Jean Garland ('82)

Alum of the Month Nov '13

Gloria Jean Garland received a BS in journalism and a BA in French from the University of Colorado and then went on to receive her JD from Colorado Law in 1982. Following law school, Garland moved to San Francisco and began her career at the law firm Furth, Fahrner, Bluemle & Mason. After three years at the firm, she headed to the Free University of Brussels in Belgium, where she obtained an LLM in international and comparative law.  Returning to the Bay Area, she became an associate attorney with the firm Crosby, Heafey, Roach and May (now Reed Smith Crosby Heafey) from 1987 to 1993 where she was a trial attorney specializing in labor and employment litigation. 

In 1993, Garland volunteered to serve under the American Bar Association’s Central and East European Law Initiative (CEELI, now the Rule of Law Initiative, ROLI) and spent six months as the first ABA / CEELI liaison to Slovakia, where she worked with the fledgling Slovak Judges Association and others promoting judicial and legal reforms.  Garland returned to Palo Alto in 1994 and worked for the law firm of Kay and Stevens on labor and employment issues for six months, but by then, the international development bug had bitten her.  She jumped at the opportunity to return to Slovakia, this time as a rule of law advisor for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).  In 1997, she established the European Office of the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law in Budapest, Hungary, funded by USAID’s “Democracy Network” program, whose purpose was to support civil society in the new democracies of Eastern Europe by developing legal frameworks that would allow nonprofit organizations to establish and operate.  The Open Society Institute then recruited her to serve as the Legal Director for the European Roma Rights Center, an international organization that defended the human rights of the Roma (Gypsies) throughout Europe.  In that capacity, she oversaw 30 cases brought before the European Court of Human Rights and various UN Bodies and conducted numerous training workshops for lawyers and public officials on the European Convention on Human Rights.

In 2006, Garland returned to USAID in Washington, DC, where she worked for the Latin America and Caribbean Bureau and provided technical support for rule of law and human rights programs for USAID missions throughout the region.  She spent two months living in a tent on the U.S. Embassy compound in Haiti after the devastating 2010 earthquake, serving as acting director of the USAID Democracy and Governance Office, and later conducting an assessment of the Haitian justice sector and designing a program to strengthen judicial capacity and independence.  In 2011, she joined the diplomatic corps as a Foreign Service Officer and then served as the Rule of Law Team Leader for USAID at the US Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, working on justice reform issues in both the formal and informal sectors, as well as supporting the Afghan Human Rights Commission.  In 2012, she transferred to the U.S. Embassy in Bogota, Colombia, where she serves as the Deputy Director for the Office of Vulnerable Populations (OVP).  OVP manages US government-funded programs assisting victims of the civil conflict, supporting reintegration of former combatants, and focusing on economic opportunities for Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities.  Garland is married to Bruce Byers and they have two cats.

Five Questions for Jean Garland

What is your fondest memory of being a student at Colorado Law?

My fondest memories are social ones.  I remember the Spring Fling and dancing the night away and then ending up with a bunch of classmates at Time Out Baths, sitting in an outdoor hot tub and looking at the stars on a clear but cold Boulder night.  I also remember being in the cast performing Gilbert and Sullivan’s Trial by Jury for the Colorado Bar Convention back in 1980 or so.  Great time!

What do you know now that you wish you had known in law school?

Too many things to list . . . mostly involving priorities.

What advice would you give to current students as they’re preparing to graduate?

It’s important to do work that you can feel passionate about. If you’re not excited about the job you have, but you need to keep it because you need the money, find an outside activity that you can pour your passions into.

Who was the biggest influence on your career? 

The first partner I worked for at Crosby, Heafey, Roach, and May.  Instead of giving me answers to my questions, he would tell me where to find them and make me do it myself.  He also always set high standards and insisted on excellence.  He was tough, but fair. 

Of what accomplishment are you most proud?

When the European Court of Human Rights incorporated verbatim in its decision the arguments I’d advanced in a landmark discrimination case (Nachova v. Bulgaria).