Law on the International Stage


by 2L Yasmine Palmer

Students at William & Mary have the opportunity to take courses on a variety of interesting international topics, taught by professors who are foremost in their field. The Law School offers an International Law Concentration designed to help students specialize in whatever ‘branch’ of international law interests them most.

Interested in human rights law? Take International Criminal Law with Professor Nancy Combs, a former legal advisor at the Iran-United States Claims Tribunal, who has given expert testimony before courts around the world. Interested in the international aspect of business? Take International Business Transactions or Corporations & International Law with Professor Jay Butler, a former legal advisor to the Government of Japan.

Though these are just three of the many international law classes offered, they serve as evidence of the opportunity that one has at William & Mart to get a diverse education in international law. But the opportunities don’t stop there!

Yasmine Palmer at the Hague

International Experiences

Last summer, I interned at the United Nations’ International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals. The Mechanism was created by the UN to takeover and complete the work started by the now-closed International Tribunals for Rwanda and Yugoslavia. It has two locations: one in Arusha, Tanzania and one in The Hague, Netherlands. I worked in The Hague (“Den Haag” in Dutch)!

Serving as a legal intern in the Appeals Division of the Office of the Prosecutor, I spent twelve weeks working on a variety of projects and assignments related to the pending appeal case of the former Bosnian general, Ratko Mladic. Our office was made up of lawyers and interns from around the world, featuring people from places as close by as France and as far away as Hong Kong. Unfortunately, due to confidentiality concerns—it is an active court, after all—I can’t say much else about the actual job. What I will say, though, is that I learned a lot during this internship and developed legal writing and internationally-focused research skills that I hope to apply to my career in the future. I also developed wonderful friendships and professional connections that I could not have made elsewhere.

I’m so thankful to have had an opportunity like this one and, as a law student at William & Mary, you can too!

Professor Christie Warren, Director of the Center for Comparative Legal Studies and Post-Conflict Peacebuilding, offers an internship program that provides students with legal internships in countries around the world. Last summer, students went everywhere from Bangladesh to Jordan to South Africa, but she also offers internships at locations right here in the U.S.!

Students who apply to international internships outside of Professor Warren’s program still have many resources at their disposal. I, for example, applied directly to the Mechanism via the UN career portal, but relied heavily on the support of my professors and Office of Career Services advisor. I have no doubt that their guidance helped me to succeed.

If you are a student interested in pursuing a career in international law, William & Mary’s robust academic and experiential offerings might be for you!

Mind over Matter: Keeping Your Sanity in Law School

Virginia Capital Trail

by Emily O’Hara, 3L

In law school, you may face similar challenges to those you experienced while studying in college or while working at your job. Some familiar challenges may include lack of sleep and increased stress. In law school, you may also experience new and unique challenges. Law school requires students to complete a lot of reading. Additionally, class and extracurricular activity schedules may lead students to be at the law school from 8:00 am to 10:00 pm. Even when you do have a break in your daily schedule, there is always something that you could be doing to get ahead. At times, law school can be overwhelming. Here are some tips and tricks that can help you practice mindfulness and manage stress. These tips can also be of use as you continue preparing law school application materials!

10 Things You Can Fit into Your Schedule to Prevent Mental Burnout – Lessons from a 3L:

  1. Set a Timer for 10 or 20 minutes. Close Your Eyes.
    When feeling overwhelmed, stressed, or tired – take a moment for yourself. Some people call this meditation; some call it napping. Either way, it is helpful to rest your brain. You have been reading and looking at a computer all day. It is time to give your eyes a break!
  1. Engage the Other Side of Your Brain.
    Play some music, doodle, or color in your adult coloring book. Do something creative that makes you happy. Sometimes focusing on something other than law school assignments can help you feel refreshed when finishing those last few tasks on your to-do list.
  1. Set Reasonable Daily Goals.
    If you like to make lists and notice that you are not checking off as much as you would like, reevaluate what you are completing throughout a day. Take the time to reorganize. Prioritize the bigger assignments and the assignments that are due the next day. Leave some time to watch your favorite TV show or read a book for fun.
  1. Learn How to Shift.
    When you cannot complete those tasks on your daily to-do list by the end of the night, do not panic. Look at the rest of your week and find time to reschedule. Trust yourself and your process – you will find the time you need to complete everything.
  1. When Stressed, Think in Increments of Time.
    You’re looking at your calendar. There is so much going on this month! There is so much going on this week! If you start to feel overwhelmed, look only to what you have to complete today. If your list for today seems overwhelming, think only about what you have to complete this morning, or within this one hour.
  1. Do Not Feel Guilty. Take Time to Relax.
    You do not have to feel guilty for taking a moment for yourself! Sure, there are 100 other things you could be doing for school. But taking the break now will result in less burnout later on in the semester.
  1. Block Out Time Each Week to Visit with Friends. Try NOT to Talk About Law School.
    Having a social life in law school sometimes seems impossible, but it is necessary. Block out time each week to go out to lunch with your friends, see a movie, or go to dinner with your significant other. Try not to worry about upcoming assignments or stress about all the reading you need to complete when you get home. Take the time to decompress and enjoy your time as a young adult. Explore your new law-school town with new friends.
  1. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others.
    We are all on different paths. We all have different goals. We all have different life experiences. One person’s version of success looks vastly different than his neighbor’s version of success. When it comes to the study methods you use for exams or the jobs you are applying to for your summer internship – stay true to yourself.
  1. Keep it All in Perspective.
    Law school is HARD. That is why most people do not do it. By even considering law school – you are embarking on a path that most of the population will never walk down. Be PROUD of how far you have come so far. One wrong answer in class will not impact your academic performance. One poor grade will not impact your ability to become a great lawyer. Remember why you are here. Remember your goals. Do not let small failures discourage you.
  1. Ask for Help When You Need It.
    We all need a little extra help now and then. Go to your professor’s office hours and tell them you are struggling. Ask for an extension on an assignment if you cannot complete it on time. Talk to your support systems about your concerns and anxieties. Visit the counseling center. At William & Mary Law, you have endless resources. People are here to help. Use them.