December, 2 2013
By D.D. Wolohan
Imagine spending one month halfway around the world in a foreign exchange internship studying the legal system and soaking up the culture. That's what Vladimir Palamarciuc, of Moldova, has been experiencing
at the State Bar Center. The State Bar, and General Counsel Richard Spinello, in particular, has had the pleasure of hosting this lawyer trainee throughout October. And a busy month it's been as Palamarciuc
attended staff and committee meetings and CLE programs, interacted with professors and students at the UNM School of Law, and spent time in the courtroom of Metro Court Judge Henry Alaniz, where he witnessed televised pleadings from the jailed defendants. He traveled to Santa Fe one day with State Bar Executive Director Joe Conte to attend a Chief Justice Committee meeting, and then attended the symposium at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center marking 100 years since the pronouncement of the Supreme Court decision
United States v. Sandoval, which addressed the issues of Pueblo Indian lands as Indian country. But it hasn't all been work as the 26-year-old has attended ample social events, from the YLD Mentorship BBQ to the Special Shapes Rodeo at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, a tour of Santa Fe and the Taos Pueblo, a painting class at an art gallery, the opening of Lobo basketball season, and eaten his first-ever donut. After green chile on a breakfast burrito, donuts are a close second in his New Mexico epicurean experience.
Palamarciuc was chosen to participate in the Professional Fellows Program, sponsored by the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and administered by the American Councils for
International Education. The PFP chose 28 young professionals interested in legal careers from Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan to spend a month immersing themselves in understanding a state legal association's structure, activities, and administrative means of providing legal service to the population. Palamarciuc's fellow countryman, a judge, was assigned to Hawaii. This is Palamarciuc's first time in the U.S., and he is very comfortable conversing in English, as well as his native Romanian language and Russian. He studied law for 10 years-four years at college and six at a university. After passing the bar exam he will be recognized as a full attorney. Palamarcius practices business law with the Turcan Cazac Law Firm in the capital city of Kishinev, with 14 attorneys. As Moldova does not have consumer law, the firm handles civil and business law, insolvency and bankruptcy law. Moldova is bordered by Romania and Ukraine, and is a country of 4 million people that gained its independence in 1990 after the fall of the Soviet Union. Palamarciuc said the average income is $250 a month, which roughly covers the $250 monthly expenses. However, agricultural workers make a minimum wage of $75 a month, so it's not surprising that about 1 million residents work abroad to send money home. Attorneys are "recommended" to make up to $200/hour, but that's too high for Moldova's citizenry to pay, he said. Palamarciuc is chairman of the fledgling Young Lawyers Association, which received its charter 18 months ago. It has about 40 members who work on initiatives as part of the 3,000-member Moldovan Bar Association. YLA recently completed a 64-page legal guide, with the assistance of the ABA's Rule of Law Initiative and its representative in Moldova. He was anxious to learn about New Mexico's YLD and got a first hand look during its Mentorship BBQ at UNM, Veterans Civil Justice Initiative, and Speed Networking events. Weekly duties included sending a report to the PFP. "I had the honor to meet Judge Roderick T. Kennedy from the Court of Appeals, who greeted me with the Moldavan Hymn, Limba Noastra, (Our Language)" Palamarciuc wrote. "We discussed the judicial system of the U.S. and certain particularities of the New Mexico system. In the same time, I presented details of the Moldovan judicial system." His interest in the scientific approach to social relations led him to study the law. He said Moldova has similar standards to the U.S. legal system, although his country does not have jury trials. Judges also are not part of the Bar, but are controlled by the government and appointed by its parliament. District judges can make $370/month, while supreme court justices earn up to $600/month. Vladimir spent a day at the New Mexico Supreme Court where he was given a special tour of the facilities and its rich history by Retired Supreme Court Justice Patricio Serna. During the tour, Vladimir met three of the current sitting justices and spoke with them on topics of the judicial system in Moldova and the process for becoming a judge in his country. He learned about New Mexico from the Internet before arriving here and has enjoyed in person our colorful fall activities and deep cultural traditions. He found pueblos interesting from many perspectives, and would like to see how a tribal court administers law. He compared the pueblos' autonomy to that of the Vatican in Rome, an independent entity within a country. Upon completion of his month in New Mexico, Palamarciuc will join 200 other international exchange professionals in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 5 for a congress. During the four-day event, individuals from more than 50 countries will participate in workshops and poster presentations, meet with the ambassador of their home country, and exchange thoughts on their cultural experiences. Palamarciuc would like to come back to New Mexico, and is grateful to the State Bar, UNM staff, and judges for their hospitality.