Nataliia Graves

1.  What country are you from and where did you get your law degree?

I am originally from the Ukraine, 14 years ago I immigrated to the US. I got my law degree from Kyiv National University of Internal Affairs of the Ukraine and graduated summa cum laude in May 2008.


2.  Tell us something about yourself and your country of origin?

Ever since I was little I always fought for justice and that’s where I found my passion for law. I liked to present the evidence to prove my point of view and win the dispute in the end. That’s how I decided to become an attorney. In the Ukraine we have a codified law which is different from the U.S. common law legal system. It is great to see the differences and the similarities on how law evolves in different countries. I have been working as a legal assistant in IP litigation, trademarks, patents and corporate law while living in the United States, and after that, I decided to take myself on a new adventure and became a flight attendant for the Emirates Airlines. I moved to Dubai, UAE for a few years and traveled the world. That’s how I discovered my passion for aviation law.


3. Why did you decide to seek a graduate degree in the U.S. and what attracted you to SMU Law?

Since, I have lived and worked in the legal field in Texas, I wanted to get my license and become an attorney. I decided to apply to SMU and get my general LL.M. degree which will satisfy the Bar requirements and will allow me to sit for UBE in July 2021. I have worked in the past with SMU alumni and heard a lot of good things about the school and the faculty. Also, the foreign attorney’s Bar passage rate was the highest one in the state and that’s what attracted me to the SMU Dedman School of law, not to mention our campus which made top twenty of the most beautiful college campuses in America.  Dallas is the city of opportunities where Fortune 500 companies are located and it has a good exposure to international law, such as international arbitration, where my foreign language skills wil be handy resolving disputes between foreign companies.


4. What has been your favorite class?

My favorite class is Torts with Professor Bavli and Dean Camp (Torts section in Perspectives of the American Legal Systems). Both professors deliver the material in an immaculate way, explaining the Restatements of Torts for the students in order to get a better grip of the rule of law and show in action how to implement it in everyday life, by case examples.

5. Tell us about your experience in the Corporate Counsel Externship Program so far at SMU Law. Are there any programs you are specifically looking at being a part of?

I absolutely love the law school, I enjoy learning the law and seeing how it can take a different turn with the similar facts in the common law cases. At SMU there is a wonderful Externship Program that I want to be a part of, working in a legal department for the Dallas Cowboys, Mavericks, Texas Rangers or American Airlines.


6. What is our favorite thing to do in Dallas?

Dallas is such a diverse city that has a lot to offer - I enjoy a long walk on a Katy Trail in the Uptown area, attending "Restaurant Wee"k with friends and trying different cuisines from all over the world, reading at Lakeside Park and movie nights at the SMU Law Quad.


7. What are you planning to do after graduation?

After graduation, I plan to sit for the Texas Bar (July 2021) and get a job in a law firm, where I can use my previous legal experience and language skills to be a part of a law firm which specialize in Intellectual Property, Aviation law or work on personal injury cases for NFL, MLB, NBA or NHL leagues.


8. What tips or advise do you have for a new LL.M. student?

My advice for new LL.M. students would be, before starting law school do your research and learn how to brief cases, familiarize yourself with The Bluebook (a uniform system of citation), read books such as: “Getting to Maybe” (How to Excel on Law School Exams) by Richard Fischl and Jeremy Paul, “Open Book” by Berry Friedman and John Goldberg, and review 1L Mastery Course on Bar Prep Platforms (Barbri, Themis, Kaplan - these resources are free of charg), and read the Bar requirements in the state that you wish to practice. Enjoy the best year of your life in a law school, make connections with the professors, attend their office hours, and create strong friendships with the students and start building up your network. You just got to stay focused and believe in yourself and trust your own ability and judgement.