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Mohammed Hamza al-Harbi 2012

Mohammed Hamza al-Harbi did not enroll at Pace Law School to become an attorney. He had already been working for four years as a lawyer and one year as the chief compliance officer at an insurance company in his native Saudi Arabia. Mohammed arrived in New York to complete an LLM degree in Comparative Legal Studies, concentrating in business and commercial international law comparing Islamic law with United States law.

“They are not as different as I expected,” he commented. “The Islamic law uses the same idea of the common law in some ways in regards to acts that are not covered by the enacted law.  But the legal system in Saudi Arabia has a special nature, which is inspired by both Shari’a law and civil law, but it’s more like a civil law country.”

However, in Saudi Arabia, about 90 percent of the law is written and the balance is subject to royal decisions. The bigger difference for him, he says, has been the way American law schools teach.

“Here, we read about real cases and then come to class and discuss,” he said. “In Saudi Arabia, we would go to class and listen.”

The Pace Law professors have also impressed him. Mohammed cited Robert Michael’s familiarity with Islamic finance law and Mark Shulman’s extensive knowledge of the Gulf region as key to his experiences here.

He has also participated in the opportunities provided by the Pace English Language Institute located on the New York City campus. At the Institute, he studied the English language while he interacted with students from all around the world.

Mohammed graduates this spring and will be returning to Saudi Arabia. He plans to resume his career in business enriched by his newfound understanding of international law and his experiences at Pace Law.

“I feel ready,” he said. “I have all the tools.”