Alumni News

In his first job after law school, Michael Abejuela, L’03, sometimes had to identify the people or business entities lurking behind websites. For this, he turned to WHOIS, a service offered by the American Registry for Internet Numbers. ARIN is a nonprofit that provides internet service providers and end users with the internet number resources they need to gain access to the internet; only five regional internet registries exist worldwide.

Years later, Abejuela is now associate general counsel for ARIN.

“This is the best job I’ve ever had,” he says. “It’s a balance between doing cutting-edge, thought-provoking work without killing myself. I have a well-rounded life with time for other pursuits.”

The job is a comfortable blend of tasks, Abejuela says. For nearly two years, as he handled general in-house issues relating to contracts and human resources, he also worked on an international oversight issue involving the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, and its stewardship of the internet domain name system technical functions, known as the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority. Until recently, IANA functions were managed by the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration, or NITA. As these functions transitioned to the private sector, ICANN worked with global stakeholders to submit a proposal for a new governance model that met strict criteria set forth by the NTIA.

“The internet community had to come up with a clear proposal as to how, post-transition, the oversight of the IANA functions can be managed and operate well,” he says.

While the project took him to far-flung locales — Singapore, Mauritius, Buenos Aires, Helsinki — he said his contributions weren’t as technical as some might expect. “The big thing is picking up the legal issues: strategy, issue-spotting, troubleshooting,” he says. “There was a lot of successful collaboration with people from all over the world.”

In January, Abejuela participated in a panel discussion hosted by the career development office exploring the role of in-house counsel. “Initially, the idea of public speaking freaked me out,” he says. “I was never a speaker or a social person.”

He says he was happy to return because he credits Richmond Law for helping him become a more rounded person both personally and professionally. Becoming involved in the client counseling and negotiating competition and the law fraternity Phi Alpha Delta made a huge impact.

“Any school is going to teach you about constitutional law, but to me it was all the other stuff I got from UR,” he says.