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Panamanian LLM wows Fitts with Jackson Square photo

November 03, 2014


Joaquín De Obarrio (LLM ’15) won Tulane President Michael Fitts’ photo challenge with a shot of Jackson Square taken while exploring the French Quarter with friends.

Photo by Joaquín De Obarrio 

Newcomers to New Orleans quickly learn key lessons: Prepare for a downpour, even when the forecast is clear skies. Explore the city’s unique history. And, most of all, keep a camera handy.

Tulane LLM student Joaquín De Obarrio, who arrived this summer from Panama, snapped a winning photo of Jackson Square while on a Sunday stroll with friends: Following an afternoon storm, the fading sun peeks behind clouds to illuminate St. Louis Cathedral.

“I remember thinking that this place probably looked the same a hundred years ago — except for the cars of course,” De Obarrio said.

Tulane President Michael Fitts liked it, too, enough to treat De Obarrio to Sunday brunch at Commander’s Palace as one of five winners of the first Presidential Photo Challenge. De Obarrio called the Nov. 2 brunch a delightful reward and said he found Fitts “very fun and welcoming.”

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Tulane President Michael Fitts welcomed LLM student Joaquin De Obarrio to a Commander’s Palace brunch Nov. 2.

At the start of the fall semester, Fitts asked new students to send him photos from their explorations of Tulane and New Orleans and and promised to treat the top two photographers to a Commander’s meal. But the entries were so impressive, Fitts said, he couldn’t narrow it beyond five.

De Obarrio, who is earning a general LLM degree and serving as new president of Graduate Lawyers at Tulane, said he most appreciates the city’s rich history, art and architecture. And the Jackson Square photo highlights the best of his New Orleans experiences thus far.

“Tulane and New Orleans offer a unique combination of academics, culture and fun that surely cannot be found anywhere else,” he said.

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Joaquin De Obarrio displays his winning photo of Jackson Square.

Photo by Tracie Morris Schaefer 

De Obarrio became interested in the LLM program after taking a seminar in Panama with Professor Colin Crawford, director of the Payson Center for International Development, and Tulane Law students. The strongest draw was Tulane’s strong reputation in Panama and mix of common law and civil law offerings, De Obarrio said.

The law school has more than 150 living Panamanian alumni, including Cabinet ministers, Supreme Court justices, diplomats and many of the country’s top lawyers. Tulane’s Panamanian alumni are so devoted to their alma mater that they started a scholarship fund that this year is providing support for two LLM students, Cristina de Roux and Claudia Juárez Barahona.

Before enrolling at Tulane, De Obarrio practiced corporate and commercial law at Arias, Aleman & Mora, whose partners include four Tulane Law graduates (one JD and three LLMs). He said he had worked at the firm full-time as a paralegal while earning his law degree through night classes at Universidad Católica Santa María la Antigua. 

He plans to return to practicing commercial law in Panama, with the enhanced skills and credentials a Tulane degree and American legal training will provide.

“Law is becoming so globalized. I think having my LLM will be very beneficial, because lawyers now need to have a more international focus,” he said. He added that “It’s important to know the American legal terms and understand how American lawyers think.”

(Note: This story was updated on Nov. 3 from an earlier version.)


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