A decade ago, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg provided Zehra G. Kavame Eroglu a prescient piece of advice during a two-week summer school law course she taught in Istanbul. Attend an American law school for an advanced degree, the revered American judge encouraged the Turkey native, who was at the time considering studying in England.
Eroglu credits Justice Ginsburg’s support for putting her on a path that resulted this fall in her becoming the fifth Fordham Law student to graduate from its S.J.D. program. Eroglu successfully defended her doctoral dissertation outlining why countries choose whether or not to adopt International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), a single set of accounting standards now mandated by more than 100 countries but not the United States.
For Eroglu, who grew up in a Turkish border town, her S.J.D. achievement is a source of great personal pride and further proof that Justice Ginsburg was right. At Fordham Law School, Eroglu found the opportunities and diversity Ginsburg had predicted years earlier she would find in the U.S.
“What made Fordham a great place to study were the great advisors, librarians, and professors who supported my research and ideas,” Eroglu said, praising her advisor Professor Martin Gelter, Professors Sean J. Griffith and Thomas H. Lee, and Toni M. Jaeger-Fine, assistant dean of international and non-J.D. programs. “Everybody was amazingly helpful,” Eroglu noted.
During her S.J.D. candidacy, Eroglu researched and produced scholarship on the relationship between accounting and the law, a topic that is rarely addressed in American law schools. She and Gelter authored the paper “Whose Trojan Horse? The Dynamics of Resistance Against IFRS,” which was published in the University of Pennsylvania Journal of International Law. She wrote two additional papers on IFRS, “The Political Economy of International Standard Setting in Financial Reporting: How the U.S. Led the Adoption of IFRS Across the World” and “Why and How Does the World Adopt IFRS.” She also taught classes in Comparative Corporate Law and Comparative Financial Reporting at the Law School.
Eroglu’s five-year S.J.D. journey included one other major accomplishment: She gave birth to her son during her second year in the program.
“If you’re loving what you do, you find the time,” Eroglu said of managing her research and writing responsibilities with the needs of raising her now 3-year-old boy at home in Istanbul.
Eroglu’s interest in accounting and the law dates back to her college days at Istanbul University, where she graduated with a business administration degree. She later obtained her law degree from Bahçesehir University in Istanbul and received an LL.M. from Columbia Law School, specializing in corporations, corporate finance, financial statement analysis, and gender issues.
In combining her myriad interests in the law, accounting, and business, Eroglu discovered a surprising IFRS outcome—namely, that most nations operate on the same fear that they will be pushed to do something they don’t want to do.
Gelter praised Eroglu for delving deep into the motivations and beneficiaries of IFRS in various countries. In particular, her counterintuitive conclusions concerning the United States, which delegates its accounting standards to private bodies, and IFRS are illuminating. Notably, the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission does not allow domestic companies to use IFRS.
“In the American discourse, IFRS is seen as something the rest of the world is trying to impose on the U.S.,” Gelter explained. “Zehra is saying that actually the U.S. actors, such as the SEC and the accounting profession, have actively helped promote IFRS in other jurisdictions and encouraged them to adopt them because it’s quite similar to American accounting standards.”
“Zehra is contributing in an excellent way to legal scholarship,” Gelter added. “Her choice of topic was slightly unusual for what people study in law school, but it’s nevertheless important.”
Eroglu, who will formally receive her S.J.D. in February 2017, has now turned her attention to securing a full-time law school teaching position.
“Completing the S.J.D. at Fordham Law School placed me closer to what I’ve always dreamed of doing,” Eroglu said.