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Stepan Khzrtian, Esq. (LL.M. 10), Founding Partner of LegalLab, Sees the Growth of AUA and Armenia Going Hand-in-Hand

3 min read

The American University of Armenia (AUA) has been a significant part of Stepan Khzrtian’s (LL.M. ‘10) life since the day he visited the campus as a junior in high school.  

As founding partner of the LegalLab Law Boutique that has offices in Los Angeles and Yerevan, the attorney recalls his first encounter at AUA when he met with Dr. Matthew Karanian, who was at the time the Associate Dean of AUA’s Master of Laws (LL.M.) program. He gave Khzrtian a tour of the humble classrooms, library and computer room. Over a decade later, Khzrtian has seen first-hand the advances AUA has made in its academia and resources.

“When I saw how far AUA had come in terms of having a full library with several thousand books, their connection to research sites Westlaw and LexisNexis and updated academic environment, I realized AUA was where I should study for my LL.M.,” said Khzrtian, who is a 2010 graduate of the program.  

Through AUA, Khzrtian said he “gained a number of lifelong friends and connections,” including his business partner Nareg Arshoghatoyan, whom he initially met while working at the Arlex International law firm in Yerevan and developed a friendship as classmates in the LL.M. program.

“Personally, AUA made me a richer person,” said Khzrtian, who earned his undergraduate degree in political science from Yerevan State University (YSU). “Professionally, it gave me access to a top-notch education in the heart of Armenia.”

He remarked that he made good use of AUA’s opportunities, such as participating in moot court competitions, legal seminars and other professional benefits, including the synergy between professors and students. He remembers two classes he enrolled in that stood out – International Commercial Tax and Corporate Law, citing the “excellent professors” who taught clearly and possessed great knowledge of the topics. He recognized this when he studied at Cambridge University right after graduating from AUA and realized he was ahead of his classmates, so much that they would ask him information about tax credits and tax deductions after class.

“The name of AUA beautifully reflects the essence of the University,” said Khzrtian, a recipient of the Vartkess M. Balian Scholarship. “It offers a Western education in the heart of Armenia, giving students the best of both worlds.”

Making sure to stay connected to his alma mater, Khzrtian values the importance of education and sees the growth of AUA and Armenia going hand-in-hand. He is eager to see the development of more think tanks, analysis and research methodology spread throughout the country whether in the humanities or natural sciences.

“Having AUA develop along that line would gift Armenia with a resource-rich instrumentally prepared institution, to serve both the public and societal interest,” said Khzrtian.

He has studied Armenia and the Diaspora thoroughly, having been a member of both worlds and finds the notion of a separation between the two to be “outdated.”

“In a new world where global politics is becoming more significant and us being the unordinary nation we are, we have to rethink that paradigm,” said Khzrtian. “Armenia and the Diaspora should be viewed as one whole unit which is consolidated around the aspect of Armenia and Artsakh.”

Born in Yerevan, Khzrtian was 9 months old when his family moved to Los Angeles. By the age of 12 he had returned to his birthplace and decided to stay there during college despite acceptances from prestigious schools in the United States. His decision gave him “perspective” and the time to fully understand the complexities of Armenia. Khzrtian remains committed to the communities of both the U.S. and Armenia, as a committed member of community organizations from the Western Diocese’s Nerouj program to the Huys Foundation. His lifelong goal is to serve Armenia through foreign policy and protect the national security of the homeland.

“Anything that happens in Armenia should have repercussions throughout the world and vice versa,” said Khzrtian. “That is a vision I have of Armenia I hold dear to my heart.”

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.

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