Susan Bastress, JD ‘81 Alumni Spotlight

January 13, 2023

Susan Bastress

What inspired you to get involved with the Moot Court program?  

I have participated as an arbitrator in the Spanogle International Commercial Arbitration Competition for over 10 years. I believe I was first nominated by Dean Susan Karamanian, who at that time was Associate Dean for International and Comparative Legal Studies at GW Law School. She knew I had established an office for Squire Patton Boggs in Qatar, where we represented clients in numerous arbitration cases.

How can alumni get involved with the Moot Court program? 

I would contact David Johnson, Assistant Dean for Pro Bono and Advocacy Programs at GW Law School.  

Is there a class or experience during your time as a student that helps you in your career?  

I was SBA President during my second year of law school, which entailed working closely with a new Dean, law faculty and the GWU administration to develop and implement new policies. I loved being an advocate for students which required learning many new skills, including public speaking, negotiation, and diplomacy.

If you could go back in time, what advice would you give to yourself as a 1L?  

I went to law school focused on entering the Department of Interior Solicitor’s Office where I had been accepted into its Honors Program. As a result, I avoided courses I thought were irrelevant to a career in natural resources law. However, the Honors Program was terminated at the time I graduated, thereby launching my 40+ year career in real estate law. This departure into private practice included 10 years in the U.S. Virgin Islands and 6 years in Doha, Qatar.  Knowing now that my life followed a very different path than I had first envisioned, I would have benefited from a broader exposure to courses in business, tax, intellectual property, and international law.

Anything else we have missed that you want to share with us? Why do you give back? Why is connecting with current students important? 

Every year I come away learning more from the students than I could have possibly imparted to them during the judging of their oral arguments. I believe that law students today face greater challenges than were present in 1981 when I graduated. I enjoy talking to the students about their aspirations for careers in law and offering observations based on my own experience.  I am grateful to give back after having an extremely rewarding career in law. And I thank GW Law for that.