Opportunities in International Law: interview with Katherine Reece-Thomas

City interviews Katherine Reece-Thomas on the launch of her new Public International Law LLM, ahead of the ‘Opportunities in International Law’ event.

What did you do before joining City University?

A Canadian, I studied law at Oxford and did my LLM in Public International Law (“PIL”) at Cambridge University. I taught PIL at Cambridge for many years while I qualified as a solicitor and then an attorney in New York. Having practiced a bit of Public International Law, it has always been an in interest to me to see how it works on the ground, so to speak, how it affects individual lives through the court systems of individual countries. But I also publish research in company law, in particular shareholders’ agreements.

Why introduce the new LLM?

CLS run a very successful LLM in International Commercial Law but we haven’t done any of the public international for some time. International Law is of great interest to students at the moment and to the world as a whole, of course. There are too many tragedies in the world to let it out of the public eye for long. In addition CLS has recruited a number of academics who specialise in PIL and who are passionate about sharing their knowledge and appreciation for this important subject.

What can students expect to gain from the new LLM? Why study at City?

The LLM is modelled on the existing International Commercial Law LLM. In that sense, students have to take 4 modules over a year, 2 in the first term, 2 in the second term and write a dissertation. They can specialise in particular branches of Public International Law, such as Human Rights, Minority Rights, The Law of State Responsibility, Dispute Settlement or International Criminal Law, but they obviously don’t have to.

There is a stable of modules on offer, a bit of a pick and mix. The thing about City is that we will teach all the modules in house as we are not relying on any visiting professors. Our team are dedicated Public International lawyers who are very keen to teach in the areas they research and publish in. We will be giving it a very much hands on approach from the point of view of admin staff and personal tutoring.

What opportunities will arise during the course?

We are hoping to establish scholarships and internships for students with various NGOs in London. We will also be organising practitioner workshops to give students an opportunity to meet practitioners and academics of Public International Law who are actually active in the field. Our City students will be able to take advantage of all the career advice, the pro bono opportunities and the general university facilities in the university and the City Law School.

What type of students are you looking for?

We are looking for keen and ambitious students. Students who are genuinely interested in international law. They do not have to have a law degree but they do have to have something vaguely relevant such as International Relations or Politics. Ideally they will have an upper second class degree. There is quite a high language requirement also. But really we are just interested in making sure we have people who are bright, committed and interested in the subject.

Anything students should know before starting the course?

Well obviously if they are moving to London for the first time, they need to use the University’s facilities to help them adjust to living in London. If they are coming from overseas, visas are a big deal so they need to get that sorted quickly. In terms of the course, general knowledge of what is happening in terms of recent developments in Public International Law is really important. Basically read the papers, listen to the news and just ask us any questions in advance.

What opportunities will arise for students after completion of the course?

Well the LLM makes it possible for students to then go into further research, such as a PhD. It also makes them eligible for certain work within international organisations such as NGOs and the Foreign Office. I predict some of our students coming from overseas will be returning to their home jurisdictions, perhaps to work in their own Foreign or Justice Ministries. So nothing specific in a sense of a career path. It’s not a vocational course since it doesn’t lead to a professional qualification but it does open doors in terms of a career in public international law.

Any tips for success?

Read the paper. Be committed. Work hard and come see us!

To find out more about the new LLM in Public International Law, visit the City website.

The ‘Opportunities in International Law’ event will be held at The Pool on 08/03/12 18.00-21.00. It will be a great opportunity to learn more about the new course and international law.

Places can be booked online.

 

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