Summer Students Gain Unparalleled Access to Legal Professionals and High-Profile Organizations

This summer, American University Washington College of Law’s programs in D.C. and abroad offered students unparalleled access to professionals and organizations involved with many areas of law.

For example, nearly 30 students—representing countries such as Canada, Columbia, Chile, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom, United States, Mongolia, South Korea, and Ecuador—recently completed the summer Program on International Organizations, Law & Diplomacy (PIOLD) in Geneva. (Photo Right: Palais Wilson in Geneva)

"I still get several messages each day from connections made through the program.”

PIOLD covers all aspects of international organizations, from juridical to social and cultural dimensions through courses and hands-on learning with international organizations.

This summer, students resided in Geneva’s Malagnou and Chêne-Bougeries neighborhoods and traveled to various points around the city for classes which were often held on-site at organizations such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), and the International Labor Organization (ILO).

They also visited the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, High Commissioner for Refugees, and Human Rights Watch.

“Students had the opportunity to learn an incredible amount from knowledgeable professors and guest lecturers,” said Carlos Portales, director of the program. “When a course focused on a particular organization or subject area, there were often guest lecturers from those organizations leading discussions with each class.”

Some of the guest lecturers included Alejandro Jara, deputy director-general of the WTO; Kari Tapiola, special advisor to the director-general of the ILO; and Marcelo Di Pietro, director of the WIPO Academy.

(Photo Left: Students visit the International Committee of the Red Cross)

“It was amazing to visit these different international organizations and to be around people who work there,” said Diane Ghrist a JD student from American University Washington College of Law speaking of her WTO and WIPO classes, “You really get a feel for the day to day culture, and what kind of spirit goes into such institutions. You can never read about that. That was a big highlight of the experience.”

Social and networking events organized by program staff and faculty in addition to the program curriculum were a regular occurrence.

Alumnus Scott Andersen '79, now a trade lawyer living in Geneva, hosted an afternoon barbeque at his home, and talked one-on-one with students about their career paths. The Ambassador of Chile, Pedro Oyarce, welcomed students taking the ILO course for a reception at his residence with diplomats who work at the organization. In addition, regularly organized cocktail hours in the city connected summer program students with young professionals living and working in Geneva.

“The professors were amazing in organizing happy hours with the most incredible people from across Geneva—like people from WIPO ,” said Ghrist. “The events were a huge benefit, and I still get several messages each day from connections made through the program.”

Student-Faculty Interaction

Student-faculty interaction was also a unique part of the law school’s summer program offerings.

Professor Jayesh Rathod, director of the law school’s Immigrant Justice Clinic, taught in The Hague Program this summer. He appreciated sharing in the learning experience alongside his students.

(Photo R: Students at the Place des Nations in Geneva)

“In The Hague, we have had the opportunity to see the law in action, by observing proceedings at the International Criminal Court and The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY),” said Rathod. “These are truly unique learning opportunities –for both students and faculty—and they generate a rich exchange of opinions in the classroom.”

Professor and Associate Dean Stephen Vladeck taught in the Europe program and enjoyed the opportunity to travel with students.

“Both because the classes tend to be smaller and because we spend so much time with the students outside of class, there's an opportunity for us to get to know the students (and for the students to get to know us) to a degree that just isn't realistic during the school year,” said Vladeck. “I certainly get a better sense of their interests and career goals, but more importantly, I think we really get to appreciate each other as fellow travelers. Many of the students to whom I'm the closest are folks I either met or got to know better during one of the summer programs.”

Learn more about American University Washington College of Law’s summer programs.