Ana Andžić Tomlinson, a practicing attorney and an adjunct law professor, returned to her native Serbia to present lectures at the University of Belgrade School of Law, the country’s preeminent law school, and the University Union, a high-profile private university. She presented on the role of the judiciary in copyright protection in the United States. She also lectured at the University of Belgrade’s Journalism Department on copyright protection in the U.S. It was a dynamic experience for Andžić Tomlinson, who has taught immigration, intellectual property and international law courses at the UNM School of Law.
The presentations were interactive, followed by question & answer sessions that span across substantive topics beyond the lectures. Andžić Tomlinson faced a variety of questions from audiences that she managed to animate in part because she delivered the lectures and answered questions in the Serbian language. She discovered that, even though Serbo-Croatian is her native tongue, giving lectures with legal terminology was quite an undertaking for someone who had been academically trained in the U.S. since college. The nuances of language and differences in the legal systems in the U.S. and Serbia forced her to choose her words very carefully. For example, the term “veštak” (pronounced veshtack) pops up in dictionaries for an expert witness in the Serbian system. As Andžić Tomlinson points out, the nuanced legal skills she gained at UNM School of Law and the law firm of Freedman Boyd Hollander Goldberg Urias & Ward, P.A. led her to go an extra mile and discover that “veštak” is not akin to an expert witness in the U.S. system given that s/he represents a neutral expert hired by the court, rather than an advocate. Communicating those subtle, yet important, differences made for a more difficult and enlightening experience.
To satisfy her practitioner aspect, Andžić Tomlinson toured some of the busiest courts in the capital, Belgrade, and in Zrenjanin. She witnessed first-hand the ways in which practitioners in Serbia deal with the lingering influence of the communist past and the atrocious transition that followed. She was impressed by legal practitioners’ inventiveness as well as the archives section of the University of Belgrade School of Law’s Library, which has sophisticated and well-preserved collections.
She discovered from her journey that she is equally a New Mexican attorney and a Serbian, and that both places are her home. She is forever grateful to the UNM School of Law for giving her the tools and foundation to practice law and for providing her with teaching opportunities that resulted in a deeper understanding of the law; to the law firm of Freedman Boyd Hollander Goldberg Urias & Ward, P.A. for their tremendous support in her endeavor to present these lectures and for giving her the opportunity to practice law in a manner that gives clarity and courage to put all experiences into the right context, legal and beyond; and to the universities that hosted her in Serbia as she will never forget the experience of giving her first lectures in her native language.
July 10, 2013