Afruz Akhundova is a true global citizen. She was born in Azerbaijan and, when she was 18 years old, moved to Moscow, where she secured her Russian law degree. After 10 years of work in the energy industry, she moved to Istanbul. Throughout her career in law, she was involved in a variety of aspects of the energy business: trial work, contracts, planning, and sales. Afruz thought she was going to stay in Turkey, but she reunited with a former fiancé, and together they moved to the United States. A marriage and two daughters later, she became restless.
At the local playground, Afruz would meet daily with her neighbor, Alfonso DeCicco (NYLS ’00), while watching their children play. After working for 12 years in Manhattan, nine of those years at a midsized firm, Al decided to open his own office on Staten Island with an emphasis on real estate and landlord/tenant litigation. Afruz admired the fact that Al had a successful practice and still had time to spend with his family. Through Al, she learned about New York Law School’s American Business Law LL.M. program. Afruz needed some coaxing, so Al loaned her a book, Civil Litigation in New York. With encouragement from her husband, Afruz applied to NYLS and was accepted into the American Business Law LL.M. program in fall 2013. She graduated in December 2014 and will sit for the New York State bar exam in July 2015. Afruz wants to change professional direction now and work in a small or midsized corporate law or tort firm.
NYLS’s American Business Law LL.M. is intended for foreign-educated attorneys who want to qualify to sit for the New York State bar exam. ABL attracts applicants from around the world: Albania, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Israel, Japan, Kosovo, India, Nigeria, Peru, Russia, UK, Ukraine, and Venezuela. Some applicants are already residents of the United States and want to revive their legal careers in their new home. Other applicants come to the United States on F-1 visas intending to take the New York State bar exam and then return to their home countries with this added professional enhancement. Either way, the ABL program is student-centered, with its Director, Professor Lloyd Bonfield and Assistant Dean Hazel Weiser available to counsel students to assure compliance with New York State Board of Law Examiner requirements and a pathway into a new phase of their legal careers.