Virtual Guest Speakers: an element of my dual-mode teaching experience to retain

While my dual mode teaching experience still leaves a somewhat mitigated aftertaste and loads of space for improvement, there is one element of it, which I would definitely repeat: the virtual guest speaker engagement.

After COVID made it obvious that the visits to the international organizations in Geneva would not be possible this Fall, (notably, the WTO and, occasionally, the WIPO, which were an integral part of my Corporate and Business Law class during several past years), I was in desperate search for another suitable experience, which could show my students a bit more of the legal “reality”, desirably, in its multiple “shades” and “facets”.

A couple of days of brainstorming resulted in a “virtual guest speakers” solution. As half of my students were already engaging online from Norway, Russia and Spain, integrating a colleague to some of our Google meet / Zoom sessions sounded absolutely natural. The next steps were obvious: I identified potential topics linked to our program, determined a prospective timeframe for the guest speakers’ participation (between 30 minutes to 1 hour in duration), and, last, reached out to my global legal network.

The response was positive and abundant: 5 speakers from the 5 different countries on the 4 continents, working in varied legal domains:

Dr. Luciane A. Corrêa Münch, Chief Judge of Internal Affairs at Federal Justice of the Fourth Region (Brazil)
Mr. Nicolas Torrent, Lawyer, Innovation & Disruption Strategy – Managing Director, Digilegal – Vice-President, Swiss LegalTech Association (Switzerland)
Ms. Resian Tolu, International Law, International Trade and Development Lawyer (Kenya)
Mr. Gergely Szaloki, Partner at Schoenherr Attorneys at Law, Banking & Finance (Hungary)
Mr. Halil Ibrahim Kardicali, Country Leader 3M Türkiye / South East Europe Region Senior Legal Counsel (Turkey)

The result was indeed enriching. The topics discussed included the peculiarities of actual judicial decision-making; the best ways for non-lawyers to use the legal tech solutions; optimization of corporate taxation and double taxation avoidance; applied aspects of structuring large financial transactions and simple and practical steps to take when preparing to conclude a commercial contract, suitable for a business of any size, from an MSME to a multinational enterprise. The speakers also gladly responded to the questions of the students, shared hints on how to find a suitable lawyer and get the very best from the cooperation with her/him, and were open to share feedback on the issues ranging beyond the law “proper”, for instance, their personal career choices.

All the speakers without exception reported having enjoyed the experience and manifested their willingness to repeat it again, virtually or even in person, should such chance arise. In my assessment, their participation indeed made a difference and contributed to better reaching the learning outcomes of the course.

I sincerely thank each of them for their generous contributions!

By Dr. Leonila Guglya, BSL Professor