On Feb. 3-6, 2008, students from UWO Law travelled to New York city. Here is a write-up that Omar did:
“A national law school with an international outlook.”
That’s how Western describes itself, and this February nearly a dozen Western law students made it true.
We were a rather international group ourselves, many of us working or traveling overseas prior to law school. Most of the students were first-years, but we also had several international exchange students from Europe and New Zealand.
Our first stop was the center of international law – the United Nations. We toured the chambers and had the opportunity to speak to two people in the U.N.’s Office of Legal Affairs. Both were Canadians. They shared with us the immensely important role that Canadians play within the U.N., and information on diplomatic legal careers.
We also met with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy. She shared a touching yet heart-wrenching video of children rehabilitated after serving in child armies in West Africa.
The next day we took on an educational focus and visited the Columbia School of Law. Our own Prof. Ooosterveld, who accompanied us on our trip, did her Masters in Law at Columbia. Prof. Oosterveld has published her own book on international law, and considered the school one of the foremost in the field. This was followed by a stop at the Canadian Mission, where some controversial and topical areas of international law were discussed.
We concluded our trip with some exposure to very different areas of international law. We first saw the Open Society Justice Initiative. They set up live website (charlestaylortrial.org) in a war crimes court trying former Liberian President, Charles Taylor. Allegations against Taylor include arming rebels in Sierra Leone, who in turn used child soldiers.
After seeing children in conflicts in the video at the U.N. earlier in the week, this initiative truly illustrated the role that law plays in holding such individuals accountable for their actions.
Our final stop on the last day was at the New York office of Torys LLP. They are unique among the Seven Sisters in that they are the fist and only one to have a branch there. The move was precipitated in trying to meet the needs of their clients, who were doing more business in the U.S.
We were hosted by Mr. Brian Flood, a corporate and commercial lawyer, former chair of the firm’s executive committee, and graduate of Western Law (1968). Another Canadian lawyer, Gavin Sinclair (UVic, 2000) led us through a case study of how an international merger and acquisition was conducted.
The most fascinating thing about the transaction was the number and types of lawyers in different countries interacted with, spanning several continents. They also talked about how Canadian law students can pursue legal careers in the U.S.
When we eventually left New York for London, ON, we truly felt we visited the world. The issues were discussed were dwarfed only by the number of flags at the U.N. The scope of legal practices we observed truly broadened our international outlooks, globally.