Wayne Law alumnus practices international business law in Paris

In the eyes of many a law student, Mark Sadoff is living the dream.

Based in Paris, the 1986 alumnus of Wayne State University Law School practices international business law as a partner with Shubert Collin Associates.

“After a long part of my career spent in-house at multinational corporations based in France, I have recently returned to private practice as a partner in a French law firm in Paris,” Sadoff said. “Shubert Collin is a French law firm founded in 1990 by an American lawyer. International operations is part of its DNA. We are a full-service firm serving predominately American clients with important assets in Europe and French clients in a wide range of international operations. A substantial part of our practice is devoted to advising foreign companies with respect to their operations within or in relation to France.”

Sadoff also serves as an adjunct professor at the Institut Léonard de Vinci, teaching advanced-degree business students about purchasing agreements.

He studied international business law when he was at Wayne Law, but even before then, he was interested in France.

“I grew up in East Lansing, son of a professor of microbiology,” Sadoff said. “I was lucky to be the youngest child with older siblings. As such, when my father’s career hit its stride, I had the opportunity to travel with my parents, including a full summer in France when I was about 11.”

He studied French in middle school and high school, but acquired better language skills on the job, living in France.

“I really learned once I got here and was required to speak every day,” Sadoff said. “I continue to make minor mistakes, much to the delight of my children, who were both born here (in France). Beyond that, through my work and travels, I have learned a few words in a lot of different languages but cannot always dredge up the right word at the right time.”

After law school graduation in 1986, Sadoff worked in Detroit for the former Butzel Keidan Simon Meyers and Graham.

“In 1987, I took a job as attorney-advisor in the Office of the Chief Counsel for Import Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce in Washington, D.C.,” he said. “From there, I took a job in France with a subsidiary of the Saint-Gobain Group in eastern France. Afterward, I moved to the Paris area as chief contracts counsel before being asked to return to Saint-Gobain as divisional general counselor for the Insulation Activity of the Distribution Sector. Since the beginning of this year, I am back to private practice with Shubert Collin.”

He traveled widely during his nearly 25 years with worldwide Saint-Gobain.

“As I was traveling around in my job, I decided that for each country I would learn about 11 words — hello, goodbye, please, thank you, one, two, beer, wine and ‘the same thing as him.’ That worked pretty well until I hit Finland, where I went often, but learned nothing,” he said.

Sadoff knows that for some law students, a career like his in international law is indeed a dream vocation.

“I know from my own experience that there is a dream and idealism set up around anything with the words ‘international law,’ and I think that idealism is important,” he said.

His advice for students who wish to make a career in international law:

“Be open — open to differences, social, linguistic, cultural, legal, etc. — and, most importantly, open to learning.

Be clear — Where do you want to go? What can you reasonably expect to do?

Be determined — Of course, this applies to everything you do or want to do.”

7 questions with Mark Sadoff

Q: In general, what are some of the key differences between French law and American law?

The key difference that most people will see and feel is that France, as a civil law system, legislates about everything. Of course, as a major member of the European Union since its founding (but for how much longer after Brexit?), a large percentage of the legislation has come from the EU legislative system, such as transposition of directives. Beyond that, the major shocks in the French legal system for an American stand in the areas of labor law — the codification of French labor law runs to about 1,500 pages — and distribution.

Q: Why did you choose to go to law school, and why did you choose Wayne Law?

I went to a liberal arts college (Haverford) and have an undergraduate degree in economics. I looked for the type of further education that would continue to leave a maximum number of options open. My goal when I started thinking about law school was to pass the bar and to work as a lawyer for a few years before doing something different. Law, as I have practiced it, has provided a good means to get paid for doing what I enjoy.

I grew up in Michigan and went east for college. While I was not very interested in moving back to the Midwest, I felt that Wayne Law provided an extremely good option — good reputation, good faculty, good value. In the end, Wayne Law provided me with much greater opportunities than I ever imagined. I had the opportunity to meet very good and interesting professors and good students from a variety of backgrounds.

Q: What memories are most outstanding to you from your law school years?

What I remember the most, other than a few professors, is the camaraderie. A number of people from my first-year law class are among those I feel the closest to.

Q: If not law, what career might engage your interest?

If I did not do law, I would do something completely different, but, for now, law is just fine. There are a lot of things I would love to try my hand at, including making a movie and making wine.

Q: What is something people generally don’t know about you, but should?

I am a pretty clear guy who is generally a lot more determined than people expect.

Q: What was your very first job?

When I was a kid, I mowed a lot of lawns and shoveled a lot of snow. My first job where I paid FICA was at McDonald’s.

Q: What are some of your favorite books, movies and other pastimes?

I love reading, but find it hard to stay awake. I have read so many books, though, that it is extremely difficult and unfair to have a favorite. In terms of movies, I love the small indie cinemas, small indie films. That being said, I also like the Coen Brothers and Tarantino, and when on a plane, a good Bond or other action film passes the time brilliantly. For other pastimes, I play cello in a chamber orchestra and with a rock band, and I enjoy sports. I try a long-distance bike trip every couple of years. I watch baseball when in the United States and mostly rugby in Europe.