Armenian Bar Association & American University of Armenia Launch Legal Clinic
GLENDALE, U.S. ‒ The American University of Armenia (AUA) and the Armenian Bar Association (ArmenBar) joined forces to sponsor a new Technology and Innovation Legal Clinic at AUA’s campus in Yerevan through two receptions in California, led by David Balabanian, Esq.
The Golden State Bank in Glendale hosted the Los Angeles metro area gathering and the law offices of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, LLP in San Francisco, with Balabanian as host, served as the engaging settings for legal professionals, AUA leadership and supporters who came together to learn more about the ArmenBars partnership with Armenia’s leading university and its innovative projects for current and future students.
Balabanian, the first chairman of the ArmenBar, welcomed guests and highlighted the significance of raising dialogue about the role of legal education in Armenia by creating stronger ties between the Diaspora and the homeland. Through his work with the ArmenBar, Balabanian has brought continued awareness to critical legal issues in Armenia, which is now at a crossroads thanks to the Velvet Revolution and a newfound respect for the law.
“We are experiencing a new era in Armenia,” said Balabanian, who practices commercial litigation. “We hope to expect rule of law and as lawyers we have a special obligation to ensure the safeguarding of the legal system.”
Launching in the Fall of 2018, the Technology and Innovation Legal Clinic, whose operating costs will be sponsored by the ArmenBar, will be made available to the student community through AUA’s Master of Laws (LL.M.) program.
The clinic, which Balabanian noted as a “valuable resource,” will be the first in Armenia to address the needs for professional legal counseling in rapidly growing fields, including technology, which is experiencing a 20% growth in Armenia. Selected AUA students will gain hands-on experience working and providing counseling to IT and engineering startups in relation to a wide range of legal issues, from company registration to contracting to intellectual property rights protection.
The legal clinic is one of the many projects Balabanian has spearheaded for the legal community over the years. In addition to his impactful work with the ArmenBar, he has served as chairman of the California State Bar Conference of Delegates, lawyer delegate to the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference, trustee of the Practising Law Institute, and a member of the Harvard Law School Visiting Committee. As an instructor, he has taught more than 150 continuing legal education courses and written extensively on law-related topics.
During his remarks, AUA President Dr. Armen Der Kiureghian shared with attendees important updates about the University, including the recently signed bill that provides free law school tuition to the University of California, Hastings College of the Law for AUA graduates who are residents of California.
“The signing of this bill by Senator Anthony Portantino shows the confidence that the state of California and UC Hastings have in the American University of Armenia,” said Dr. Der Kiureghian.
He elaborated on the positive changes occuring in Armenia, including the election of a government and a Prime Minister “who respects the law in Armenia and adheres to the principles of fairness and democracy.”
President Der Kiureghian noted that the student body and faculty were involved in the Velvet Revolution, choosing to exercise their civic duty and rights. He spoke of the work of AUA’s Entrepreneurship and Product Innovation Center (EPIC), which will work in tandem with the Technology and Innovation Legal Clinic, as well as AUA’s partnerships with USAID and plans to start an AUA press.
“We have matured as a university,” said Dr. Der Kiureghian. “And we maintain our promise of selecting students based on merit and not financial capacity, making sure we attract the brightest minds.”
As the director of one of the most creative and effective centers at AUA, EPIC, Dr. Michael Kouchakdjian elaborated on the activities of the ecosystem, which provides AUA’s emerging entrepreneurs with a collaborative space consisting of programs, events and a network of mentors, advisors and investors. In relation to its partnership with the Technology and Innovation Legal Clinic, workshops and seminars will be organized for EPIC and other IT and engineering enterprises and teams. In addition, thanks to the ArmenBar’s sponsorship, top quality legal professionals will supervise the activities of the LL.M. program students in order to ensure consistency and quality of service. Touching on the synergy between the Center and AUA, Dr. Kouchakdjian said that through EPIC, the community at large can engage in the startup venture ecosystem, which is becoming increasingly popular in Armenia.
Dr. Lawrence Pitts, Chair of the Board of Trustees and former Provost of the University of California system, said AUA has become a transformative university in Armenia and through the support of benefactors, it can become the best in the region.
“AUA is a superb investment in Armenia, like the University of California is a great investment for the state,” said Dr. Pitts. “Our students are the future of the country, and AUA works hard to prepare them successfully as employees, researchers and engaged citizens, which is the best way for Armenia to grow and prosper in the coming years.”
Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia, and affiliated with the University of California. AUA provides a global education in Armenia and the region, offering high-quality graduate and undergraduate studies, encouraging civic engagement, and promoting public service and democratic values. For more information about the American University of Armenia and its donor opportunities, please visit www.aua.am.