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Penn Carey Law Delegation at International Law Weekend

November 15, 2023

Each October, the American Branch of the International Law Association (ABILA) presents International Law Weekend (ILW) in New York City. This two-and-a-half-day conference typically features over 30 panels, and many of the world’s leading international lawyers and diplomats participate.

At ILW, participants can acquire exposure to new areas, hear debates between legal experts on hot topics, connect with peers and mentors, and gain insights into a wide world of possibilities after law school.

The theme of ILW 2023, held October 19–21, was “Beyond International Law.” Five Penn Carey Law students—Andrés Armada L’25, Camille Awono L’25, Bhurinuch Banchajarurat LLM’24, Sienna Colburn L’26, and Mary Su L’26—attended as the Law School’s delegates to the event.

2023 ILW Delegation ILW 2023 opened at the New York City Bar Association on Thursday, October 19, and continued at Fordham University School of Law on Friday and Saturday. The program featured distinguished speakers on a range of internationally themed topics, as well as conference-wide receptions, more than a dozen community and committee networking rooms, and opportunities to meet with legal book publishers. Colburn described it as “an immersive opportunity to engage with international law concepts and practitioners that departed from the frequently buttoned-up version of the law one encounters in books.” Armada agreed, saying that “each panel was so specialized that it felt like a unique opportunity to learn more about subjects that … law schools might not even offer, nor intend to.”

In addition, the program included a career session for students and young lawyers, book talks, and the chance to connect with members of other ILA branches. “This opportunity to meet students from around the country, all with the same intense interest in these niche subject matters and with an intent to practice in this field, is something that I truly appreciated,” said Armada, and “the … opportunity to meet and establish a network with truly international attorneys and academics, working and teaching in the international field, couldn’t be found anywhere else.”

Awono had two personal goals in mind for ILW: to learn how international law could be a home for her interest in transactional work and client-facing impact, and to develop a better understanding of the intersection between international law and other disciplines. “I could not have imagined how insightful, educational, and inspiring the program would truly turn out to be,” she said.

For Banchajarurat, networking was a primary goal, and he was not disappointed. “I was impressed with … the opportunity to build connections with international law practitioners, students, academics, international lawyers from law firms, and other like-minded people,” he stated. “I used several networking forums provided by the International Law Association … to express my interest in international law, share and discuss the current emerging issues and traditional norms of international law, and build connections with people. This was an absolutely great opportunity as I got to know law students from other schools.”

Banchajarurat was further able to expand upon his Penn Carey Law “Borders and Boundaries in International Law” class experience, as his professor for that course, Andrea Mitchell University Professor in Law, Political Science and Business Ethics Beth Simmons, was part of an ILW panel on border governance. The panel “provided valuable insights into the evolving legal paradigms surrounding border governance,” Banchajarurat said, including “recent developments in international law, such as the impact of global crises, changing geopolitical dynamics, and emerging technologies on border management strategies.” He later shared what he had learned from the panel with his “Borders and Boundaries in International Law” classmates.

Colburn, a 1L, called ILW “intellectually stimulating” and appreciated it as “a means to re-engage with international law during a tense time of doctrinal 1L classes.” Armada, on the other hand, was glad to have been attending as a 2L who had already taken several international law courses and thus had a strong grounding in the academics.

The Penn Carey Law delegates remarked on the timeliness of the event, given the upheaval in the Middle East. With “Beyond International Law” as the weekend’s theme, the opening panel tackled questions related to the credibility of international law and current events in the Middle East. “This panel set the tone for the rest of the weekend,” Awono said. Further, she stated, “after days of discussing the issue with friends and acquaintances and reading articles chronicling the devastation, it was refreshing, in a way, to hear from professionals who have a much stronger grasp of international law and foreign relations.”

For Armada, the ILW had two strong components: “The sheer amount of knowledge and expertise about a subject that is rarely spoken of during the typical law school experience all packed into one building, and the unique networking opportunities that an event like this creates.”

“The lectures represented the sweeping reach of international law,” observed Colburn. “From the oceans to the digital sphere to outer space, speakers addressed how international law has the opportunity to depart from its … normative framework of words in treaties to touch lives in sometimes unexpected ways.”

“I was immersed in a whirlwind of engaging discussions, thought-provoking panels, and networking opportunities, all of which left an indelible mark on my perspective of international law,” said Banchajarurat. “My experience at ILW 2023 was awesome.”

See the full 2023 ILW program here.

Learn more about opportunities for student leadership and networking at the Law School.