Hospitality and Tourism Law Program Alumni


Participant Testimonials


The Hospitality and Tourism Law program gave me a fascinating introduction into both conventional and alternative legal careers I had never considered. I appreciated how the program was both broad and deep. We gained a broad exposure not only to the work of hotel general counsels, but we also learned about private equity investment, valuation consulting, asset management, private club management, hotel management, gaming regulation, and so much more. We also delved deeply into the intricacies of a hotel franchise agreement, and the relationship between hotel owners, operators, and franchisors.

This information would have been interesting and valuable if it came from only one hotel law professor. However, what made this program exceptional (and fundamentally different from your average law school class) was that we had industry experts teach almost every section. Investors, consultants, club managers, and gaming regulators all gave generously of their time to give us a glimpse into their world. However, it was more than generosity that brought them. Professor Shapiro has personally invested in this program by networking with related professionals, and we students could tell that each of these professionals had a personal connection and respect for him.

As a rising 2L just starting to learn about the available legal career opportunities, the Hospitality and Tourism Law summer program went a long way in showing me how many interesting career opportunities are out there.

It was almost by chance that I learned about the Hospitality and Tourism Law program while studying for finals at Georgetown Law Center. I appreciate that Washington College of Law allowed students from other schools to benefit from this program. I hope that the program can grow and increase its exposure so that more students like myself can learn about and take advantage of the huge learning opportunity it provides.

- Ricky Irizarri, 2014 Program Participant

As a new attorney looking to break into the hospitality law arena, participating in WCL’s Hospitality and Tourism Law Program was the best career decision I have ever made. Hearing firsthand from leading practitioners and industry experts gave me invaluable insight into both the legal and business aspects of hospitality law.

The program instructors were extremely generous with their time and happily willing to answer all of our questions and provide some great tips and career advice. In addition, the volume and depth of material that we covered in one week was tremendous. Over twenty years worth of hospitality law experience was presented to us in a clear, concise, and understandable manner in one short week. I know that I never could have amassed this much industry knowledge anywhere else!

One of my favorite aspects of the program were the group visits to hotels and other networking events in the DC area. For the first time, I really saw what happens behind the scenes of a hotel and heard from the staff firsthand how they make the entire operation run so smoothly.

Last but not least, the best part of the program was Professor Steven Shapiro. His enthusiasm and depth of knowledge truly made this a unique experience. It is rare to find a professor that cares so much about his students and does everything in his power and beyond to help his students succeed. Professor Shapiro could not have done a better job in organizing this program and I hope that the program only grows and expands under his direction in the near future.

- Diana Ovsepian, 2014 Program Participant

As a former participant and student of the Hospitality & Tourism Law Program offered at WCL, I have a few things that I would like to share about my experiences.

As a student, one looks towards practical experiences to glean insight into specific industries to formulate one's own career path. I took this class not for any preconceived interest in the field of law presented, but only to satisfy an intellectual curiosity. As someone who thoroughly enjoyed the contract and property curriculums of my first year of law school, I can confidently say that this program was a great fit for me. I would recommend to any student who enjoyed those two 1L courses to participate in this program. I learned about transactional, intellectual property, real estate, gaming, and franchise law in ways I was not otherwise exposed to throughout 1L. Better yet, I was able to personally meet and connect with lawyers who practice in these fields. I cannot emphasize enough the value of this program for networking opportunities. Instead of practitioners sitting around a table drinking wine and being hounded by students who want nothing more than a job, these guest instructors were able to impart their passions upon impressionable students, such as myself, and engage in meaningful conversation.

What I really appreciated were the many instructors that came to share their knowledge of the industry with the students. Over one week, we were exposed to hundreds of years of experience in the hospitality industry. The presenters, as practitioners with their heels in the mud, were all able to confidently and enthusiastically build a foundation of hospitality law upon which students could engage in their own respective intellectual curiosities.

Not only were the instructors and professors welcoming, but the teaching environment offered a strong sense of camaraderie. Before the end of the first day, I had come to know the majority of the class by their first name. Many students were confident and willing to speak up during the course, so there was never a dull moment. I attribute the success of the team sentiment to the instruction of Steve Shapiro. He effectively engaged all of the students and made them feel welcome and included.

After taking this course, it is clear that D.C. is a vital player in the hospitality industry. For that reason, I have amended my original career goals of construction and government contracting law to include aspects of hotel and tourism law. I originally took this course only to learn something new. I left with a passion to explore new opportunities in what I believe to be a growing field in D.C. I think that this program has a lot to offer for students of WCL and other schools across the nation, and should be promoted as such.

- James E. Rippeon, 2014 Program Participant