Josephina Nance L. Tapia
Before enrolling as an LL.M. student at Columbia Law School, Josephina Nance L. Tapia ’13 LL.M. had already served as an associate at a large international law firm and as a clerk to the chief justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines. But, she says, her favorite part of being a lawyer was not directing deals or drafting opinions—it involved the process of helping others learn and understand the law.
Tapia, who holds an undergraduate degree in secondary education, serves as an adjunct professor at the University of the Philippines College of Dentistry, where she has lectured on contracts, torts, and labor law since 2007.
“Those who are educated have a huge responsibility to pass on what they know,” she says. “For me, being a lawyer gives me a special subject matter to teach, and that makes my practice really important to me.”
Tapia earned a law degree from the University of the Philippines College of Law in 2005. She came to the United States, and specifically, Columbia Law School, to develop a better idea of how other countries practice and teach law. As an LL.M. student, she has studied the substantive tenets of various legal fields, as well as how the law is being taught at a top-flight institution. Tapia pays particular attention to the way her professors conduct classes and how they present materials, in hopes of picking up on specific ideas and strategies she can apply to the classes she leads. “As a teacher, I want to patiently and effectively break down difficult concepts,” she says. “That’s something I strive for at home.”
When she returns to the Philippines, Tapia—who will serve as the elected graduation speaker for this year’s LL.M. class—will resume her teaching role equipped with newfound insight into the American system of legal education. She is certain to continue her own learning, as well.
“I can’t imagine teaching law in a vacuum,” Tapia says. “I want to learn more about what other countries are doing, to see how my country might be able to benefit from the experience and wisdom other countries have acquired.”