There has never been a better time to study international law at the Florida State University College of Law and as the chapter president of the International Law Students Association (ILSA), I have been in a unique position to see the work that has gone into expanding international programs here. It has been a rewarding experience witnessing these efforts throughout the College of Law as well as how they are producing results.

My organization, ILSA, is devoted to supporting, expanding and promoting the study of international law. The Chapter’s immediate past leadership did an amazing job laying the groundwork and foundations for this group, including nearly doubling the official membership, and we have taken that and run with it. In a similar fashion we have doubled the official membership from what we had last year. As a result, the student body here is fired up about the possibilities of augmenting their legal education with the tools to deal with an increasingly international, cosmopolitan legal community and business environment. 

Student interest would not amount to much without the support of the administration and College of Law faculty, and they have been overwhelmingly supportive. Our Dean for International Programs, David Landau, has been instrumental in providing opportunities, both old and new. One of the most recent has been the opportunity for College of Law students to assemble a team to compete in the Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot Court competition, one of the most prestigious international moot court competitions in the world. The competition focuses on disputes between companies across international boundaries and settling those disputes through arbitration, as opposed to litigation. Practice rounds are held in Florida but the competition itself takes place in Vienna, Austria. Five competitors are chosen and are flown there for the competition.

The College of Law also fields a Philip C. Jessup International Moot Court team every year. The competition focuses on disputes between countries that can involve anything from immigration issues to disappearing land masses.  No, really! The problem last year involved a country sinking into the sea, and determining what rights they have after that happens. This team also consists of five members and the team travels throughout the Southeast. The final round is being held in Washington, D.C. in front of justices from the International Court of Justice.

There are also exchange programs, externships (including one at the International Bar Association headquarters in London) and an array of study abroad options including options in Australia, China, England, and the Netherlands.  The most popular study abroad program is the Summer Program at Oxford, in England. I had the privilege of studying at Oxford last summer and it was an incomparable experience. Participants get to stay in the oldest hall on campus, St. Edmund Hall, which is gorgeous and right in the middle of historic Oxford. They also get to study under Oxford Dons (faculty) and take courses that are not offered in Tallahassee. 

In addition to the international program options already mentioned, the international law courses offered in the College of Law curriculum are diverse and very interesting. Some blend international law with other areas of law. Examples include Professor Landau’s International Arbitration and Litigation course, Professor Fernando Teson’s International Criminal Law course, and Professor Frederick Abbott’s International Aspects of Intellectual Property and Trade Law course. There are also courses in International Business Transactions, Immigration and Refugee Law, and International Environmental Law. 

All it takes is crossing a national border and instantly business, environmental, tax, criminal, or finance law becomes international law. I am getting an education to prepare me for those circumstances when my law firm or company has an international issue requiring someone who can adjust to the completely different rules and procedures. I believe that this will make me a more valuable asset to my employer. On top of that, it is fascinating to work with different laws, cultures, and customs.  Oh, and you have the opportunity to travel, and I love traveling.

If you want to learn more about international programs at the Florida State University College of Law, feel free to e-mail me at bay03@my.fsu. Cheers!

Image  – Bryan Yasinsac, 2L

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