," she said, "many older attorneys are unfamiliar with [UN] regulations, while younger attorneys have difficulty finding jobs…. The firm will fill a need for representation of Kosovars to international bodies such as the United Nations."

The idea of starting a law firm came from the political science major on the trip, Tim Grochochinski. The other traveling students are Nicole Thibodeau, Carson Block and Jill Wechtler. Newman hopes to go another time.

The students will also meet with representatives of the Kosovo Law Centre, which is publishing a new compendium of Kosovar laws, and with representatives of Kosovo's Criminal Defense Resource Centre.

As a sign of the new complexities in ancient Kosovo, both of those operations are new NGO's, or non-governmental organizations, established by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's Mission in Kosovo Rule of Law Division.

The planned law firm will initially focus on transactional work.

(Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, July 11, 2003, p. 3)

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