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Careers in International Law Do you continue to be involved with Jessup?

Yes, I do my best to get involved with Jessup every year, marking memorials and judging oral rounds. I have judged the international rounds in Washington as well as the UK national rounds and regional rounds in the United States. It’s always a privilege to witness the extraordinary hard work and talent on display, with teams that seem to get better and better every year. And having to familiarize myself with the legal issues thrown up by each year’s Compromis means I always learn new areas of international law.

Do you have any advice for students participating in Jessup?

They hardly need advice as they have already made a very smart decision – to do Jessup!

My one suggestion would be this – once all the hard work drafting the memorials is done, find former Jessup participants, academics, fellow students, whoever, to put you through your pac- es in as many practice moots as possible. There is no better way to polish your advocacy skills, practice answering questions, and test the pre- sentation of your arguments.

The only other point to make is that those stu- dents who enjoy competing in Jessup are also likely to get a lot out of judging Jessup in the future or finding other ways to stay involved (like coaching or organizing your local competition).

In closing, what advice do you have for students seek- ing to practice international law? Are there certain skills that students should pursue during school?

I suppose I would say three things.

Develop your legal skills. Leaving substantive law aside, the practice of international law is much the same as any other form of legal practice. You have professional duties and must deploy your skills to represent and advise your client to the

best of your abilities. You need to be able conduct research, provide accurate advice, communicate clearly and effectively, exercise sound legal judg- ment, engage in technical drafting, represent your client, work with other lawyers – it’s a list familiar to all practitioners. So whatever your route to the practice of international law, make sure you sharpen your legal skills along the way, and keep looking for opportunities to do so.

Learn the fundamentals. Particularly today, when international law permeates so many fields, practitioners may run into international le- gal problems in a specialized area without having had a real grounding in the fundamentals of in- ternational law. It is a specialism but, more than that, it has many elements that are distinct from domestic law.

Before venturing too far into international legal practice, it is very helpful to have a firm grip on the foundations of international law – the sourc- es of international law, jurisdiction, state respon- sibility, international institutions, the settlement of disputes. Having a good sense of the big picture enables you to deal with specific issues more effectively.

Don’t give up. There is no single or obvious path to a career in international law. Talk to people whose work you think sounds interesting. Learn about their journey. Rather than following the crowd, you need to think creatively to find a way in. It’s a competitive field. Be tenacious. Some people are lucky, but the majority of interna- tional lawyers I know began their career in roles that only partially engaged them in international legal practice. Keep looking for opportunities to increase the international elements in your legal practice. Eventually you will get there.

Thank you for your time, your continued contribu- tions to the Jessup Competition, and sharing your thoughts with ILSA Quarterly readers.

. ILSA Quarterly » volume 22 » issue 4 » May 2014


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