What was your first job after law school? How did that shape your career interest?
Following graduation from Harvard Law School, I worked for a year as a clerk to Judge Alfred T. Goodwin of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. During that year, Italy’s Corte costituzionale asked then Chief Justice Warren Burger for an introduction to an American law clerk. With Judge Goodwin’s support (and having previously spent a year in Italy as a Fulbright Fellow), I was invited to the Supreme Court in Washington for interviews and then spent the following year in Rome as a law clerk to Justice Antonio La Pergola of the Corte costituzionale.
I did not complete my Ph.D. in law at the European University Institute in Florence until after that second clerkship, and completion of my Italian law degree from the Università di Bologna law faculty came two years later when I defended my thesis in Bologna, on a vacation break from practice in Los Angeles at O’Melveny & Myers, then Warren Christopher’s firm
The judicial clerkship experiences in distinct legal systems at the elbow of deeply thoughtful judges offered me a valuable window into the world of advocacy, specifically the opportunity to assess from the vantage of the court what styles and qualities of advocacy were most effective. They also grounded me in problem-solving in each of the common law and the civil law traditions.
Both clerkships involved consideration of enduring issues with which I remain engaged. One particular fruit of clerking with the Corte costituzionale at a time when the relationship between European and Member State law demanded definition is an article co-written with Justice La Pergola (Community Law, International Law and the Italian Constitution, 79 American Journal of International Law 598 (1985)) and subsequently cited by the Bundesverfassungsgericht when it considered the issue in respect of German law: BVerfGE 73, 339 (Solange II).
What initially drew you to become a member of the Section?
About ten years ago as I contemplated the adventure of building my current firm, I chose the Section of International Law as my preferred international network. Having joined the Section, I found a unique and dynamic community of lawyers who share the convictions that our voices can contribute to further the rule of law, useful law reform, improvement of the legal profession, and enhancement of our members’ careers.
It helped that within days of joining, Meaghan McGrath Sutton of our Section recruited me as a leader of the Mexico Committee, now one of our Section’s most active. Collaborating to build that Committee cemented my commitment to the Section. Our team’s focus on diversity was key, and is reported in Patrick Del Duca, Alejandro Suárez Méndez and Juan Carlos Velázquez de León Obregón, The Mexico Committee–Nurturing Committee Activity and Diversity, ABA Section of International Law Diversity Newsletter 7–10 (Fall 2012).
What are you most passionate about in your role as Membership Officer?
We seek to grow our Section’s membership. Lawyer-to-lawyer, I am passionate to communicate the value–personal, professional and economic, that can flow from engagement with our Section. Within our Section, I am eager to encourage each of our members to invite a few friends to join. Our shared status as Section members empowers each of us to make new professional friends, inviting them to join us in Section activities. And, I seek to support the excellent work of our Committees across the board in recruitment and integration of new members, but especially of our Outreach Committee focused on new lawyers and law students. Among the excellent work of that Committee is our Section’s Pathways program that recruits existing members to conduct outreach programs in law schools.
I am eager to communicate the many ways our Section’s members step into the spotlight as part of advancing our Section’s work. Having just finished a term as our Section’s Publications Officer, I mention a few opportunities in the publications field. Our Committees regularly publish newsletters compiled from timely, brief contributions by Committee members. Through our Committees’ contributions to The Year in Review, an interested member can quickly be identified in a high circulation law review as the author of a short update on a legal development in the current year. Longer articles can be published in this International Law News, and full 10,000 work law review articles in our Section’s flagship law review, The International Lawyer.
Although not every Section member will author a memoire such as that of Chinese human rights lawyer Zhisheng Gao (Unwavering Convictions, co-published by our Section this year with Carolina Academic Press), there are opportunities not only to author books and chapters of books that our Section publishes (e.g. forthcoming from the Mexico Committee in November is a multi-author work provisionally titled Mexico and its legal system: Lawyers’ essays on the continuing evolution), but also to serve on the Section Books Board that oversees these activities. A similar richness of opportunities exists to contribute through each of our Section’s sixty-some committees, multiple city chapters around the world, and activities focused on the breadth of Section meetings and programs, law reform efforts, rule of law initiatives, professional development, diversity and inclusion activities, etc.
Why would you encourage people to join the Section?
Membership in our international community of lawyers opens many doors, including to:
- become a better lawyer,
- improve the law,
- advance a legal career,
- mentor others, and,
- make friends with a members of a community diverse in every way and united in an appreciation of the value of membership in our unique international legal community.
What do you like most about the Section?
Our Section’s members are spread across over 100 countries, yet our work is conducted with a sense of close community across boundaries of all kinds. Our members find leadership opportunities and visibility in our more than sixty committees (some focused on specific subject matters, others on a geography or other affinity) and our growing number of active city chapters. They likewise contribute in our Section’s meetings of various sizes and focuses spread around the world as well as in our numerous publications (newsletters, law review and books) and policy and rule of law initiatives. We offer abundant opportunities to relate through both technology and travel.
What types of legal professionals are members of the Section?
If you fall within our broad definition of a lawyer (no need to be a U.S. lawyer), we welcome lawyers globally–AND we welcome law firm lawyers, in-house counsel, government lawyers, judges, NGO lawyers, international organization lawyers, etc.–AND we welcome law professors and law students globally!). Join our community by becoming a member and encouraging your colleagues to become members. You may be surprised by just how economical it is to sign up (if you ask, you will learn about the ABA 50% discount promotion for new members of the ABA and our Section), but the true measure of your investment in our community will become apparent with time as you engage with us.
What types of trending and insightful legal information do members have access to?
As a Section member, among the resources that you can access online, in addition to International Law News, is our flagship law review, The International Lawyer. In particular, you can read its volume 50(1), celebrating fifty years of its publication of the perspectives and insights of practitioners and scholars of our community. My own enthusiasm for what our members can achieve through our Section is laid out in one of its articles: Why We Read The International Lawyer–Answers Parsed from Works of Two International Lawyers, 50(1) The International Lawyer 87 (2017).
What are some ways that current members can help recruit new members?
Surf the membership section of our Section website as a start to understanding the multi-layered opportunities to engage with us. As I can facilitate the process of engagement, please do not hesitate to reach out to me.
I hope to see you soon at a Section meeting, program, or event!