By: Lei (Iris) Yu
On April 12-15, 2017, I had the wonderful opportunity to take part in the American Society of International Law (ASIL) 2017 Annual Meeting in Washington, DC, thanks to the support of the Harris Institute. Attending the meeting was an inspiring addition to my final semester at Washington University. Having come from a ten-year career in commercial banking in China and returning to school in the United States, it was refreshing to be able to participate alongside a wide range of professionals willing to engage and share their insights with students and colleagues. As someone hoping to build a new career in international law, attending the ASIL meeting gave me a big push in the right direction.
Volunteering and helping with the ASIL meeting allowed me to access many great opportunities to take part in the conference and to meet other professionals in the international law field. Although I attended many interesting meetings, three highlights stand out:
The International Organizations Interest Group business meeting was especially interesting and exemplified the passion people bring to international work. One professor shared particularly useful advice: in addition to having a passion for what you do, an individual needs to demonstrate the unique value they can bring to an organization, including what makes them particularly effective lawyers, diplomats or advocates. “Know your tool set, improve your tool set and apply your tool set with passion,” they said.
At the International Economic Law Interest Group business meeting, I had the pleasure to speak with one of the presenters, Charles Di Leva, former Chief Counsel of the Environmental and International Law Unit of the World Bank’s Legal Department, who took time to speak with me about career development and opportunities in international law.
Additionally, the New Professionals Interest Group provided great information and advice for young professionals on moving forward with our careers, and included a wide range of mentors that offered even more detailed perspectives and advice. The session was particularly informative and timely as I prepare to finish my last semester of law school.
Participating in the ASIL Annual Meeting was a wonderful opportunity that I recommend to other WashU Law students interested in international law. It allowed me to expand my outlook and vision for a legal career beyond the classroom and helped me to envision the diverse career paths open to international lawyers. The most valuable part of ASIL 2017 was the ability to meet, talk and connect with people who have been or are doing what I aspire to do.