My Reply

Joshua Alter | 3 July 2012 | The Hague, Netherlands |

The hardest part of working abroad this summer has not been the distance from friends, the lack of country concerts, or the absence of Long Island’s beaches. Surprisingly, the hardest part has been being away from our JICL executive board for 8 weeks and still trying to participate in the decisions we are faced with. Collectively, we have dealt with grading a Writing Competition, choosing submissions for offers, arranging a Meet and Greet, and preparing for our August orientation. If the first month away has taught me anything, it’s that the group we have is capable of doing everything without me; delegating responsibility and sitting on the sideline is the part I have to work on.

One example is Conan Ju, an Associate Editor with JICL and a fellow Correspondent. Conan was the first Correspondent to answer my call to arms, and provided me with Across the Sea two days before his deadline, all while working in China. After preparing Conan’s submission for the website late Saturday afternoon in the Netherlands, I sent him a message telling him that his post was being put on the site and that he should admire his work. Conan told me that he could not see it; apparently the site is blocked in China. My reply to Conan was that we just had our first Field Notes learning moment. Conan is able to provide a first hand account of his summer activities to anyone with an Internet connection in Alaska or Hawaii, yet he cannot provide the same kind of e-insight to his friends in Shanghai and China.

My reply also led to renewed attempts to educate our own fellow students at St. John’s about the opportunities available to them. Our first initiative will be an event in the fall, the working title of which is Study Abroad | Work Abroad. My hope is to provide one convenient place for 1Ls and 2Ls interested in studying or working abroad to learn about these opportunities. The Paris Program offered courses in International Business Transactions, Drafting International Contracts, and Comparative Criminal Law. And when I discussed the Summer Program with a 1L who just finished studying in Paris, she told me that aside from the unbelievable experience, she was back in the States before June ended and is working a summer job for two months. It seems to be the best of both worlds, and by combining the Paris Students and Faculty in panels with the Correspondents, I hope we can provide interested students with multiple options in one convenient session.

That is not to say that working abroad does not have an academic component to it. My time at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia is providing me with a solid foundation for International Criminal Law, a course I am taking in the fall, and International Art & Cultural Heritage Law, which I am taking in the spring. While doing my job researching and writing on issues of Joint Criminal Enterprise and Intentional Destruction of Cultural Heritage, I am at the same time preparing for future courses at St. John’s. Best of both worlds indeed!

I have also received practical experience. On 15 June, I was part of a Professional Ethics in International Criminal Law training seminar, co-hosted by the Association of Defence Counsel practicing before the ICTY (ADC-ICTY) and the ICTY Office of Legal Aid and Detention Matters (ICTY-OLAD). Over the course of a rainy Friday in South Holland, Defence support staff and interns heard speakers discuss topics ranging from professional ethics for interviewing and examining witnesses to ethical implications of the Support Staff and Intern undertaking. On 17 July, I will be part of a group that works on advocacy training with a Senior Trial Attorney from the Office of the Prosecutor inside an ICTY courtroom. We will have the opportunity to conduct an examination-in-chief and a cross-examination, and will receive individual feedback. Although I am familiar with appellate advocacy from Moot Court, I have not taken a trial advocacy course and am excited for that learning exercise.

I am now officially at the halfway point in the summer, with one month down and one to go. As the case I am working on moves through the Pre-Trial phase, our team continues to expand. My newest team member is Andrew, an intern from Nairobi, Kenya who one day plans to return to Kenya and set up his own law office. As our team continues expanding, I am gaining insight into the true global network that is international law.


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