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Southwestern Faculty Approves Unique Summer Law Program in Armenia

Updated: Jul 19, 2021

For years, Los Angeles’ second oldest law school has had a special relationship with the Armenian-American community.

Home to over 130 law students of Armenian heritage, Southwestern also boasts a cadre of active and engaged Armenian-American alumni who for decades have been leaders in the Armenian community as well as the community at large. Southwestern’s commitment to the Armenian community was recently reflected through the unprecedented and much lauded Southwestern Armenia Fellowship that was established with Armenia’s Ministry of Justice, from 2012 to 2014.

Southwestern has now taken another unprecedented step in supporting the Armenian community and recognizing the important role Armenia can play in the international education and training of legal practitioners. The faculty at Southwestern Law School propose to establish the first ever U.S. law school program in Yerevan, Armenia, with the goal that the program will begin in summer 2016.

Southwestern is approved by the American Bar Association (ABA), and Summer Abroad programs must also be approved by the ABA before implementation. Having secured faculty support, the next step is to obtain ABA approval for the Yerevan program. Spearheaded by Vice Dean Anahid Gharakhanian, the program has received the enthusiastic support of Dean Susan Prager, faculty and students.

Yerevan Summer Program for Law Students

The plan is for the Yerevan Summer Abroad Program to be hosted at the American University of Armenia, mid-June to mid-July, and offering 4 units of law school credit. The program will be open to all J.D. students from ABA-approved law schools. To enhance the program’s comparative and international nature, the program will also take several law students from Armenia, and will include academic and social excursions and gatherings.

Students will have the option of taking 2 courses from the following 4 offerings, focused on international trade/business and human rights:

  1. International Human Rights Research and Advocacy – Middle East and North Africa; Professor Sarah Leah Whitson, Human Rights Watch Executive Director, Middle East and North African Division   

  2. Media as an International Human Right; Professor David Goldberg, international lecturer and expert on law and information rights

  3. Business Writing and Drafting; Professor Alexandra D’Italia, Director of the Writing Center at Southwestern

  4. International Trade Law: The Main Instruments of the WTO System; Professor Adelaida Baghdasaryan, Chair, American University of Armenia LL.M. Program  

Program in Yerevan for Prospective Law Students

Southwestern will also offer a 2-week prelaw course for those headed to law school or exploring the idea. Vice Dean Gharakhanian, who is also Professor of Legal Analysis, Writing and Skills and Director of the Externship Program at Southwestern, will teach this course. The prelaw course will educate students about the fundamentals of doing well in law school, including introduction to legal reasoning as well as oral and written articulation of legal issues and analysis. Students will also develop core study and professional skills that are critical to success in law school and the legal profession.

The Southwestern Yerevan Summer Abroad Program is pending approval by the American Bar Association Accreditation Committee. In the meantime, questions about the summer law program or the prelaw course can be directed to Vice Dean Gharakhanian at

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