Memoirs of NYU Law Paris

Last November I was invited to sit on a panel titled “Global Positioning: A Panel on NYU School of Law Opportunities Overseas” because I had participated in NYU Law Paris, a semester of legal studies both at Sciences Po and at NYU Paris, a member of NYU’s global network. The event prompted me to reminisce about my experience overseas.

NYUParis_001The highlight of my semester was the view from my balcony. I could see the entire city of Paris: the Arc de Triomphe, Les Invalides, the towering Montparnasse, the Sacré-Cœur Basilica, and—of course—prominently displayed in the center of the panorama, the Eiffel Tower. This view was the first thing I saw every morning and the last thing I saw every night.

The apartment itself was about 600 square feet and cost nearly half of what I was paying for my walk-in-closet excuse for a bedroom in New York City. One of the reasons I prefer Paris is that there just seems to be more room than in New York. While Paris proper is actually only slightly larger than the island of Manhattan, the superior coverage of the Métro makes it feel smaller and easier to navigate. It helps that the city is a circle. Overall, the pace in Paris is slightly less frantic, and competition for everything from a table at a restaurant to an apartment to the courses at NYU Paris is just a bit less intense than the New York counterparts.

NYUParis2014__horiz_002As for the program, the classes in Paris draw from two pools: courses available through NYU Law Paris and courses offered by Sciences Po, one of Paris’s more prestigious learning institutions. My own coursework was focused on two areas: international arbitration and European Union law. The professors for arbitration were all practicing arbitrators, or arbitration attorneys. International Investment Arbitration was team-taught by Eduardo Silva Romero, head of Dechert’s International Arbitration practice group, and Mark McNeill, a partner in Shearman & Sterling’s Paris office. Both of them were extremely knowledgeable and just pleasant people to be around. International Commercial Arbitration was taught by another team of well-known arbitrators: Dr. Maxi Scherer, who often serves as an arbitrator and is special counsel at WilmerHale in London, and Diego Fernández Arroyo, an arbitrator and professor on loan from Sciences Po. The commercial arbitration class included a trip to the International Chamber of Commerce, where we learned about their International Court of Arbitration, one of the more popular bodies for international dispute resolution.

The coursework surrounding the European Union was also fascinating for someone who had been a novice in European governance beforehand. Many of the classes seemed to relate to and build on one another, and soon we gained a solid understanding of how the European Union influences and enforces the laws of its member states in an effort to create a single cohesive European market.

NYUParis2014__horiz_001One particularly rigorous class was the EU Regulatory Policy Clinic taught by Alberto Alemanno and Lamin Khadar. This course was split into two parts: a seminar that was designed to be the equivalent of a constitutional law course, but in the context of the EU, and a clinic intended to give students practical experience in lobbying the EU’s decision-making bodies. This was by far the most demanding course I took in Paris, but now that it’s over, I am sure glad I did. My project was focused on working with a European consumer rights organization, BEUC, on a lobbying effort to convince the European Parliament to pass a ban on the “no-show” clause, a common, unfair contract term used in consumer airline contracts. Our research led to a lengthy memo discussing potential legal implications of international agreements between the EU and the US, the regulation of pricing and the EU competition laws, and other existing EU directives that may already provide a legal basis for invalidating the “no-show” clause without the need for further legislation.

The clinic took a trip to Brussels to see the headquarters of the European Union and to visit the US mission to the EU. After Brussels, a number of students took the weekend to visit Amsterdam, London, and The Hague. In fact, nearly every weekend, one or more of the NYU Law Paris students went out of town. I personally visited Ireland, Spain, Portugal, and Austria during the semester, not to mention hosting several of my own traveling friends at my flat in Paris. The city is a great hub for European adventures.

If you want a more relaxed semester studying international law while surrounded by beauty, culture, and high-quality cheeses, I highly recommend looking into NYU Law Paris.