UCC LLM in International Human Rights and Public Policy

My name is Jessie Chappell, and I’m an attorney from St. Louis, Missouri, in the United States. I’m enrolled in the College of Business and Law at University College Cork, earning my LLM in International Human Rights and Public Policy. The LLM is a one year program designed to provide a strong and practical foundation in current Human Rights Law. It’s also an excellent opportunity to research potential careers in Human Rights. I am very happy with my decision to attend UCC, and would absolutely do it again.

This program includes taught modules, conferences on contemporary human rights issues, guest lectures from top practitioners, and a research dissertation. We have examined the evolution of human rights, and the challenges in implementing universal norms throughout diverse cultures. I found the critical approach especially helpful in seeing current gaps in human rights implementation, and how effective mechanisms can impact people’s lives. The first part of the course provides an overview of the foundations of current International Human Rights instruments and implementation, followed by more focused electives to suit individual academic interests. Each lecturer is active in his or her field and brings fascinating practical experience to put topics into a broader perspective. Individual modules also allow students to meet peers in other LLM and MA programs and hear their diverse experiences. Most courses are evaluated through essays, providing helpful feedback well before starting work on the dissertation, and allowing students to approach professors one on one.

Although I have only been in this program for six months, it has already surpassed my hopes. Every module brought in active practitioners to apply our academic reading and provide an insight into different careers. More specifically, the Clinic module is unique in focusing solely on practical skills and exposure to the most topical issues in human rights law and policy. For example, in my short time at UCC, we’ve met or Skyped with the current ICC Chief Prosecutor, the current Chief Justice of Ireland, the Head of the Secretariat at the Council of Europe: Group of Experts on Action Against Trafficking, judges from multiple international criminal tribunals, the Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Slavery, and multiple practitioners from organizations such as Human Rights Watch and the Irish Human Rights Commission. Each one of these lectures individually would justify moving to Ireland for the year, so hearing from them and many others has motivated me in a way academic research never had.

These speakers, and the readings assigned beforehand, have helped me make the most of each class meeting and develop efficient research skills. I have also gained invaluable firsthand insight into diverse working conditions and topics where more attention is needed. I have already gained a broader perspective in law than I expected, and each professor has given me the skills and foundation necessary to succeed professionally in the academic, public, or private sectors.

 

The city that never sleeps – an account of studying in Brooklyn Law School

If someone told me a year ago that I’d be writing this while looking out over the skyscrapers of Wall Street, sipping a slightly too hot coffee from my favourite coffee-shop,  after manoeuvring my way through the 9am runners in the Brooklyn Bridge Park – I would have  laughed out loud.

During my year at Brooklyn Law School I have been able to study a variety of subjects, complete my own research projects, and participate in numerous pro-bono clinics. It has been, by far, the best year of my undergraduate degree so far.

Brooklyn Law School offers an inspiring environment where students are encouraged to get involved in clinical work from the early days of their degrees. As a UCC student visiting for a year it has been fantastic to be able to get some actual practical experience in the legal field.

A few months ago I argued my first case in front of a judge and even though it was a slightly (extremely) terrifying experience, I grew magnificently from it. I realised that I could actually see myself as a lawyer in the future. Handling my own case and my own client gave me the confidence I needed to see a real future as a lawyer and it was a nice reassurance of the fact that I had not spent 3 years in Law School for nothing. The fact that I also won the case was a nice bonus.

Brooklyn Law School offers an extensive and comprehensive curriculum of courses to choose from. I have been taking classes ranging from Bioethics and Public Policy and International Commercial Arbitration to more practical classes such as Alternative Dispute Resolution and Divorce Mediation. It has been invaluable to be able to expand my curriculum in the way Brooklyn Law School has allowed me to during this year abroad.

Through the BCL (International) programme I have been able to not only study law in one of the most buzzing cities in the world, I have also been able to explore a whole new culture – and experience things I could only have dreamed of.

Last week I sat in the audience of the Late Show with David Letterman. Just like that, as if it was the most normal thing in the whole world. The week before that I nearly fell over Ethan Hawke on my way to class, as they were shooting a movie on the side-walk outside of my building. People reading poetry slam in the subway or break-dancing is nearly as much a part of the daily routine as your morning-coffee.

When I arrived here last August I was hit by an insane heat wave and the boiling city nearly threw me off living in a big city forever. New York is noisy, intense and quite overwhelming at times. It is nothing like Cork. For me the key to success was to create my own city, in the middle of the big city. New York is not as big as you think, but unless you find a way to create your own neighbourhood with your own favourite shops, walks and interesting New Yorkers to admire – it is easy to be overwhelmed by the size of this place.

I absolutely fell in love with Brooklyn Heights the minute I first walked from my apartment down to the Brooklyn Bridge. It is one of the oldest areas in New York with a rich historical architecture.  This is where the big stars retire to when they want to settle down and have a family. I hear Sarah Jessica Parker lives 5 minutes away from me.

It is not Manhattan but close enough. Here in Brooklyn Heights I managed to find my own place and my own space in this city. Filled with great restaurants, bars, second-hand shops and wine-bars, Brooklyn Heights is its own cultural Mecca. So it is not hard to fall completely in love.

Manhattan is only two Subway-stops away, so if you would (ever) get sick of the ‘peace’ and ‘quiet’ offered in the Heights, it just a hop, skip and a jump away to Soho and the buzzing nightlife in the Lower East Side. I am sure though, that once you do leave the Heights; you will be back sooner than you anticipated.

As this amazing experience is slowly coming to an end, all I can do is to encourage other people to choose the same path I did. New York City may not be everyone’s favourite cookie – and yes, it can be quite intimidating at first. However, if you give it a chance it will inevitably grow on you. Because that is what New York does to people – it traps you down and makes you never want to leave.

 

Annie Nevala
BCL International III (2013/2014)

ECUPL Experience

I spent my third year studying in East China University of Political Science and Law. Before heading over I had spent a year studying Mandarin and getting to know my Chinese classmates, and I was well prepared for any cultural or language challenges I faced when I arrived.

ECUPL is one of the top rated Law Schools in China and is a fantastic university to study in. I studied in the Graduate School with some excellent lecturers and all of our classes took place through English. As part of the course I was able to study unique subjects like Commercial Arbitration and Chinese Company Law which really benefited me in my Final Year in UCC.

Living in Shanghai also brought with it some unique experiences, from celebrating National Tomb Sweeping Day to meeting the Taoiseach on his Trade Mission in China. On days off, I took the opportunity to travel around Asia, and visited Indonesia, Beijing and Hong Kong among other fascinating places.

My exchange year studying in ECUPL was the first part of an overall LL.M degree in International Economic Law. When I graduated from UCC, I was able to apply to complete the remaining credits of the LL.M. I first completed a work placement with a commercial law firm in Dublin where I gained exposure to a vast array of interesting and challenging work with international clients. The final requirement is writing a thesis which I am currently working on. I will be returning to Shanghai to finish writing it supervised by a professor in ECUPL and all going well I will graduate at the start of the summer.

I am very grateful for the opportunity to have studied and gain an LL.M from a Chinese University. No other university in Ireland offers such a chance for students. For those looking for a year abroad with a difference, I can’t recommend the placement in ECUPL enough.

 

Aidan Burke, BCL (International) graduate

Letter from Shanghai

Students on the BCL International can take a year in Shanghai…here’s a letter from one student currently studying there at the East China University of Political Science & Law (ECUPL).

East China University of Political Science & Law – The China Option

 

Confronted with the list of options for your year abroad, it can be a bit confusing. After all, there are so many great choices and this decision will affect you in countless ways. Shanghai is a hard one to skip over though, or at least it was for me. The chance to live in this vibrant city is not one to be underestimated. It may be a brave choice, a bit more of a culture shock than some of the others, but it should read “Adventure Ahead” next to it; as that is exactly what is in store for those bold enough to study here.

 

Getting off the plane, you will begin to wonder what on earth you are doing here. I know I did, as did many of my other friends here. It takes a few days to adjust, but once you have the place really opens up. The campus is a mix of traditional Chinese architecture with the likes of what you would find in UCC, so it is a good base to settle in. The dorms make it so easy to meet people; I knew no one in the whole continent coming over and within hours I had already made my first few friends. People from all over Europe as well as Asia live there so thankfully there was no need to worry, people do speak English. Be warned, the same can’t be said for many people around campus so a couple of practical phrases written in characters might come in handy. The last thing you need after a long flight is to be wondering around campus with all your bags because no one knows what the word ‘dorms’ means. Chinese drop loos also need a little bit of adjustment, but eventually you stop thinking of them as so weird.

 

As for the city, it makes everyday exciting. From food stalls heaped high to bicycles and motorbikes speeding around the corners, parts of it truly live up to ‘Chinese’ cliché and satisfy the craving for that stereotypical idea in your head. There are many Temples and gardens to visit and the food is so delicious you will never want to stop eating (experimenting and trying new things definitely pays off). However the Western influence is unmistakeable, the skyscrapers and shopping malls are just like any other city, although on a massive scale, and many familiar brands and shops are to be found. The subway makes it easy to explore, and if you get lost the taxis cost close to nothing. There is always something going on; I have a schedule so packed I am starting to forget what being bored even feels like. From joining clubs (I joined the GAA, even though I hadn’t even watched it at home) to being invited to social events and shows, there is never a dull minute.

 

There are a few quirks to the city and the country worth mentioning, both positive and negative. People do take an interest and might stare or take photos of the “wàiguó rén”; it can get tiring but you just have to be flattered they find you so interesting. The traffic system can seem chaotic, and crossing the road should not be done without a good look around – vehicles and bicycles appear from nowhere. There is a real love of music and dance here, there are karaoke houses everywhere and people belting out their favourite songs are to be found in a lot of the parks and open areas. Even more impressive, strangers get together in big groups to do all sorts of dance – it is quite a nice bonus to be walking home and see people young and old waltzing around on the pavement.

 

It is also a great platform for travelling a bit further afield. I had only arrived three weeks when the Golden Week holiday took place, so I recommend knowing in advance when the next break is so that you can plan. I was lucky enough to see the Anhui province and Yellow Mountain, one of the best holidays I’ve ever had, and can’t wait to tick a few more items off my bucket list.

 

So somehow, I have woken up six weeks later and realised I am having the best time of my life, with some of the most interesting people I have ever meet. It isn’t the right choice for everyone. You need to keep an open-mind, be up for a change and have some spirit of adventure. Just like all places, there are many things that will annoy you – the Wifi disconnects all the time, organisation is not always optimal and the time difference makes staying in touch less than easy. You will have days you love it, and those when you want nothing more than to be having a cup of tea at home. For me though, it was one of the best decisions I ever have made and, already, I can’t imagine ever wanting to leave!

 

Ashleigh Hayman, BCL (International) 3 (2013/14)

Welcome to UCC Law International Blog

We welcome International students at the Faculty of Law, University College Cork.  Students from all over the world study law at UCC at both undergraduate and postgraduate level and our students (and staff) travel all over the globe on work and study placements.  This blog hopes to capture some of that experience.