Attorney Matthew T. Simpson ’04 will return to campus on Monday, March 12, for two speaking engagements. In the afternoon, he will present a workshop on genocide and conflict resolution at 3 p.m. in the Fisher Center. In the evening, he will give a lecture for Career Services on international law and international pro-bono work at 7 p.m. in Stern 103.
“I hope to share with students the positive stories that I have witnessed and experienced where well-intentioned people have made a huge difference in the lives of the persecuted and marginalized,” says Simpson. “I also hope to identify a few areas where our politicians, NGOs, corporations and citizens need to do better to limit the opportunities and motivations for genocide, and at the very least, react more quickly and deliberately when one occurs. All nations and their people have a responsibility to protect, and unfortunately many are failing in their duties.”
Simpson credits HWS with providing him with the interdisciplinary education that led him to become a corporate lawyer by training, yet maintain a focus on human rights and efforts to prevent genocide through his pro bono work. In particular, he credits both Religious Studies Professor Michael Dobkowski and Associate Professor Richard Salter with imparting to him the idea that he could make a difference.
“Both in the classroom and during the March of Remembrance and Hope with Professor Dobkowski in Poland, I began to connect deeply with the notion that we each have a role to play in the struggle to protect those who are persecuted, regardless of who we are or where we come from,” explains Simpson. “Standing at the ruins of a gas chamber in Birkeneau, I grappled emotionally and intellectually with the reality that was before me, and failed to understand how one person could inflict such terror on another human being. I will forever remember that moment.”
In addition to his expertise in the areas of peace-keeping and conflict resolution, Simpson will share his experiences in the legal and international pro-bono fields.
“During his talk for Career Services, Matt Simpson will focus on his experience with HWS and how it impacted his career path, his choices in law practice and the unique structure of working on international crisis and conflict resolution in a private sector setting,” explains Miranda Warder, assistant director of employer development in Career Services.
As a member of the Public International Law & Policy Group (PILPG), a global pro bono firm, Simpson spent the past few years as one of two accredited legal advisers to the Darfurian delegation negotiating a peace agreement with the Government of Sudan as part of the United Nations/African Union Darfur Peace Process. Recently Simpson returned to the private sector, accepting a position in the New York City office of the international business law firm, Torys, LLP, where his practice focuses on international business transactions, private equity, and mergers and acquisitions. At Torys, Simpson hopes to leverage his international background to better enable corporations and investors to reach fragile and developing states through relationships and transactions that benefit both public and private interests.
Simpson got his start at Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP, where he was an associate in the International Trade and Arbitration Practice Group. He then made the move to PILPG, where, before consulting on the Darfur Peace Process, he advised the Iraqi Constitutional Review Commission on the 2007 constitutional amendments, assisted Turkish Northern Cypriots in connection with electoral disenfranchisement claims before the European Court of Human Rights and counseled the Republic of Montenegro on issues related to state secession. Simpson also played a role in the establishment of several PILPG projects responding to the Arab Spring, including in Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya.
A cum laude graduate who majored in economics and critical social studies and minored in mathematics, Simpson was a member of the sailing team, president of his senior class, and a member of Chimera and Orange Key. He graduated with highest honors in economics and was inducted into Omicron Delta Epsilon, the international economics honors society. He went on to earn a law degree and a master’s of international affairs from American University in Washington, D.C.
The events are co-sponsored by the Human Rights and Genocide Symposium and the Salisbury Center for Career Services and Professional Development.