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Best All-Around Chapter: Thomas Jefferson School of Law (TJSL)

TJSL is the winner of the Best All-Around Chapter Award for 2011. ILS membership represents more than 20% of the student body at TJSL, which is significant as there are 34 other on-campus organizations at Thomas Jefferson. Membership has increased due to the Chapter’s high level of visibility on and off campus, and due to the success and high-caliber of the events the ILS hosted in 2010-2011.

The International Law Society at Thomas Jefferson has gained an incredible reputation not only on campus, but also off campus due to its involvement with many of the most prominent legal organizations in the community. ILS at TJSL has worked closely with the Citizen Diplomacy Council, the United Nations Association, the New Leaders Council, the American Civil Liberties Union, the California Innocence Project, the World Trade Center, the San Diego County Bar Association, the American Bar Association Immigration Justice Project, and many others.

In January 2010, the ILS hosted a very important conference in conjunction with the Center for Global Legal Studies titled “Torture In and By the United States of America.” The goal of this international and comparative law conference was to raise public awareness about the use of torture in and by the United States in other countries of the world. Prominent legal scholars who are experts on the field of torture discussed many of the controversial issues related to the definition of torture, proposed justifications for its use, the international and domestic legal instruments prohibiting torture and its continued use to protect national security. The featured speakers included Professor William J. Aceves from California Western School of Law, Professor Marjorie Cohn from TJSL, Jordan Paust from the University of Houston Law Center and Professor Michael P. Scharf and Professor David Frakt from Case Western Reserve University School of Law.

ILS at TJSL has also established a partnership with Freetown Chesire Home, an orphanage in Sierra Leone. Throughout the academic year, the ILS collected tax-deductible donations from friends, family and generous businesses in the community and channeled the funds to the orphanage. Freetown is both a home and school for girls and boys. These children are physically challenged; many of them are victims of polio. In addition, most of the children are orphans who have been neglected or abandoned because of their handicap. A former ILS TJSL member began volunteering with the Freetown Cheshire Home in 2008 while working at the Special Court for Sierra Leone. Since then, over $7,000 USD in donations has been delivered to the Home. One hundred percent of all donations go directly to the care and well-being of the children in the form of food, medicine, school supplies, clothing, etc.

ILS also hosted its annual fundraiser, Monte Carlo Casino Night. All of the money raised from this event is put towards our scholarship fund. At the end of the school year, we give out a few scholarships to committed ILS members who are interested in studying abroad. This year, our Casino Night is scheduled for the night of Saturday, April 9, 2011. Starting this year, a percentage of the money we raise will be allocated to a new scholarship that will be awarded to one of the four students who will be interning in the Hague during the summer and fall.

Throughout the academic year, ILS at TJSL has organized many different events to promote awareness of global events and understanding of different cultures. For example, last November, Professor Qian Hongdao from Guanghua Law School in China was invited to the school to give a lecture on the Rule of Law in China. Throughout the school year, the ILS also hosted study abroad information sessions with TJSL faculty and faculty from other schools.

Most Improved Chapter: Temple University Beasley School of Law

Temple ILS won the 2011 Award for Most Improved Chapter. Temple ILS is a relatively new addition to our law school’s student organizations. Understanding the immense benefits that an International Law Society brings to a law school campus, the current board, in the Fall of 2010, revived the organization that had long ago lapsed. The board wanted to create an outlet for interested students to connect, share ideas, and learn about the practice of international law. As an emerging organization, the focus was reinstating the charter and promoting interest. Hoping to expand on the previous year’s progress, this year’s goal was to completely revive ILS by engaging as many students as possible, hosting a variety of captivating events, and establishing a solid community with a strong presence on campus. This year, Temple ILS has expanded its membership from less than 10 dues-paying members to 45, and our email listserv currently reaches 160 members.

To increase the student body’s interest in international law, the ILS focused on what sparks the interest of every law student: jobs. Over the past year, Temple ILS tripled the number of international career-oriented events offered to our student body. The ILS partnered with Temple’s Career Services Office and the ABA Section of International Law to sponsor three career panels that showcased the many, varied pathways that can lead to careers in international law. One panel focused on private international law and featured attorneys from large, mid-size, and solo firms. A second panel focused on public international law and featured lawyers from the U.S. Department of State. For the third career-oriented presentation, the lead general counsel at Exelon Business Services was invited to speak to students about his career in international law as an in-house attorney for a large energy provider.

This year’s ILS board identified networking between the JD and LLM candidates as another useful method of increasing student understanding of international law. As practicing foreign attorneys, Temple’s foreign LLM candidates represent a wealth of knowledge regarding international law. In order to facilitate these friendships and professional relationships, Temple ILS hosted its first-ever JD/LLM mixer at Lucky Strike Bowling Lanes. Nearly thirty students attended the event, enjoying bowling, dinner, desert, and connections with new friends from around the globe.

This year, the ILS also hosted the Worldview Wednesday program—a series of bi-weekly lunchtime discussions led by LLM candidates. Each presentation began with a foreign LLM candidate introducing the basic legal structure of his home country, comparing that system to the Anglo-American model, and describing his experience as an attorney there. The presentations ended with a deep discussion of current legal issues facing that country. To add an international flair to the classroom presentation, each LLM also brought a special treat native to his home country to share with ILS members.

Because real-world international experience is critical to a robust understanding of the issues that face international lawyers and scholars, Temple ILS collaborated with the Graduate Studies & International Programs Office to host our first-ever “Study Abroad Information Session.” The focus of this event was to open a forum for students to discuss the benefits of international education, to share travel experiences, and to inform students about the logistics of studying through Temple’s exchange programs. Speakers included six Temple law students who had recently returned from studying abroad as well as four foreign LLM students currently studying at Temple Law. As an indication of the impact of this event, the Dean of International Programs specifically noted an increased interest in the school’s exchange programs.

Another key initiative Temple ILS sought to implement this year was promoting the academic study of international law. To accomplish this goal, Temple ILS forged a new partnership with Temple’s Institute for International Law and Public Policy (IILPP). Together, the organizations sponsored two terrific academic events. First, Zhang Qi, a law professor at Beijing University and Fulbright Fellow at Harvard Law School, came to the school and spoke about the history of legal reform in China and the potential challenges that the nation faces in a search for continued change. In addition, ILS and IILPP co-sponsored an event discussing Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Shell, a recent Second Circuit case which presented a significant question related to corporate responsibility on an international scale. The panelists, lawyers who represented opposing parties in the case, shared their viewpoints concerning the law’s ability to hold corporations accountable for violations of international human rights.

Best Academic International Event: National Law Institute University, Bhopal

The winner of the Best Academic Event for 2011 is National Law Institute University. The Cell for Research in International Law (CRIL) of National Law Institute University, Bhopal established the Bhopal chapter of ILSA in January, 2011. The eventful year of 2010 kicked off with a Panel discussion on “Fighting Corruption and Promoting Governance”, with a special focus on the Commonwealth Games held in India this year. The event was held in collaboration with Transparency International, India (TII) and Prayatna, a NGO working to increase the right to information in India. The panelists were distinguished personalities including Shri S.C. Tripathi, the former DGP of Madhya Pradesh; Shri K.S. Sharma, the former Chief Secretary of Madhya Pradesh; Dr P. Rajagopal, Chairperson; Ms Anupama Jha from Transparency International, India; and Mr Ajay Dubey, Secretary, Prayatna. In general, the speakers expressed that a drastic change in the Indian legal system was needed. Thereafter, a documentary on corruption in the police department written and directed by Mr. Upendra Verma, a former member of the Indian police force, was screened. The event ended with an interactive session between the students and the panelists debating and discussing sensitive questions regarding what should be the standards of law when dealing with issues of corruption. One of the speakers pointed out how corruption internationally may not just be restricted to a political power-play but may be an after-effect of the strategic foreign policy of a nation. When the day ended, participants were left wanting more.

Because of the popularity of the corruption event, a group discussion was organized for student participants from all the colleges of Bhopal for September, 2010. Here, the topic revolved around the relationship between “Corruption and Development”. Then, in December, to mark the International Anti-Corruption day, our chapter, in alliance with TII and Prayatna, organized an interactive session with the youths from various educational institutions. Esteemed speakers from Madhya Pradesh that attended the event included Shri P.P. Tiwari, Chief Information Commissioner; M.P. Shri Surendra Singh, ADG; Shri Sanjay Dubey; Shri Sanjay Saxena; Smt. Meera Singh; Shri Vijay Manohar Tiwari, journalist; and Shri Ajay Dubey, social activist. Also on this occasion, the Advocacy and Legal Advice Centre (ALAC) was formally launched with the primary objective to fight corruption by providing legal information, advice and assistance to victims and witnesses of corruption, thus enabling them to know their rights and pursue complaints. In February, the ALAC became fully operational.

Best International Social Event: Bahcesehir University

The International Law Society at Bahcesehir University is the winner for Best International Social Event for hosting the ILSA Conference “Discussing Global Issues within the Framework of the United Nations.” The Conference will examine the expanding role and influence of the United Nations in international affairs by exploring five sub-topics: the Role of the Security Council in the 21st century, UN peacekeeping (preventing conflict and humanitarian intervention), UN human rights institutions and instruments, and the proliferation of courts within the UN system. In addition to lectures by distinguished academics and practitioners, the conference boasted many social events where the student attendees—from countries around the world—could meet, network, and learn about one another.

Best Philanthropic Event/Activity: Vermont Law School

The Vermont Law School is the winner of the 2011 Chapter Award for Best Philanthropic Event. Each spring, the Vermont Law School ILSA Chapter puts on the Empty Bowl Benefit. Months in advance the Chapter contacts schools and businesses throughout Vermont and New Hampshire to create, decorate, and donate soup bowls made of clay. The Chapter then makes over fifteen gallons of different types of soups and stews. Members of the law school and local community, often including school age children who made bowls themselves, come to the event to purchase a bowl and help themselves to homemade soup. All proceeds of the event are donated to help those in need. The proceeds are donated to an international charity devoted to help end hunger globally and a local food bank. Last year, the Vermont Law School ILSA Chapter donated two-thirds of the proceeds to Heifer International, a nonprofit organization that works with small communities around the world to help stop hunger, and the remaining one-third to the Vermont Foodbank because our local community is part of the larger international community.

On March 15, 2010, the Vermont Law School's International Law Society raised nearly $1,000 at its second annual Empty Bowl Benefit. The money raised this year nearly matched the $1,000 that the ILS students raised in last year's inaugural Empty Bowl Benefit. The event was so successful that the media came and put it on the news and this is the subsequent articles written by a local news outlet. See the story here