Student Voices

As our students make their various paths through law school, we invite them to describe the surpises, enlightenment, satisfaction, and other experiences that they find. Here are their remarks:



Immersing in Humanitarian Law

"With the support of CILE, I was fortunate enough to attend the ICRC and Santa Clara University International Humanitarian Law Workshop in January.  The workshop provided an intense learning experience, with many real world examples and problems to grapple with in small groups.  After my three days there, I felt energized and even more committed to a career in International Law.  Meeting members of the ICRC, as well as military officers, who work with IHL every day was an amazing opportunity to see how many different and varied career paths there are in international law."

Defining Rape in Liberia

Liberia has been at war for nearly two decades....and the most significant casualty of the violent civil war has been the legal system, founded on common law tradition. Due to the physical destruction of valuable documents, including statutes and court decisions, the judiciary cannot utilize what would otherwise be its greatest tool for sustaining the rule of law: precedent. This situation severely threatens the consistency and reliability of the law within Liberia.

Liberia street scene

I was instructed to draft an amendment to the definition of Sexual Harassment in the Code of Conduct for all Public Servants for the Republic of Liberia. However, instead of confining research to the Penal Code's sections dealing with rape, I had to broaden my the scope to include international legal sources: definitions from African nations, the European Union, the United Nations, as well as the United States. ---- Adrienne Lester, Summer Intern at  the Honorable House of Representatives for the Republic of Liberia.

Investigating Congo Crimes

  "The research for the UN Justice Mapping Project in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been particularly rewarding because it may result in a war crimes tribunal in the DRC.   It has been fascinating to discover how much the world knew about the atrocities occurring there, but at the same time, to see how the focus in the media was really on the West's feeble attempts to have some influence in the DRC."   --- Carrie Cecil

Muslim LL.M. Representatives

Our 2007-2008 LL.M. class has students from five Islamic places: Bahrain, Iraq, Maldives, Palestine, and Tunisia. Together, they presented a panel program for our entire University to learn about Islamic law around the world. Here are some of their remarks about that program:

"Some extreme interpretations of the Koran in some Muslim countries had a negative impact on the image of Islam in the World. I wanted to show that interpretation has no limit especially when used in a political context. The core principles of Islam are tolerance, peace and solidarity." --Amin Lakhal  
"Representing my country in the U.S. is a massive reward for me since I am the first Bahraini student at the University of Pittsburgh School of law.   I am really glad for that because a lot of people in the U.S. didn't know about my country.   Some had the wrong perspective about my country.   Representing Bahrain in the U.S. gave me an opportunity to clear that." -- Noora
"This opportunity gave us a forum to answer some questions that the other students had about our respective countries' legal systems and the relationship between state and religion in our countries. It also provided us with a platform to tell others from a Muslim's point of view that violence & terrorism in the name of religion and faith is not an issue restricted to Islam or any faith in particular, and that we as Muslims condemn such actions to the same extent as Americans, if not more." --Maryam Nihayath

"As a Palestinian, I am so proud to be in the U.S., for this is a great advantage to meet the people of the strongest country in the world and understand their way of thinking and at the same timeand try to explain my people's perspective and  make a change, even a minor one, in how they think about us as  Arabs and Muslims in general and me as a Palestinian in particular." -- Majdi Jafar

Seeing and Hearing the Haitian Judiciary

During our recent visit to Haiti, interviews with the UNDP and the OAS indicated that most of the international community initiatives meant to promote judicial reform have ceased to operate during the administration of the Interim Government of Haiti. Exacerbating the problem further is the fact that there remains a lack of coordination among the many inter-governmental organizations, the non-governmental organizations, foreign development actors and the Haitian authorities as competing organizations vie for ideological dominance. "It is a war, and here [Haiti] is a front for many ideological battles." One of the overarching problems remains that the international community's absence of a clear plan, and the confusion created by competing reform movements, only augments the corruption in Haiti.

Alex Braden, Brandon Gardner, James Gabello, Ravi K. Reddy - Spring break trip 2006

Pioneering the Space Moot


"When I  saw the ad  inviting law schools to participate in the space moot, I just thought that space law must be fascinating.   I've been surprised to see that the  case we're arguing in the moot involves everything from torts, to property, to commercial law and communications-all in addition to space treaties.   -- Robin Belinsky

"Initially, we were in this space  moot completely on our own.   We formed our own team and started working on the problem by ourselves.   When we told CILE we were doing it, they immediately started coaching  us and found funding to pay our way to the out of town competitions.   Since there are only eight space moot teams in the whole country, all of the competitions are out of town.   It's really really exciting to work on it, mostly because it's new and different." -- Leslie Riley

Interviewing Lawyers in Morocco

"I became interested in Moroccan law while working for the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) in Washington, DC during the summer following my 2L year. MCC is an international development agency of the U.S. government with the mission of reducing poverty through economic growth. While working on the agency's agreement for development aid with Morocco, numerous questions of Moroccan law arose which led me to do my own research on legal reforms in the country. In particular I focused on reforms in the area of women's rights in the areas of marriage and divorce law.

It was important to travel to Morocco to conduct my research because the entire texts of the laws and their legislative histories were not accessible in print form in the U.S. or online.

It was also enormously helpful to speak with legal professionals and everyday citizens in the country to gain a more in-depth perspective on the impact of the new laws on society. CILE greatly helped me to achieve this goal by providing a grant that covered a significant portion of my airfare expenses. Without their assistance, my trip wouldn't have been possible." --Bryan Oklin JD 2008