Interview with Jola Gjuzi, MLB 2008, Albania

Jola Gjuzi submitted her Ph.D. thesis on investment law and arbitration

You graduated from the Master of Law and Business Program in 2008 and just finished your Ph.D. thesis. Did you start writing your Ph.D. right after you graduated or did you do something else in between?

“After my MLB graduation in 2008, I returned to Albania and was promoted to senior associate at a law firm where I had already worked before starting the MLB program. Having had an excellent experience at Bucerius Law School during my MLB studies, I decided to return to Hamburg, where I started my doctoral project in the area of international investment law and arbitration.”  

While you were working on your thesis, you worked in a law firm in Hamburg that specializes in International Arbitration for many years. What makes this field so attractive for you?

“I worked for the arbitration practice of the law firm Luther in Hamburg, with an admirable team of German and foreign lawyers, and led by one of the most prominent arbitration lawyers in Germany. Given the scope of my doctoral research, which focuses on substantive issues of investment law and arbitration, I was happy to get involved in the arbitration practice. In this way, I could not only consolidate my theoretical knowledge, but most importantly, engage in practical issues of procedural law. The latter is essential to anyone wishing to become an arbitration lawyer. At this point, I should mention that in addition to the professional benefit, I had the chance to experience an outstanding work culture, characterized by the well-known German work discipline and correctness, as well as by team work, cooperation, and reliability. I believe these values are indispensable for having a good work spirit, and ultimately, for achieving high-level performance.  

I find international commercial and investment arbitration highly attractive. Firstly, there is the ‘international’ element, which brings together different jurisdictions and legal cultures. It further gives an opportunity to any lawyer to practice beyond the jurisdiction in which he or she was trained. Secondly, there is the ‘arbitration’ element, a dispute resolution mechanism which has already proven of being a successful alternative to judicial proceedings.  

In view of my specialization in investment arbitration, I would also add a third element. This is ‘the presence of sovereign states’ as respondents in arbitration disputes, which brings about issues of interaction of private and public law, national and international law. I was fortunate to be involved in cases where foreign investors challenged the conduct of host states, such as Germany, Spain, Czech Republic, Moldova, Albania, etc. Certainly, the Albanian case was especially interesting for me, as I had the task of analyzing legal issues of my own jurisdiction, but from an international law perspective.”  

Why do you think should a young lawyer learn more about arbitration? Why is this field important?

“Arbitration is a consolidated dispute resolution mechanism known for its flexibility, confidentiality, and speed. It is increasingly attractive to commercial companies. So should it be to young lawyers wishing to specialize in areas where law and business intersect. The ‘international’ aspect of arbitration is another reason why young lawyers coming from different areas around the world, can have a chance to practice law and dispute resolution in a truly international environment.  

In the case of investor-state arbitration, certainly the cases mentioned above and other similar ones that are currently ongoing, involve complex legal and policy issues. In our times, these issues are very much debated in the public scene. I hence see the option of specializing in international arbitration, both as a challenge and honor, and cannot but recommend it to young lawyers. In this perspective, I very much welcome the specialization in arbitration offered by the Master of Law and Business program. It is timely and certainly a qualitative addition to the MLB degree.”  

What is next for you now that moved back to your home country of Albania?  

“After my post-graduate studies and considerable work experience in Hamburg, I decided to return to Albania, eager to put into practice my knowledge to the best extent, and to hopefully contribute to the development of my country. I now work as a partner in a leading law firm, and assist international bodies and foreign companies investing in Albania. At the same time, I will undertake a number of academic commitments, so as to impart my knowledge to law students wishing to specialize in international arbitration."  

What advice would you give to future students?  

“It goes without saying that students have different passions and interests in choosing their career path. Above, I enumerated a number of reasons why international arbitration is both important and interesting. It is however also complex and challenging, often involving high profile cases, requiring long working hours, and team work. I would therefore remind future students to select this specialization if they are indeed interested and passionate about it. I am sure, the academic and professional staff behind this specialization track, will do the rest of the work. I say this because what I have experienced is a specialized and dedicated staff. Lecturers offer highly qualitative teaching, while also having high expectations from students, which is ultimately reflected in the students’ performance and achievements during and after the program."  

What is your fondest memory of your time in Hamburg?  

“Hamburg is my second home town. This is where I have accomplished some of my major aspirations. These include my postgraduate studies – the MLB and the Dr. iur. project, and my work experience in the arbitration practice of a reputable law firm in Germany. Hamburg is a beautiful and breath-taking city, both metropolitan and idyllic, welcoming and green. I cannot distinguish among the Alster Lakes, the Elbe River, the canals all around, the parks, as well as the museums, theaters and music halls, and most importantly, the port of Hamburg and Hafen City. Each and all of them have enriched my stay every day, and made my time in Hamburg unforgettable. So have the very close friendships that I have made at the law school and at the law firm, and which remain a strong reason for me to visit Hamburg. All these motives, professional and human, confirm what Hamburg indeed is, ‘das Tor zur Welt’”.