ILN

Meet Diversity Officer Mark E. Wojcik

You have a great deal of international experience working with a broad range of people from varied governance systems, legal structures, cultures, and societies. What have been some of your experiences?

I clerked for the U.S. Court of International Trade and later served as Court Counsel to the Supreme Court of the Republic of Palau during the year that Palau became an independent country. (Before then, it had been a UN Strategic Trust Territory administered by the United States). I’ve taught at law schools in China, Lithuania, Mexico, and Switzerland and have been a visiting research scientist in Italy. My husband is from Italy as well—we met in Japan. I’ve also taught seminars and lectured in the Czech Republic, Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Singapore, and Turkey. I also organize the Global Legal Skills Conference in different locations around the world, including Costa Rica, Italy, Mexico, and next year in Australia.

As a law professor, what types of international law resonate with you?

 

I love being able to teach lawyers and law students how they can use international law in their domestic work. It’s surprising how many lawyers are either unaware of applicable treaties or else don’t know how to find out which countries are parties to a particular treaty or what reservations they claimed when they ratified the treaty. There’s a lot of work to do with lawyers to teach them how to find and use rules of international law.

Why did you decide to help open the first law school in Bhutan?

It’s an incredible honor to help launch the first law school in Bhutan, a small country sandwiched between its giant neighbors China and India. Bhutan transformed from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy only ten years ago, under the enlightened guidance of then-King Jigme Singye Wangchuck. The Bhutanese Constitution entered into effect in 2008. The law school is named after the former monarch. It is the first law school in the history of Bhutan, and it will train the future lawyers, judges, law professors, and other legal professionals that the country will need to implement that Constitution, ensure justice, safeguard fundamental individual rights, and uphold the rule of law. My husband and I worked there as Fulbright Specialists to help launch the law school. There are 25 students in the first class—13 women and 12 men—who will be the future leaders of Bhutan.

What inspired you to focus on diversity?

Diversity and inclusion are core values of the ABA and the Section of International Law. Our Section is probably the most diverse ABA Section because of our global membership—lawyers from so many countries, cultures, and backgrounds enrich our meetings, programs, publications, and activities. Look around the rooms of our section meetings and you’ll see the world. We are truly enriched by the global diversity of our section, including diversity based on race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender expression, national origin, ancestry, age, disability, veteran status, marital status, or any other characteristic. We are diverse in the areas of our law practice: our membership includes judges, lawyers, in-house counsel, government employees, law professors, and law students. Also, who can count how many different languages are spoken at our seasonal meetings?

How will the Section promote diversity this year?

The Section has numerous diversity-related programming events. Many committees have Diversity Vice Chairs to help increase diversity at the committee level. The Section’s new Diversity Fellowship Program, now in its second class of Fellows, has also brought a wide range of talented legal professionals to the important work of the Section. Through collaboration with leadership, diverse bar associations, and other ABA entities, we will continue to make great strides in our diversity goals. We’re also working on a new five-year diversity plan for the Section.

 

How can members become involved in the Section’s diversity initiatives?

I will be working closely with Division Chairs and Committee leaders to ensure that diversity is incorporated into all Section programming and meetings. Diversity and inclusion are at the heart of the Section and finding new ways of reaching more diverse members is an important mission of the Diversity Committee.

If you have any questions or suggestions about how to promote diversity in the Section of International Law, please contact me or contact one of the Deputy Diversity Officers. I look forward to working with you in the coming bar year.

Mark E. Wojcik

Mark E. Wojcik is a law professor at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago and is the ABA Section of International Law Diversity Officer for 2017–18. He previously served as the Section Publications Officer. He is also a 2017–208 Fulbright Specialist at the Jigme Singye Wangchuck School of Law in Thimphu, Bhutan.