Community, travel and the law are three passions new University of North Dakota School of Law Professor Christyne J. Vachon has successfully intertwined throughout her career. Her yearning for adventure, love of the law and desire to contribute to her community have already taken her in several directions that not even she could have dreamed of.
In fall of 2012, Vachon joined the UND Law faculty as a Visiting Professor of Law. This year, she has been hired to a tenure track position as an Assistant Professor of Law. Vachon teaches in the area of business law, and her scholarship focuses on the law applicable to for-profit and nonprofit corporations and international business.
Vachon's original aspirations did not include the law. Instead, the Boston native went to college in pursuit of a career as an orthopedic surgeon. With some persuasion from her father, she set her sites on Wellesley College where she obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science in addition to Pre-Medical Studies. After completing her studies at Wellesley, she worked for a period of time in Boston and became intrigued with the law. Her attraction eventually brought her to the University of Denver, Sturm College of Law where she completed her J.D. While in Law School, Vachon was a Chancellor Scholar and editor for the University of Denver Law Review and the Journal of International Law and Policy. She received the Leonard v. B Sutton Award for International Law and a certification of study from The Hague Academy of International Law. Professor Vachon also clerked for Judge Morris B. Hoffman on the Colorado District Court prior to starting her practice working as an attorney.
While a student, Vachon participated in a semester long internship with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Division of Enforcement. The internship turned into a full-time counsel position, which she kept for the next seven years. She said it was a fantastic and rare opportunity for a recent law grad to be given their own cases. " I felt like I had landed the ideal job, and I felt sorry for my peers [suffering in firms]." She added, "It was a great experience."
She received a Fulbright Grant to teach Securities Law and Business Communication. She set her sights on Mongolia due to the country's transition from a communist country to a parliamentary system with a capital market. "Another reason I applied to go to Mongolia was a horse," she said. Specifically she yearned to see the Przewalski horse, a rare and endangered subspecies of wild horse. Prior to her Fulbright experience, she decided to take a trip around the world. Her travels led her to South America, Eastern Europe, Asia and the United Kingdom before settling in Mongolia for half a year. During her time in Mongolia she taught undergraduate and graduate classes, conducted research on the Mongolian securities market, and consulted with the Mongolian Stock Exchange and the Institute of Finance and Economics. Vachon frequently recommends the Fulbright opportunity to her students and is an avid believer that you can have the experience no matter what stage of your career you are in. "It is one of those experiences I wish I could do again and again and again."
Following her Fulbright experience, Vachon returned home to Massachusetts where she worked in-house for a venture capital fund followed by becoming a solo practitioner. It was during this time that she also began teaching as an Adjunct Professor at Northeastern University. "When I started adjunct teaching it solidified my appreciation for the career as well as my enjoyment and ability to work with students," said Vachon.
Her first full-time, law school faculty position brought her to Knoxville, Tennessee where she began a Fellowship for the Clayton Center for Entrepreneurial Law at the University of Tennessee, College of Law. While she was there, she taught Business Associations and a Seminar on 'Doing Business Abroad'. "It was exhausting; it was brutal, but it was fun. Fun in kind of a workaholic way," she joked.
A visitorship at the University of Nebraska brought her to the Midwest. She attended The Association of American Law Schools annual meeting where she met Professor Julia Ernst who recruited her to the University of North Dakota School of Law. Professor Vachon admits that her first North Dakota winter was a difficult adjustment. However, even in this small, Midwest City, hundreds of miles from the East coast, she still feels at home. "There are so many similarities to the open space that you have here to that of the ocean. The movement of the fields is very much like the movement of the ocean," she said. " It's a beautiful place, absolutely beautiful."
Professor Vachon has nothing but ambition when looking at her future at UND School of Law. "My big goal is to be able to do the job really well," she said. She plans on accomplishing this by reaching as many students as possible, working well with her colleagues and developing a very strong body of scholarship.
She enjoys reading, horseback riding, painting, running, swimming, and biking. Vachon is a certified yoga instructor as well as an animal lover and advocate for rescue adoptions. Her desire to travel has not diminished. Her plans always include volunteer work as it "makes the travel more interesting." Bhutan, Burma, Chile, Uganda, and Antarctica are just a sampling of places she would like to go next. "I want to continue to make a difference in my community, whether it's global or local."
Professor Vachon lives in Grand Forks with her significant other, David Osborne, and their three dogs (all rescues).