Ioannis Petrou, LLM '07, discussed how his life has changed—both professionally and personally—since graduating from the law school.
When Ioannis Petrou, LLM '07, came to the United States to pursue his LLM degree, he did not realize how drastic his life would change, both professionally and personally. Mr. Petrou graduated from law school in Greece but spent the last year of it in Montpellier, France, as an Erasmus scholar. Prior to attending GW Law, he worked in Paris at the European Space Agency for almost two years. Following that experience, he made the decision to move to the United States to specialize in public procurement.
Mr. Petrou wanted to earn an LLM in Government Procurement Law at GW Law—the only program of its kind in the country. "There is a unique feature about this program and the faculty members are wonderful. Professor Schooner and Professor Yukins are experts in both the U.S. and European procurement system, and I knew I would learn so much from them, as well as from Dan Gordon [former Senior Adviser to the Government Procurement Law Program]," he said. Mr. Petrou was awarded a Thomas Buergenthal Scholarship, which covers full or partial tuition. They are awarded to foreign LLM students on the basis of academic merit and financial need. In 2006, he arrived to Washington, D.C., with a bit of culture shock. "When I first arrived, I was completely lost just trying to look for an apartment," he said. "But I remember the joggers around me took the time to stop and were very warm and helpful. I did not expect that, and it was a nice surprise."
Mr. Petrou went on to discuss his experience at the law school. He shared that he had a wonderful time and appreciated how open and "different" GW Law was. "The law school itself was different because of how available the faculty was," he said. "I was surprised at how interactive and participatory the relationship was between faculty members and students, and I am grateful for that." Mr. Petrou also spoke about how he benefited from the resources available to students in their research. For his master's thesis, he wrote a comparative assessment on the European Space Agency's and NASA's procurement system. "Not only did I have the law school's resources at my disposal, but being able to do my research in D.C. was a unique experience due to everything being close by—the Library of Congress is just a few short minutes away from GW Law," Mr. Petrou said.
After he graduated, Mr. Petrou worked for Galileo, a global navigation satellite system that is currently being created by the European Union (EU). It is developed by the European Commission—the executive branch of the EU—in Brussels. Mr. Petrou was involved as a procurement lawyer at Galileo, and after seven years, he moved to Luxembourg where he now works for the corporate services of the European Investment Bank as a contract management specialist. "My degree has definitely shaped my career. Everything that I learned at GW Law is still with me after all of these years," he said.
Although Mr. Petrou is grateful for the scholarship and education he received, he said he will always remember the law school fondly because this is where he met Kristina Janušauskaitė—his wife. Ms. Janušauskaitė, a Lithuanian national, had travelled from Munich for a Max Plank/GW Law conference in 2007. The two have been married for a few years and are parents to two children.
As for the international students thinking about pursing a degree at GW Law, Mr. Petrou said it is "worthwhile." He added, "I had great peers who were open, inviting, and inclusive; to this day, I am friends with a few of them and members of the international student body."
"My own GW Law experience was wonderful, and it was the best year of my life," he said.