Former Court of Justice Clerk Gains New Perspective with MLaw LLM
By Jenny Whalen
April 24, 2013
Angel Pachev believes some things should be left to fate. But he readily admits that having "the right competence at the right time" can give fate a helping hand.
It was this philosophy that led the 29-year-old Bulgarian to leave a respected clerkship at the Court of Justice of the European Union to enhance his education by pursuing an LLM at Michigan Law.
His journey to Michigan Law began with his initial study of EU law in 2001 at the University of Burgundy. With talk of Bulgaria’s accession to the EU growing, Pachev said he knew “the best basis for having EU-law exposure was to go to a member state and study.” He would later attend Queen’s University Belfast, University Jean Moulin Lyon III, and the University of Luxembourg.
Taking each educational opportunity as it arose, a 23-year-old Pachev ultimately obtained a clerkship at the Court of Justice.
"I had a very exciting and secure job," Pachev admits, calling the decision to continue his legal studies outside Europe "a bold step for the sake of making career progress."
Relying on the recommendation of colleagues and leading scholars, Pachev applied to Michigan Law and arrived at Hutchins Hall with high expectations for the "US way of teaching law" specifically the Socratic method.
"Looking at the rationale behind the rule, I wanted to experience that," Pachev said, adding that his experience at Michigan has been "mind-opening," offering a "completely different perspective of looking at the law and another way to look at considerations behind court decisions."
His courses have also given him the opportunity to study the parallels between EU and U.S. legal systems, making every class invaluable.
"I love all my subjects and professors because of how brilliant they are," he said. "Their knowledge and depth of research, and also their pedagogical skills, are all excellent."
Just as he hopes he has contributed to the learning process with his own approach to the law, developed at the Court of Justice, Pachev said he will take with him from Michigan new appreciation for "lawyers as a particular group in society with an important role and responsibility."
In addition to praising his professors, Pachev also expressed admiration for his fellow students.
"The people who study here are incredibly smart and motivated," he said. "They set a very high pace and you need to keep up."
For future students, specifically internationals, Pachev offered this advice: "Take in as much of the Law School’s academic and cultural offerings as possible. Study, work hard and explore all the questions. The more intense you make this experience, the more you get out of it."
Set to return to Europe in May, Pachev says he is now at a career crossroads, with the option to join a private practice in Europe—he worked briefly with a leading firm in Brussels—or take the "public institution path," which he concedes is more consistent with his experience.
He also aspires to a judicial position, but before pursuing such a career, Pachev said he hopes to gain more practical experience.
"After all," he adds, "I left my position at the Court to give myself this choice and explore the other side of the bench."
But whether he is practicing antitrust law, constitutional law, immigration law, or labor law, Pachev said he will remember the excellent teachings of Michigan Law instructors such as Prof. Daniel Halberstam, director of the European Legal Studies Program; the endless resources of the Law Library; and the rather "enormous," but ever-friendly, campus squirrels.
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