Southwestern Law School Los Angeles, CA

News Release

March 07, 2012
Southwestern and Armenia Ministry of Justice Initiate Unique Legal Fellowship in Armenia

Southwestern has partnered with the Republic of Armenia's Ministry of Justice to create an opportunity for an American-trained lawyer to spend a year working directly with the Ministry to cultivate Armenia's legal system. The inaugural Southwestern Armenia Fellow will be selected for the fall of 2012.

Hon. Grigor Hovhannissian

"A stable legal system is key to Armenia's continued growth and development, and having the cooperation of Southwestern Law School in our endeavor is truly inspired as well as inspirational," said the Hon. Grigor Hovhannissian, Consul General to the Republic of Armenia. "I hope that our Diaspora community will also be inspired and lend its generous support to the Southwestern Armenia Fellowship with Armenia's Ministry of Justice." The Armenian Bar Association is also supporting the Fellowship and has designated a representative, Mr. Armen Hovannisian, to work with Southwestern on this project.

Hon. Tevrisian, Dean Garth and Hon. Philibosian
(from left) Hon. Dickran Tevrizian, Dean Bryant Garth and Hon. Robert Philibosian

Southwestern embraces the opportunity to serve a developing country and its people who are important to many within the law school community. A large contingent of Southwestern alumni are of Armenian heritage, and the Armenian Law Students' Association is one of the most active on campus. According to Dean Bryant Garth, "Not only is this a nice opportunity to contribute to the justice system in Armenia, but it is also an opportunity to develop a cadre of Southwestern graduates skilled and experienced in promoting the rule of law."

Hon. Hrayr Tovmasyan

The Southwestern Armenia Fellowship was created in response to a call by Hon. Hrayr Tovmasyan, Armenia's Minister of Justice, who recently asked the Armenian legal community in the Diaspora to have American-trained legal professionals help in the development of Armenia's legal system. Upon finalizing the agreement with Southwestern to establish the Fellowship, he said, "Armenia's Ministry of Justice is delighted to have this unprecedented cooperation between the Ministry and Southwestern Law School for advancing the rule of law in Armenia."

A kick-off reception to announce the unique partnership was hosted in February by Gerard Kassabian '01 and was a tremendous success in garnering immediate interest, enthusiasm and support for this new venture (click here to view photos from the kick-off event). The goal of the Armenia Fellowship Executive Committee is to raise $300,000 to sustain the Fellowship for at least five years. The committee is seeking substantial multi-year pledges to help secure the Fellowship's launch next fall as well as its long-term success.
The Southwestern Armenia Fellow will serve in Yerevan, Armenia, and will work directly with the Ministry for a one-year, full-time position. Among other areas, the Fellow's work for 2012-13 will involve one or more of the following:

  • Revising the Civil Procedure Code, including in the areas of due process and adjudication time limits
  • Redrafting the Civil Code and drafting corresponding legislation, in such areas as lease agreements and mortgages
  • Reforming the criminal justice system in the areas of sentencing, incarceration, and reintegration
  • Reforming the penitentiary system, in conformity with international human rights standards
  • Developing alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, including arbitration and mediation
  • Revising provisions of the Judicial Code to balance independence with accountability of the judiciary, as well as focusing on ethics and disciplinary procedure for judges

Serving on the Southwestern Armenia Fellowship Executive Committee are:

  • Hon. Dickran M. Tevrizian, Jr., Ret.
    United States District Court, Central District of California
    Honorary Chair, Armenia Fellowship Executive Committee
  • Hon. Socrates P. Manoukian '77
    Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara
    Advisor, Armenia Fellowship Selection Sub-Committee
  • Professor Anahid Gharakhanian
    Southwestern Law School
  • Armen K. Hovannisian
    Armenian Bar Association
  • Gerard V. Kassabian '01
    Law Offices of Gerard V. Kassabian,
    Southwestern Alumni Association Board of Directors
  • Hon. Robert H. Philibosian '67
    Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP
    Southwestern Board of Trustees
  • Vahe V. Yacoubian
    Manatt, Phelps & Phillips

An overview of the Southwestern Armenia Fellowship is available online. Tax deductible donations to the new Fellowship fund can also be made online (select Armenia Fellowship under Gift Designation) or by calling Associate Dean Debra Leathers in the Institutional Advancement Office.