Europeans favor the nonadversarial approach, and it works better in a huge corporation.”
Last summer in hot, humid Virginia, Jeff Qureshi received an email from a German attorney asking, “Wouldn’t you like to hike and bike in the nice, cool Alps?” It wasn’t a vacation suggestion, but a job offer.
Jeff had negotiated contracts with her for several years—she for the German pharmaceutical firm Sandoz, and he for PRA International, a contract research organization (CRO) that performs clinical trials for drug companies. Her office was already modeling other CRO contracts on those Jeff had written; they knew his legal skills, scientific background, and cooperative lawyering style were a perfect fit for their generics company, Sandoz International GmbH and its affiliate, Hexal AG.
It’s turned out to be a great move, both professionally and socially. Although Jeff and his wife, Danielle, are learning German from scratch (Jeff’s work is conducted in English), they and their young twins feel right at home in their Bavarian town just south of Munich.
Jeff is the sole American among the 20 lawyers and staffers that comprise the legal group at Sandoz and Hexal global headquarters (both companies belong to the generics division of drug giant Novartis). “We have really strong attorneys from all over Europe,” he says. “And everyone has been so welcoming. I already have a number of good friends and have learned so much from them.” Jeff’s VLS ties to VLS didn’t end after graduation, and those contacts have been valuable. “When I told Professor Smiddy that I was working in Germany, she immediately put me in touch with colleagues and friends who live here.”
General law studies at VLS opened Jeff’s multinational path. “I concentrated on the fundamentals,” he recalls. Law was something new for this scientist with an undergraduate degree in biology and an MS in physiology. But the handwritten note on his VLS acceptance letter said, “Your science background will be appreciated here,” which proved true.
Jeff praises Vermont Law School’s faculty and the cooperative rather than cut-throat learning atmosphere. “My professors at VLS rocked,” he enthuses. “Every one was some hot shot when they were in law school. As teachers, they went beyond the textbook stuff to make sure you understood the material. My first-year contracts class with Linda Smiddy was exceptional—I regularly call on what I learned from her.” He says he often relies on legal fundamentals learned at VLS. “International laws are not much different from U.S. laws; the civil code provides an answer to most legal questions.”
At VLS Jeff also learned confrontation need not be the default in law school or in practice. “Europeans favor the nonadversarial approach, and it works better in a huge corporation, especially when you’re partnering with another one,” he notes. “Even when things are a bit uncomfortable, I’ll find a way to be amicable. After all, the bottom line in my work is that we believe pharmaceuticals help save people’s lives.”