Internationalism at YLS

November 9, 2010 - 12 AM

V.V., 1L

Before coming to law school, I lived in Hong Kong for seven years—first as a banker, then as an investment manager, and finally as a fundraiser for an NGO. When I left Asia a few months ago, I was apprehensive about how I would fit in among my YLS classmates. I was not only “more experienced” than the typical law school student but had not actually lived in the United States since 2003, and suddenly I found myself moving to…New Haven, of all places.

Although this is the coldest November I’ve experienced in years, and today the sun set at 4.40pm (sigh), New Haven and the YLS experience have been full of good surprises so far. In particular, I’ve been struck by the incredible diversity – in age, background and life experience – of my classmates here. For a 1L, that mysterious “x-factor” that the YLS Admissions Committee seeks in its candidates comes to light when you stand in the main corridor of the Sterling Law Building each day, surrounded by your classmates…all you have to do is look around, and listen. My fellow 1Ls have lived and worked in all corners of the world. Moreover, I don’t even feel that old here: I would venture to say that students who have been out of school more than five or even ten years are far more common here than at other law schools. The result is an environment where even those of us with more unusual career paths feel as though we belong, and where students are accustomed to thinking about issues globally.

There are a number of opportunities available to those of us interested in legal issues outside the United States. In addition to its course offerings, YLS has a wide range of organizations devoted to the study of international law. The Yale Journal of International Law (YJIL) is one of the world’s leading international law publications, and organizations such as the Yale Forum on International Law (YFIL) regularly hold speaker events geared toward both public and private sector international law. For students interested in particular areas of the world, there are institutions such as The China Law Center, which engages in a number of interesting research and policy projects related to Chinese legal reform. And last but certainly not least, international internship and job placement opportunities abound if you are willing to be a little creative in your job search, and faculty and the YLS Career Development Office (CDO – so many acronyms!) will help you.

So – long story short, even if you are like me and you envision your career path ultimately taking you thousands of miles away, New Haven is a great place to begin your journey.