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Gary F. Collins

Gary F. Collins, J.D. '87, has had a lengthy legal career, working in troubled countries around the world.

First, I want to point out that the UB School of Law was very good for me. I was a day student and enjoyed the fact that law can be viewed from many different perspectives. A positive aspect of a legal education is that one learns most things are relative. This is good training for one living in foreign land, usually with a foreign language, culture, cuisine, etc. Almost everything is different and there is always something positive in that.

I left the U.S. four months after being sworn into the Maryland Court of Appeals. Three months before that, I took a direct commission as a first lieutenant in the Army. I wanted to live in Europe and I did. Later, I left the Army through what was called a European out, meaning that I processed out in Italy and worked for a while in a legal firm in Milan. I did commercial work―contracts, waivers of liability, etc. Pretty boring stuff. But I was a father by then and I had a family to support.

I then joined the United Nations and went to Jerusalem at the start of the first intifada. Then I worked for the UN in the former Yugoslavia and Afghanistan, and for USAID and the Danish government in Bangladesh and Bosnia.

Much of the work that I did, while in the profession of the law, had a political tinge. That always appealed to me. I became a lawyer but I toyed with the idea of being a professor of history or philosophy. So I felt much more overall job satisfaction because my legal work flowed into the decision making in a volatile political situation. There have been a few times in my life that the leading news on TV is what I was working on that day. That is a rush and it can assuage the times where I was living in places without any social services, no garbage pickup, or a lack of security. It was not always the case, but living on the edge seemed to be the norm.

When I went to law school, between 1984 and ’87, there was not much emphasis on international law. I chose the most common and easiest way to skip off to Europe. I know that UB has made significant changes since I was a student and much of that is from the work of Professor Tim Sellers. He has opened a door to students. Public international law is broad enough that it covers subjects that historians, political scientists and simple current affairs geeks can get into.  

I was very fortunate. I was able to be with organizations or companies that were often at the center of important world events in the Middle East, Afghanistan and the Balkans. Now I have taken a deviation professionally and am managing a project in Dhaka, Bangladesh to save the Royal Bengal tigers. I am enjoying the work, and am hopeful that we will have some impact on tiger conservation. It is extremely important for our biosphere.

Last Published 7/14/17