Alumni Interview Series with Anna Biczó, 2017 HIF Graduate Scholarship Recipient
When we met Anna back in 2017, she was a graduate student at Fordham University in New York City studying International Business and Trade Law. She was one of HIF’s Graduate Scholarship recipients in the Fall of 2017. The Scholarship supports talented young Hungarians who pursue graduate studies in the United States.
At the time, Anna was a first-year LLM candidate with an emphasis in International Business and Trade Law. Before attending Fordham, Anna earned a J.D. from Pazmany Peter Catholic University in Budapest, Hungary. Upon graduation, she was admitted to the Budapest Bar Association where she began practicing law as an attorney at Ecovis Hungary Legal, where she had previously been a law clerk for a number of years.
We were eager to see how Anna is now, and how she’s been doing since her US experience.
Where are you on your career path now, Anna?
I graduated from Pazmany Peter Catholic University Faculty of Law with a legal diploma in 2010. Then I was a practicing lawyer in Budapest, Hungary for 7 years. I passed the bar exam in 2015 in Hungary. Since I always felt the desire for continuous development in my life, I applied to LLM studies in the United States and attended Fordham University in New York City, which allowed me to satisfy my hunger for new knowledge and new experiences.
With the generous support from HIF, I graduated with an LLM degree in International Business and Trade Law in 2018. After the LLM, I was able to stay for an additional year and work for big corporations such as Apple in the compliance area and as a financial contract negotiator for BNP Paribas Bank. After these two amazing years in New York City, I recently moved back home to Budapest, Hungary.
With my LLM diploma in international business and trade law, my aim was to find a company to work for and contribute my Hungarian and US legal knowledge as well as international legal and business experience. I believe I have found a perfect opportunity with Vodafone Group Legal, where as part of the Hungarian legal team, we support Vodafone business worldwide and negotiate different international contracts. It is an exciting job, where I can provide legal assistance based on the knowledge and experience that I gained in the United States.
Which achievements are you most proud of since we met?
I am honored that I had the opportunity to study abroad; my dream came true when I got accepted to Fordham University in New York.
“As a Hungarian lawyer, it was a proud moment when the Dean of Fordham Law University called my name and handed over my LLM diploma to the only Hungarian among 120 international students. I always proudly presented my country and the Hungarian heritage to my classmates and professors.”
Another achievement that I would like to mention is, during my studies I had an amazing opportunity as I was among a few students who could work and contribute to the Corporate Social Responsibility Legal Clinic. This is a unique practical program at Fordham. I supported the clinic with the matter of UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human rights, where we researched and assessed big corporation’s performance on it. I believe this matter is getting more important worldwide in the upcoming years.
Lastly, I would like to share that I had the chance to work with my wonderful professor, Josefa Sicard-Mirabel, to write an essay and do a presentation relating to alternative dispute resolution and map out the key differences between the European and US regulations and practices. It was an honor to work with a well-established arbitrator and legal professor.
How did your experience with HIF in the US help you reach your goals?
I truly believe that without HIF support I would not have been able to fulfill my dream and study in the US in these circumstances. I believe HIF is an extraordinary foundation, that provides essential and huge support to Hungarian students. Also, the other mission of HIF is an amazing initiative to bring American students with Hungarian heritage closer to Hungary.
Additionally, HIF organized a wonderful study tour for Hungarian students who study in the US, the Young Hungarian Leaders Program, where we had a chance to get to know each other, brainstorm different challenging ideas, and pitch it to the organizers. In addition, we learned about the structure of the US government, the federal system, legal regime, and visited foundations, think-tanks, and other organizations in Washington DC. These 5 days of this intense program helped me a lot to have a better understanding of America and it was a great addition to my studies.
What struggles/challenges did you have to overcome to reach/move closer to your goals?
With having experience and working in the civil law system for years, at first it was a challenge to think through cases and the structure of law based on principles and precedents according to common law. Also taking an exam with open books was such an interesting task. It taught me to take my exam in a very similar way as having a client in front of me. I believe this is a good exercise for all future lawyers.
I would mention all of the administrative steps as well what I had to do to be able to get to the LLM program: fulfill and collect all certificates, recommendation letters, health checks, TOEFL language exam, and structure my application, handle the visa application – just to mention a few, then apply to classes to get the best out of the one year program and use my time wisely.
What impact did your US experience have on your overall journey?
“It was an eye-opening journey to study and work in the US. Meeting international students from all over the world, studying from knowledgeable professors with exciting backgrounds, creating life-long friendships with people from different nations, and being able to live abroad, especially in one of the most amazing cities in the world was a life-changing experience. I believe these two years in New York made fundamental changes in my way of thinking, taught me to be open and acceptable to differences, however at the same time it deepened my beliefs in my fundamental values and important matters to me.”
What are your plans for the future?
I would like to continue to offer my experiences from a legal point of view and also for instance what I learned about CSR matters. Thus I am involved in CSR and environmental initiative at my work. I volunteer for students and elderly people. From time to time legal students find me and ask about my LLM studies, I always happily guide them. I also support the Hungarian Red Cross through Vodafone Foundation, and I had a few opportunities to talk about legal issues to non-legal audiences at a Hungarian radio station. For example, how to write a will, what are the most important elements of an effective testament. I also support a classical music and performing art foundation in Hungary as a pro bono engagement.
What piece of advice do you have for future recruits?
Be brave and be open to new challenges.
What books are currently on your reading list?
I really like this question. I have recently finished two books, which were really interesting. One is Sándor Márai, Az Igazi (Portraits of a marriage). The other one is from Dr. Edith Eva Eger, The Choice. I would really recommend both of them. Currently, I am reading Noemi Orvos-Tóth, Örökölt sors (It is a bit difficult to translate, but something like “Inherited fate within the family”).