Paris Experience (Laura De Los Rios)

Laura De Los Rios was part of St. John’s Paris Summer Program this summer. After spending the first half of the summer in Paris, she now interns at the Appellate Division Second Department and works at a personal injury firm. She is a rising 2L at St. John’s and will join the St. John’s Journal of International and Comparative Law in the fall.

| Laura De Los Rios | 19 July 2012 | Paris, France |

I enrolled in three two-credit courses in Paris, where I studied international and comparative law for four weeks. I studied Drafting International Contracts, International Business Transactions and Comparative Criminal Law. As Paris is one of the most important centers of international practice in the world, studying French law on French soil made it much more interesting. The program instilled a combination of theory and practice by enabling me to study the French legal system while at the same time living in France.

It was even more exciting to have a couple of lessons taught by French lawyers, who arranged our visit to the Palais de Justice. During our courthouse visit, we had the opportunity to sit in during a trial and get a first hand experience on the differences between the French and American judicial systems. The courthouse visit allowed us to expand our classroom knowledge. The courses also furthered my perspective as we studied other legal systems. For example, in Comparative Criminal Law we evaluated the criminal justice systems of the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Sweden and the United Kingdom with respect to prostitution. It was interesting to note how other countries approach certain matters completely different than the United States, such as treating prostitution as an administrative violation.

Further, given that Paris is also the home of international arbitration, I was excited to have an expert arbitration attorney instruct our class for one full day. This class was extremely valuable, especially as a rising 2L joining the St. John’s Dispute Resolution Society. We also learned how to draft arbitration clauses, which we were tested on.

Aside from having special guests instruct our courses and taking field trips, the class environment in the summer program was drastically different than 1L. The classes were composed of small groups and they were not instructed as lectures. We engaged in discussions and were able to ask questions with relative ease, instead of waiting until the end of class. Studying for finals was also much easier, since we were tested on a month worth of material that was fresh in our brains.

Aside from studies, we were able to escape into the city and tour Paris in greater depth. Paris’ monuments, museums and restaurants make it one of the most pleasant cities in the world to visit. Immediately after class, my two accomplices and I rushed to the Lovre Museum. We entered the museum, originally a royal palace, through the glass pyramid that allows the sunlight to go into the underground floor. Going down the stairs to the main lobby, I saw the Leonardo da Vinci’s Saint Anne exhibition that was a must see. We immediately purchased our tickets and audio guides and began our journey with only five hours until closing time. As we strolled into the Saint Anne’s exhibition, I was amazed to see Leonardo da Vinci’s sketches of baby Jesus. All of the compositional sketches and preparatory drawings were exhibited with the ultimate masterpiece at the end of the exhibition. We then had nearly four hours to tour the rest of the museum, so we split up and went off in different directions to get to what we wanted to see. Other attractions and museums we visited consisted of a similar routine; our goal was to get the most out of our trip. We even found the inner children in us all and visited Disneyland Paris.

Studying abroad in Paris was an amazing experience and it introduced me to international law from a different angle. Even if I decide not to pursue a career in international law, the education I received in Paris was extremely valuable. Studying abroad in Paris has been my most memorable and enjoyable educational experience.


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