A native of Kyrgyzstan, Merim Razbaeva ’13 LL.M. speaks frankly about the corruption that can plague the small Central Asian nation that is home to about 5.5 million people. The country has experienced two political revolutions in the past seven years, and, she notes, in the midst of instability, some government officials have taken to enriching themselves at the expense of the greater good.
“If the government won’t defend the public interest,” she says, “it’s necessary to put rules in place to make sure investment in Kyrgyzstan’s emerging market is in the interest of the country.”
As an attorney at the University of Central Asia, an international treaty–based organization, Razbaeva encountered difficulty in getting answers from government agencies on questions about taxation and implementation of the treaty. “I understood that I didn’t have enough knowledge, but there was no one to talk to or ask for advice,” she says. Razbaeva decided to take matters into her own hands by pursuing an LL.M. at Columbia Law School. During her first days on campus, she attended a discussion on international investment law. After the event, Razbaeva approached one of the speakers to chat. She was excited to find that the panelist had not only visited Kyrgyzstan, but also advised the country on its successful efforts to join the World Trade Organization.
At the Law School, she has focused on gaining the legal expertise necessary to facilitate development in the Eurasian region. “I’m looking forward to practicing at an international law firm and working across multiple legal systems,” Razbaeva says.