When Victor Ruiz decided to leave Mexico to enroll in Pepperdine's Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution, he had no idea he would end up in Paris, France, at the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Court of Arbitration.
Born in California, Ruiz grew up in Baja California, Mexico, where he attended university and law school at the Universidad AutÃ³noma de Baja California. During law school he read a book on arbitration, which planted the seeds for a future career in alternative dispute resolution. Upon graduation, Ruiz entered the traditional world of commercial litigation as attorney at Sanchez, Aguilar, Esquer, & Cia, but after five years, he was ready for a change.
His search for arbitration programs led him to Pepperdine's Straus Institute because of its Number One ranking by U.S News and World Report. He enrolled in the LL.M. program in 2006, and found the professors to be "really open to questions." The Straus program afforded him numerous opportunities, such as a research assistantship in international commercial arbitration with Professor Jack Coe and mentorship from Professors Coe, Stipanowich, Robinson, and Alford.
With the help of Straus professors' letters of recommendation, Ruiz landed a coveted internship at the ICC in Paris, in July 2007. He completed the internship in two months but stayed in Paris for another six months when the internship led to another important step on his path--a job as an attorney with international arbitration group at Shearman & Sterling, LLP.
In February 2008, Ruiz returned to Southern California to finish his LL.M. degree at the Straus Institute. Just a few months later, the ICC invited him to interview for a permanent position.
They flew him to Paris for the interview and distilled eight candidates down to one: Ruiz. "I am still in disbelief," he says. "This is a dream come true." Beginning this October, he will be one of four counsel on the Latin American Team, overseeing arbitrations that involve Latin American parties or are seated in Latin America.
Ruiz, who speaks Spanish, English, French, and would like to learn Italian, is thrilled to be headed back to Paris for the next 2-3 years. "I'm really grateful to all my Straus professors," he says. "I came to Pepperdine to change my career, and now I'm headed to the leading arbitration institute in the world."
by Emily DiFrisco