International Law Panel



Two distinguished attorneys served as panelists for the International Law Panel for law students at UNT Dallas College of Law on January 26, 2017.  The panelists were:

  • Grace Ho, Senior Associate at Vinson & Elkins (Labor & International Employment Issues)
  • Gabriela Noemi Smith, Managing Attorney at The Gabriela Noemi Smith Law Firm (Business & International Law)

Ms. Smith provided five tips that helped her establish her own law firm. She expressed to students that the tips are very beneficial in creating the life and career they may want. First, think long-term. Understand that as a lawyer, you are also a business. Second, learn and study market forces and industry trends, and be strategic in how you create the life you want. She stated that students should focus on a particular market size, investigate that particular market, and find a niche. Third, think about your uniqueness and use your uniqueness to your advantage. Fourth, focus on your target clientele. Always know what you like, and work towards your goals. Lastly, enjoy work!

Ms. Ho began her presentation by explaining her rules of thumb. First, “Everything that you do is to build a platform, or it is to build a platform to where you should be.” She suggested that as students begin to build their platform, they should determine what their preference(s) are and specialize in them. Ms. Ho’s last rule of thumb was, students should be informed and prepared on subjects that they are interested in, and they should look for opportunities in their desired practice area.

(L - R) 2L Trerod Hall, 2L Mary Heliane Fabian, Gabriela Noemi Smith. Grace Ho, 3L Carolyn Okorafor

Subsequently, both panelists provided insight about their career paths and the diverse practice areas encompassed by international law. Ms. Smith stated that a substantial amount of international law work is commercial because of globalization. Moreover, Ms. Ho conveyed that as a labor and employment attorney, there are always cases that touch other jurisdictions. The panelists said that because international law involves a variety of issues locally and internationally, existing as an umbrella covering many practice areas, there are no shortages of opportunities to practice international law.

In addition, Professor Mike Maslanka, instructor for International Law at UNT Dallas College of Law, stated that the practice of international law requires an understanding of how culture affects the attorney-client relationship. Both panelists agreed. Furthermore, Ms. Ho stated that understanding your client’s culture helps you learn as much as you possibly can about your client, so that you can understand where your client is coming from to anticipate his or her questions or concerns.

Following the panel, Connie Beckerley, a third-year law student, stated, “The International Law Panel was both informative and motivational.” She added, “I benefited from the speakers’ clear explanations and advice about how to navigate the field of international law. I especially appreciated Ms. Ho’s encouragement to us that we should be informed and prepared, then assess what is driving us, and then repeat until we get to where we want to be.”