Brenda Efurhievwe ’21 LL.M.: Becoming an Instrument for Change

A member of the January 2021 LL.M. cohort, Efurhievwe shares how Columbia Law helped her build on her experience helping asylum seekers and what the law means to her.

Hometowns: Wroclaw, Poland; London

Law for me is . . . “an instrument for change: a tool that can be used either with blunt force against individuals and populations or a tool that can be used as a shield to protect those whose rights were abused in some way or circumvented. And it’s the reason that I am here in the U.S. is to learn how to wield this tool in the best way possible, particularly in relation to international law, so that one day maybe I can also effect change.”

Before Columbia: Efurhievwe has law degrees from BPP Law School (London), University of Wroclaw (Poland), and University of Surrey (Guildford, United Kingdom) and attended Columbia Law’s LL.M. program as a Fulbright scholar. She has experience representing global investment banks and serving as a caseworker helping asylum seekers in the U.K. and Greece.

Law School experiences: Efurhievwe joined the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic and helped a client seeking asylum in the United States. “I’m very happy that I can use all of this experience and ensure that this client that I got to know really well over the last couple of months has the best possible chance of securing refugee status in this country,” she says. “It’s not only that I get to hone my advocacy skills, and I get to become a better lawyer; it’s that [I] actually have the satisfaction of knowing what I do matters, and I was able to help someone. That’s probably the best feeling in the world.” 

Fun fact: Though Efurhievwe claims she “absolutely cannot sing,” she signed up for Law Revue, the irreverent student group that produces and performs musical satire, and participated in two songs. “I had an amazing time,” she says.

Honors and activities: Human Rights fellow; LL.M. editor, The American Review of International Arbitration; Law Revue cast member; law student intern, Immigrants’ Rights Clinic.

Next steps: Brenda is part of the January 2021 LL.M. program cohort and will graduate from Columbia Law School in October 2021. After graduation, Efurhievwe will be completing pupillage at Matrix Chambers in London.