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Careers in International Law An interview with Jessup Alumnus Jesse Clarke

by Kaitlin Ball 2013-2014 ILSA Student President

big opportunities for budding attorneys. In this edition of Careers in International Law, the ILSA Quarterly spotlights a former Jessup competitor: Jesse Clarke.


Clarke’s career path includes some of the most sought-after positions in the field of international law, including work as a Senior Associate at the law firm of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer; as an Assistant Legal Adviser for the United King- dom’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office; as a vis- iting lecturer at Harvard Law School; and most recently as the First Secretary for Legal Affairs at the United Kingdom Mission to the United Na- tions.

Clarke received both a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Sydney, followed by a Master of Laws at the University of Cambridge. Notably, not only did Clarke partici- pate in Jessup as a law student, but he has also served as a judge for the UK Rounds, the U.S. Regional Rounds and the International Rounds of the Jessup Competition.

When did you become interested in international law?

Jesse Clarke: My interest in international law grew gradually, as the natural culmination of two other key interests – law and international poli- tics. Even as a high school student, I was inter- ested in the law, probably based on a predilec- tion for argument and a curiosity about justice and fairness. I also enjoyed history, which pro-

he Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition is the world’s largest moot court competition, and par- ticipation in Jessup can lead to equally

voked my desire to study political science and international relations as an undergraduate. Then at Sydney University Law School, when I took a course on international law, I discovered that international law was a fascinating combination of international relations and law.

How did this affect your legal education?

Having taken a general introductory international law course, I decided to apply to do a masters degree specializing in international law. I went to the University of Cambridge to do an LL.M. where I took all international law classes, includ- ing the use of force, the law of armed conflict, the settlement of international disputes, interna- tional criminal law and a course on the founda- tions of international law. I was tempted to stay on to do a PhD but thought better of it. Although I still work hard to increase my knowledge, and enjoy doing so, the practice of law suits me much better than the solitary endeavor of academia.

What activities, academic or otherwise, did you par- ticipate in during law school that you feel particu- larly helped influence your career?

I always enjoyed mooting. Sydney University had a comprehensive student-run mooting program and I competed each year (with mixed success). In addition to building oral advocacy skills, I found that mooting helped me to hone my legal judg- ment, working out which legal arguments were stronger, which were essential to my theory of the case, and how to deploy the facts to my ad- vantage. I also participated in a range of student activities and organizations, and served as Vice Present of Sydney University Law Society and

ILSA Quarterly » volume 22 » issue 4 » May 2014


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