Warsaw attorney David Kolbe shares this photo from his time teaching criminal law and procedure at Wisdom University in Tirana, Albania. Kolbe, back center, is pictured with the students and the head of the law program, a university official and a fellow professor. Photo Provided
Warsaw attorney David Kolbe shares this photo from his time teaching criminal law and procedure at Wisdom University in Tirana, Albania. Kolbe, back center, is pictured with the students and the head of the law program, a university official and a fellow professor. Photo Provided
Warsaw attorney David Kolbe has tried a lot of cases and traveled a lot of places.

Kolbe’s been practicing law out of his downtown Warsaw office for 33 years. In 2006, Kolbe applied to be a senior visiting professor with the Center for International Legal Studies based in Salzburg, Austria.

Kolbe has a bachelor of arts degree in modern European history from Indiana University, South Bend. His love of history never left him, even when he decided to go to law school instead of taking a job with the state department or teaching, he said.

“I love history. I still do, and I try to keep abreast to the current history,” Kolbe said.

Kolbe said his love of travel and teaching law – he taught introduction to American politics for 15 years as an adjunct professor at IPFW – was only strengthened after he spent two weeks in Russia and Estonia with Josh McDowell Ministries.

“I wanted to visit Europe more and contribute there after my first trip to the Soviet Union in 1992,” Kolbe said. “What I saw was a real hunger and desire to embrace the root of law.

“The essential consequence of communism was there really wasn’t a rule of law up there anymore,” Kolbe said. He also said there was an absence of motivation for people to work. He wanted to be able to express his interest in teaching, using his experience in the law.

Kolbe was accepted into the Center’s program and has traveled to a number of former communist states since 2007 teaching American criminal law and procedure in law schools, including in Ukraine, Latvia, Poland, Hungary, Austria, Czech Republic and Albania.

Kolbe leaves Oct. 11 to teach at European University in Tbilisi, Georgia.

One of the factors that the Center takes into account for applying professors is the experience they’ve had in practicing law, engaging with others and having some degree of life experience, and also what vision they would bring to the program. Kolbe said he told the director his vision is teaching, and then being an ambassador for the United States.

“They want to know who we are,” Kolbe said.

Kolbe said the students he’s taught have been excellent and besides enjoying the teaching, he also enjoys interacting with the university personnel and members of the local government.

“Ukraine was by far the least advanced,” Kolbe said, and he often had to have a translator. “Poland had a high degree of advancement as far as English proficiency,” he said.

“Every place I’ve been they’re very interested in the criminal process. None of these people are from places where there are jury trials,” Kolbe said.

He said he’ll set up mock jury trials in his class, and, he said with excitement, “They get it!”

Kolbe said he also always shows a surprise American movie that has to do with a jury trial.

At his last teaching tenure, he played “Primal Fear” with Richard Gere and Edward Norton.

“I reminded them to bring some alcoholic beverages and popcorn, and they did!” he said.

Kolbe said he always looks to find  things that are important in the culture where he’s visiting.

For his upcoming trip to Georgia, it’s faith and food, he’s found out.

He said 95% of the area is Christian Eastern Orthodox, and there’s a lot of drinking.

“Most meals don’t begin until they have a number of toasts,” he said. “And you have to chug your whole glass for the toast. Most of the food is to cure the hangover the next day.”

As a nondrinker, he’s not sure how that will go.

Kolbe has also taught incoming senior professors like himself how to prepare for the extensive traveling involved, and how to be a good American.

Kolbe said for starters, to travel around the world, a person needs to be in “pretty good shape and be able to basically pull an all-nighter.”

Kolbe gets a RedEye flight and sets all of his clocks to the local time where he’s headed. “So I’m already there,” he said.

He also said it’s important to know in advance the currency value.

“You have to be careful,” he said. “I really, really try not to stand out when I’m out doing stuff.”

Kolbe will also be a representative for the U.S. on Oct. 19 during his trip at an international scientific conferences about “actual problems of justice.” Kolbe will speak about his experiences along with an ex-judge of Strasburg International Court and current judges of the constitutional court, professors and foreign experts.

Kolbe hops on his RedEye Oct. 11 out of Chicago and will fly into Istanbul. He returns stateside Oct. 26.

Kolbe said he’s had a great career practicing law, teaching law and traveling the world, and that’s because, “I put myself in the game.”