This past fall, Thorbjorg Gunnlaugsdottir ’11 LL.M. embarked on an extended American vacation, moving her husband and two daughters from Reykjavik, Iceland, to Manhattan. “Living abroad was something we always wanted to do,” she says. More than just a family adventure, the move gave her the opportunity to explore a newfound field of legal interest: white-collar crime.
In 2008, the global financial crisis crippled Iceland’s economic infrastructure, and the more Gunnlaugsdottir learned about its root causes, the more she realized that much of the nation’s financial predicament was caused by unethical, and sometimes illegal, business activities. She spent this past year at the Law School examining those issues in more depth.
The study of financial corruption presents a significant shift for Gunnlaugsdottir, whose past work centered on the intersection of gender and the law. After graduating from law school in 2005, she worked on domestic violence and assault cases as an assistant prosecutor for the Reykjavik police department, and later as a judicial assistant in Reykjavik District Court. Gunnlaugsdottir first examined the subject as a law student, focusing her thesis on how to broaden Iceland’s sexual assault statutes to better protect victims. In 2007, the Icelandic parliament incorporated her recommendations into the country’s penal code.
At the Law School, Gunnlaugsdottir further explored legal interests both new and old. “This year,” she says with a smile, “was just for me to create my own perfect menu of courses and activities.”