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Thorbjorg Gunnlaugsdottir

Changing Course

By Mary Johnson

Fall 2010

This past fall, Thorbjorg Gunnlaugsdottir ’11 LL.M. [pronounced THOR-bee-org GUHN-logs-daughter] embarked on an extended American vacation, moving her family of four from Reykjavik to Manhattan. “Living abroad was something we always wanted to do,” she says. More than just a family adventure, the move gave her the opportunity to explore a newfound field of legal interest: white-collar crime.

In 2008, the global financial crisis crippled Iceland’s economic infrastructure, and the more Gunnlaugs–dottir learned about its root causes, the more she realized that much of the nation’s financial predicament was caused by unethical, and sometimes illegal, business activities. She now plans to examine those issues in more depth during her time at the Law School.

The study of financial corruption presents a significant shift for Gunnlaugsdottir, whose past work centered on the intersection of gender and the law. After graduating from law school in 2005, she worked on domestic violence and assault cases as a prosecutor for the Reykjavik police department, and later as a judicial assistant in Reykjavik District Court. Gunnlaugsdottir first examined the subject as a law student, focusing her thesis on how to broaden Iceland’s sexual assault statutes to better protect victims. In 2007, the Icelandic parliament incorporated her recommendations into the country’s penal code.

At the Law School, Gunnlaugsdottir intends to further explore legal interests both new and old. “This year,” she says with a smile, “is just for me to create my own perfect menu of courses and activities.”