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Bulgarian LLM Student Yana Kostova Shares Thoughts on the City, Working at the Mayor’s Office, and Cincinnati Red’s Opening Day


UC Law’s nine-month LLM program is designed to introduce internationally trained lawyers to the U.S. legal system.  One of the reasons the program is so attractive to many students is because of its flexibility. Some students can take advantage of a number of practical experiences with the various centers and institutes at the college and throughout the city.  That was a bonus for current LLM student Yana Kostova.

Kostova grew up in Bulgaria, where she lived and studied through high school.  When she turned 18, she moved to England, studying law at the University of the West of England in Bristol, working toward an LLB degree. Her focus was commercial law.  Kostova gained experience working in the legal department of the Bank of Ireland before making the decision to move to the United States.

While she considered moving to California where her sister lived, Kostova ultimately decided to begin her journey in Ohio.  “It is not the biggest city, but at the same time it gives you a lot of the things to do that you can do in bigger cities like New York or Chicago,” she said about the Queen City.  Kostova added that the people are very nice here and the weather is a bit better than what she experienced in England.  In her spare time, she plays tennis with UC’s club team.  She played professionally as a child and is happy she is able to keep tennis as a hobby while in law school.

Prepping to Study US Law

While Kostova did not study law in her native Bulgaria, the transition to studying the field in the US was easy because of the similarities between English and American law, she commented.  She also honed her skills reading and speaking English while in England, preparing her even more for studying in this country. After earning her LLM this spring, Kostova plans to continue to practice in the commercial law field in New York as she did while in England.  But her time at the college has opened her eyes to other possible avenues for her career. 

Kostova is currently interning with Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley’s office.  “I wanted to work on establishing contacts and to develop my networking and interpersonal skills,” she shared of her goals with her internship.  “But since working there, I have begun to find an interest in civil rights.”  She noted that this area of law, in particular, is much different than her prior experiences. The internship also surprised her by introducing her to her first Opening Day parade.  “It was my first parade – I had no idea what I was supposed to do,” she explained with a smile and a laugh.  Kostova has also developed an interest in public interest work. She feels that it affords attorneys the opportunity to establish a work-life balance as opposed to some firm jobs where attorneys may work twelve-hour days. 

Kostova offered some advice for students considering the LLM program in the future:  “If you are unsure of what you want to specialize in, this is a good problem to have.  The LLM program can be tailored to what you are interested in, and the externship programs allow you to get some practical experience to help you decide.”