Studies at Durham and The Hague
I entered Pitt law school in September 1998 having been awarded a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship for the 1999-2000 academic year. Knowing that I would have the rare opportunity to pursue graduate studies overseas, yet also being aware that such an opportunity would come at the expense of a traditional law school career, I undertook to integrate both experiences and make the most of what each could offer. With the help of Professor Brand and the Center for International Legal Education, I sought and gained acceptance into the University of Durham's LL.M. program in International and European Law, and returned to Pittsburgh this August with a newfound appreciation of legal scholarship and the dynamic study of law outside of the confines of a traditional legal education.
In what was as apparent the first day I arrived in Durham as it is today, there could have been no more idyllic setting for the rediscovery of academia than Durham. As the third oldest university in England, next to Cambridge and Oxford, Durham boasts a proud academic and social tradition nestled in England's northernmost region of Northumbria. "Half church of god, half castle 'gainst the Scot," Sir Walter Scott aptly described the Norman keep that now houses the large majority of University classrooms and faculties. While assignments and final grades find themselves posted on 11th century castle walls, and time remains kept by the cathedral bells, contemporary topics of international human rights, European Community external relations, and European trade law have become of particular interest to Faculty of Law at Durham. I entered into a program where I was, in fact, the only native English speaker in the cradle of English scholarship. French, German, Dutch and Scandinavian students added a particular global element to a University that could have otherwise rested quietly along the Scottish border.
That element brought broad perspectives to each classroom subject, encouraged individual research that spanned the practical and purely academic approaches to the law, and resulted in a dynamic educational experience. In my own research, I sought to find the practical relevance of European Community law to American practitioners, and focused on the development of European external competence in the field of private international law. This work was necessarily directed to the work of the Hague Conference of Private International Law, and upon completion of my coursework in Durham, I was given the opportunity to complete my research at that organization's Permanent Bureau, in the Netherlands.
In an experience that drew together my coursework, research and practical exposure to international law, and combined that exposure with a remarkable cultural experience, I concluded my year abroad in a city synonymous with international law-The Hague. From Pittsburgh to England to the Netherlands and back to Pittsburgh again, the scope of my legal education will hereafter extend beyond traditional constraints, and leave me to appreciate globalization on the most intimate of levels.