Fordham Law alumnus Matt Solomon ’14 helped to organize a high-level meeting between U.S. business leaders and Myanmar political leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi during her visit to Washington D.C. last month.
Solomon helped organize the agenda for Aung San Suu Kyi’s visit as part of his work as a manager with the US-ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Business Council, an organization that encourages investment between the United States and the countries of Southeast Asia. The council, along with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, organized a dinner for Aung San Suu Kyi at which representatives from major U.S. companies discussed the future of U.S. investment in Myanmar.
“The event came one day after President Obama announced the lifting of U.S. sanctions on Myanmar, so it was an honor to play a small role in heralding a new era of our countries’ relationship,” said Solomon. “She’s also a personal hero, so it was exciting to meet and talk to her.”
Coordinating the economic relationship between U.S. investors and Myanmar, which is developing rapidly as Myanmar’s decades-long sequestration from the international community draws to a close, forms one of the principal challenges of Solomon’s job.
“The main focus of my work is analyzing political, legal, and economic developments in Southeast Asia,” said Solomon. “I focus specifically on Myanmar and Thailand to support U.S. investment by providing trade policy advocacy with those governments.”
Solomon says that his internationally-oriented career testifies to the array of possible job opportunities available to those holding a law degree. He credits Fordham Law’s Leitner Center for International Law and Justice with an essential role in having forged his unique professional path.
“The Leitner Center was a primary factor in my decision to go to Fordham,” said Solomon. “I came into law school with a clear idea of the knowledge and experience I wanted, and it was not to go the traditional law firm route. Instead I wanted to gain real-world experience on international legal policy development work. Because of that I really threw myself into the Leitner Center and its various programs, and a lot of that was made possible by the active mentorship of Joey Lee and Elisabeth Wickeri.”
Lee, a senior fellow with the Leitner Center’s Asia Law and Justice Program, and Wickeri, executive director of the Leitner Center and director of the Asia Law and Justice Program, helped Solomon take advantage of the Leitner Center’s multiple programs for legal scholars studying in the field of international human rights. Under their tutelage, Solomon participated in the Center’s Crowley Program in International Human Rights, which saw him both performing legal scholarship and traveling in-country to conduct an investigation into the legal rights of people with disabilities of Rwanda.
“I think what the Leitner Center does very well is it gives you a lot of exposure to desk-based research,” Solomon said, “but then also offers opportunities for real, on-the-ground experience.”
Following his graduation from Fordham, Solomon secured a Fulbright-Clinton Public Policy Fellowship, which allowed him to spend ten months in Myanmar supporting legal reform in the technology sector, including by drafting three new laws. His work has since focused on drawing U.S. investment to Southeast Asia, with a special emphasis on the region’s information and communications technology sectors. Solomon also helps draft policy recommendations for Southeast Asian governments, with the objective of creating frameworks for high-quality foreign investment in those countries.
“I use my legal training every day,” Solomon said. “It’s not in the traditional way, but I think that, because of the experience I got at Fordham and the Leitner Center, I’m able to use those skills and experience to make an impact.”