Southwestern Law School Los Angeles, CA

News Release

Southwestern and Armenia Ministry of Justice Select Inaugural Southwestern Armenia Fellow October 04, 2012
Southwestern and Armenia Ministry of Justice Select Inaugural Southwestern Armenia Fellow

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 cooperation between these entities has resulted in the establishment of the Southwestern Armenia Fellowship. Attorney Garen Nazarian has been selected as the first Fellow to participate in this unique program.

In September, Mr. Nazarian began serving in this yearlong position in Yerevan, Armenia. Throughout the course of his Fellowship, Mr. Nazarian will work on several critical projects including: development of the new Penal Code, establishing probation in the criminal justice system, finalizing the Criminal Procedure Code and potentially developing a parole system.

With an extensive background in criminal justice, Mr. Nazarian brings the experience and expertise that is essential to effectively serve in this role. He spent seven years in the Los Angeles County Public Defender's Office, defending a variety of cases, ranging from theft to murder. He was the lead attorney in over 30 felony and misdemeanor jury trials and conducted more than 20 juvenile trials (adjudications) before judges. He also settled hundreds of cases through negotiation.

"We are very happy to welcome Garen Nazarian as the inaugural Southwestern Armenia Fellow with the Ministry of Justice," said Hon. Hrayr Tovmasyan, Armenia's Minister of Justice. "His arrival is timely as it coincides with the kickoff of our country's historic 2012-16 State Plan on Legal and Judicial Reforms, and we anticipate that he'll play a key role in its implementation. Having our first Southwestern Armenia Fellow with such accomplished credentials, expertise and enthusiasm gives us high hopes and confidence in the far-reaching benefits to Armenia through the anticipated 5-year Fellowship."

Southwestern Interim Dean Austen Parrish commented on Mr. Nazarian's appointment from a pool of excellent applicants. "The enthusiastic response from a number of high-credentialed candidates to the Southwestern Armenia Fellowship position has been overwhelming," he said. Dean Parrish explained why Mr. Narazian is such a good fit for this unique position. "We're thrilled that Garen Nazarian is serving as our first Southwestern Armenia Fellow. Mr. Nazarian's years of service in the public sector, expertise in the criminal justice system, and can-do commitment to help develop the rule of law in Armenia make him an ideal representative of Southwestern half-way across the globe as well as an excellent choice for the important work of the Southwestern Armenia Fellow."

Mr. Nazarian, who earned his J.D. degree from UCLA School of Law and his B.A. from UC Berkeley, said he hopes that he will have an impact on the Armenian justice system that lasts beyond the term of his Fellowship.

"In addition to the practical, I am also looking for ways to bring new ideas and approaches to the government officials, lawyers, judges, law professors and law students who will ultimately be working toward the development of Armenia's criminal justice system," Mr. Nazarian said. "In the United States, the rule of law is highly developed and well established - the public respects and accepts that fact. The Republic of Armenia just turned 21 years old. For 70 years before independence, it was under Soviet rule. Thus, this society's justice system and the public's view toward it are still in the developmental phase. But from everything I have seen, heard, and experienced here so far, the country is on the right path."

The Armenia Fellowship Executive Committee plans to sustain the Fellowship for at least 5 years and continue its fundraising goal of $300,000 for long-term support of the project. 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 Southwestern's Institutional Advancement Office at (213) 738-6814.

Read more about Southwestern's Inaugural Armenia Fellow and his work (PDF)