Honorable Robert M. Evans speaks to law students.October 01, 2009
The Honorable Robert M. Evans of the Ninth Judicial Circuit of Florida addressed students at an event hosted by the International Law Society and the Center for Career & Professional Development at Liberty University School of Law on Friday, September 25, 2009.
Prior to his judicial career, Judge Evans had an extensive career in international law. He represented aviation companies and completed transactions with heads of state including the Sultan of Brunei and King Juan Carlos of Spain. He has also traveled to Egypt, Pakistan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey and has bought and sold transport-category aircrafts all over the world. He regaled the audience with the stories of his travels and of high-class planes, one with the first Jacuzzi installation and another with a specially-commissioned conference table made of 14 karat gold that held 15 pounds of diamonds under its glass top.
Judge Evans also shared three principles for the practice of
• Learn the Law. He explained that it is crucial for lawyers
not to fake their understanding of a situation in the
international arena. “Don’t be afraid to ask for an
explanation,” he told the students. “Most attorneys
are willing to help you and will appreciate that you took
the time to ask.”
• Know the Country. Each country interprets the law
differently and some governments may operate in ways
that can significantly challenge your purpose.
• Know the People. Judge Evans explained that his job was not to question the
culture or expect to change it. He said, “My job was to understand the culture and
then facilitate a transaction,” citing a time he had to step in when one of the clients
refused to work with a female attorney from the United States.
He emphasized that international transactions are dependent on a comprehensive understanding of two things. First, lawyers must be aware of each country’s currency, and whether it is hard (exchangeable) or soft (not exchangeable). Second, insurance or sureties are essential to international contracts as they protect the parties’ interests. Furthermore, in his practice, he insisted that all transactions be completed with English-written contracts, and he always hired his own interpreter to work with him to avoid any confusion or misguided loyalty during the transactions.
Judge Evans took the time to encourage those
students who are concerned about their job
searches in this economy. “The beauty of your
legal education is that when you get your
degree, it is the key that can never be taken
away from you. It can open doors everywhere,
and by default, you’ll become an expert in
whatever it is you’re dealing with at that time.
Your first job is often a stepping stone to the
next one—don’t be afraid to make a career
change when it’s right.”
Judge Evans earned his Juris Doctor from Florida State University in 1985
and began his legal career with Page Avjet Corporation. He was also the Senior Vice President and General Counsel for Signature Flight Support Corporation. In addition to international law, Judge Evans has experience in family, juvenile, criminal, and civil law and currently teaches an adoption class at Barry School of Law.