Meet three alumni who are turning their South Carolina Law degrees into their ticket abroad and finding success around the globe.
For most of us, the fantasy of picking up our lives and moving to an exotic locale to live, work and broaden our horizons remains just that — a fantasy. But for three South Carolina Law alumni, Chris Campbell, Dayton Riddle, and Susanna Auf der Maur-Quinn, the call of adventure was too strong to be ignored. They turned their dreams into reality and are leaving their mark on the global stage.
Chris Campbell: Working internationally was 'kismet'
Chris Campbell ’15 calls Florence, Italy, home, working as an external international commercial arbitration specialist with Baker Hughes, a GE company. Campbell supports the global litigation and arbitration team to resolve claims or disputes involving BHGE, including everything from conducting legal and business research to drafting pleadings to representing the company before a mediator or arbitral tribunal.
He says an aunt who traveled frequently to Asia and Europe as an importer/exporter introduced him to the possibilities of an international career.
“It was the first time I realized that you could actually make a living from traveling overseas. So, from a pretty young age, I knew three things: I wanted to study law, I wanted to study business, and I wanted to work internationally,” says Campbell, a Columbia native.
“Taking the London Maymester course at Gray’s Inn through the law school was where it really clicked for me, where I was introduced to international dispute resolution and saw how I could actually combine these three things together. It was then that I knew what I wanted to do and how I would get there.”
Campbell credits his law professors for influencing his success, stretching back to his undergraduate days as a student athlete, where he first met Joel Samuels, a professor and director of the university’s Rule of Law Collaborative. The two served together on the University Athletic Advisory Board. At the time, Campbell says he didn't know Samuels was a professor of international law.
“He had already been kind of a mentor to me, and when I told him I was thinking about going to law school and was interested in pursuing international law, well, it was kind of kismet,” Campbell says.
Professors Wadie Said, Aparna Polavarapu, Martin McWilliams and associate dean Eboni Nelson also played a large role in guiding his path, but Campbell says perhaps none of his current success would be possible without Danielle Holley-Walker, former associate dean at South Carolina Law. Holley-Walker, now dean at Howard University School of Law, made it possible for Campbell to spend his third year of law school at Tsinghua University in Beijing, where he earned his master of laws degree in Chinese law and international arbitration, while also applying those credits toward his South Carolina Law degree.
“I really can’t say enough about the support and encouragement this faculty gives to its students. They care, and it really shows,” Campbell says.
Dayton Riddle: Following a Dream
C. Dayton Riddle IV ’14 was born into a family of lawyers, so practicing law was almost a foregone conclusion. However, it was where he chose to practice that has set him apart.
“I’m a third-generation USC Law graduate. Both of my parents, a grandfather, as well as an aunt and a couple of uncles are all alumni, so going to USC Law was the obvious choice for me,” says Riddle, a native of Irmo, South Carolina. “I always thought I would stay in South Carolina. I never dreamed as a 1L that I would be practicing law in one of the most vibrant cities in the world.”
Riddle is now an associate in the Hong Kong office of Harney Westwood & Riegels, a leading off shore law firm with more than 180 lawyers in offices across 12 countries. As a member of the Insolvency and Restructuring team within Harneys' litigation practice, his work focuses on large-scale restructurings and liquidations of corporate clients that are incorporated in the British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands and Bermuda.
“Most of the cases I work on involve international and cross-border activities that impact multiple jurisdictions within the Caribbean, Asia and the rest of the globe,” Riddle says. “It’s a challenge every day, but it has been such a great experience.”
A dual-degree student, Riddle graduated in 2014 with his law degree and an International MBA from the Darla Moore School of Business. As part of the IMBA program, he spent a year learning Mandarin in Beijing, where he fell in love with the region and knew he would someday be back. After a couple years working in management consulting in San Francisco, he realized the dream of returning to Asia had not diminished.
“I made the decision that if I was going to go, it was now or never,” Riddle says.
So, he started submitting applications and landed a management consulting position in Hong Kong. Following several successful years in consulting, he was ready for a new challenge and decided to return to the practice of law. Networking and making connections in Hong Kong led to the opportunity at Harneys, which he says has been a great experience that has allowed him to learn and grow as a lawyer and to work on intense and interesting cases.
Riddle says that South Carolina Law helped prepare him for success by changing his thought process, especially when it comes to tackling complex problems.
“USC Law taught me how to look at things in a more critical way, and it fundamentally shifted the way I approach not only my work, but also my life. In particular, professor Jim Burkhard’s corporations class is still very relevant to me. His class pushed me and gave me an invaluable foundation of knowledge that I still use every day,” Riddle says.
“Had I not decided to move to Hong Kong, I honestly believe I would not be realizing my full potential today. My experiences at USC and my law degree opened a lot of doors for me. But I had to put in the work to take advantage of those opportunities. Ultimately, it’s up to you to go out and follow your dreams.”
EDITOR'S NOTE: This article was written before the current unrest in Hong Kong began. We recently checked in with Dayton who reports that he is safe and doing well.
Susanna Auf der Maur-Quinn: Developing economic and cultural ties
Susanna Auf der Maur-Quinn ‘97 was born in Lugoff, South Carolina, but just one year after she graduated from law school, she made the jump to Europe and has spent the past 20 years building her career in Germany and Switzerland. She says it was the fulfillment of a childhood dream.
“My family spent a summer touring Europe when I was 11 years old, and I knew then that I wanted to learn German and work abroad,” Auf der Maur-Quinn says. “I went to USC and majored in international relations with a minor in German, and I was fortunate that the law school had just started its joint-degree with the Moore School. I was one of the first students to graduate through the J.D./Master of International Business program.”
Her first job was with the South Carolina Export Consortium, consulting with South Carolina companies looking to do business overseas. She married a fellow MIBS student and moved to Cologne, Germany, where she continued working with the Export Consortium, but also became the international sales and marketing director for Global Trade Information Services, an organization headquartered in Columbia that also helped businesses expand internationally.
Over the course of her career, Auf der Maur-Quinn has worked for Beiersdorf, the parent company to several name brand cosmetic companies such as NIVEA and Eucerin, as well as at Kraft Food Group.
Her current position as a partner with Kaufmann Rüedi Attorneys at Law in Lucerne has brought her back to her first love: building bridges between her home country and her new home.
As the director of the U.S. desk, she works to bring foreign corporations to the region and supports them as they get established.
“I am most passionate about finding ways to bring the U.S. and Switzerland together and have supported countless U.S. delegations and even our current U.S. ambassador to Switzerland in developing economic and cultural ties between these two great countries,” she says.
One of the keys to Auf der Maur-Quinn’s success is her ability to connect in multiple languages. “I received excellent legal writing instruction from professor Patrick Hubbard. Writing and delivering a clear message has been crucial in every position I’ve held,” she says. “But it also gives me so much joy to communicate with my Swiss colleagues, friends and family in their native tongue. The level of trust that develops professionally and personally when you speak someone’s language is often underestimated by Americans.”
While half a world away, Auf der Maur-Quinn still feels strong ties to the university that helped her get her start and says some of her favorite moments are when the neighborhood kids in her small village come over to watch Gamecock football or basketball.
“Although I always knew I wanted to live abroad, I have always been a Carolina girl at heart.”