A Group of Columbia Law School Students Traveled to Brussels and Luxembourg with Professor Anu Bradford for an Intimate Look at the Workings of the European Union
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New York, February 9, 2015—A meeting with attorneys from the European Council Legal Service. A conversation with advisers who handle inter-institutional disagreements for the European Union. A workshop on antitrust policies at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton. A discussion on antitrust regulation and merger control with an in-house counsel for Google. And a Q&A with Cleary Gottlieb antitrust partner Nicholas Levy.
And that was just the itinerary for Wednesday, Jan. 14, day two of a 10-day study trip to Brussels and Luxembourg organized and led by Columbia Law School Professor Anu Bradford, an expert in international economic law and EU law. The trip, which consisted of more than 20 academic, interactive, and experiential sessions at the European Parliament, European Commission, European Council, European Court of Justice, and private firms, featured meetings with legal advisers, judges, practicing attorneys, and elected officials.
In other words, it was a jam-packed agenda designed to drive home the nuance and significance of European law and policy. The days were so full that discussions continued over breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
“It was a very high-octane look into the functioning of the European Union,” said Alexander M. Weaver ’16, a second-year Columbia Law School student who is also pursuing a master’s degree in European Studies through Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Relations. “It animates the things you usually can only read about in text books.”
The students sat in on a Grand Chamber hearing at the European Court of Justice.
Both Weaver and Lane E. Feler ’15 said their favorite part of the trip was meeting alumnus Anthony L. Gardner ’90, the U.S. Ambassador to the European Union and son of Columbia Law School Professor Emeritus of Law and International Organization Richard N. Gardner, former U.S. Ambassador to Italy and Spain.
“It was incredible,” said Feler, who came to Columbia Law School specifically to pursue a career in international law. “Just the fact that the ambassador is a Columbia Law School graduate makes you realize there are opportunities to get involved in your career in these issues.”
Another highlight of the trip for students was the chance to sit in on a Grand Chamber hearing at the Court of Justice of the European Union. The judges heard a case involving a French national’s fundamental rights challenge to losing his right to vote after a murder conviction, Thierry Delvigne v Commune de Lesparre Médoc and Préfet de la Gironde, C-650/13. Afterwards, the students met with Vice-President of the Court of Justice Judge Koen Lenaerts, who sat on the panel in the case.
“It really came alive for them,” said Bradford, the Henry L. Moses Professor of Law and International Organization and director of the Law School’s European Legal Studies Center who practiced at Cleary Gottlieb in Brussels for two years earlier in her career. “I don’t think they’ll ever read a judgment from the European Court of Justice in the same way.”
Twelve students (three LL.M.s, three second-year students, and six third-year students) were selected for the study trip and co-taught by Suzanne Kingston, a senior lecturer at University College Dublin School of Law. Each had a demonstrated interest in European Union law. They wrote memos on compelling or unsettled European Union legal questions before the trip, gave oral presentations on another topic during the trip, and must individually complete a research paper on EU law now that they have returned to Morningside Heights.
Bradford said the objective for the course was to help students understand EU law in a hands-on environment.
“I always want to make the EU more concrete and complete for my students,” she said. “This was a really good way for them to understand how the institutions relate to one another, and a very personal view of what it’s like to be an EU lawyer across the spectrum. They got to meet the people behind the laws they read and the cases they study.”
“Anu was a wonderful colleague in our Brussels office and we are incredibly proud of all she has achieved in bringing EU law to Columbia Law School,” Levy said. “We were hugely impressed by her students’ knowledge and curiosity and it was a great pleasure to host them in Brussels. I hope we have an opportunity to welcome future generations of Columbia Law School students in the coming years.”
During one morning session on the trip, the students met with the EU’s chief negotiator on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), an agreement being hammered out between the U.S. and the EU. The meeting was also a chance to see Bradford’s scholarship in action. In 2012, Bradford published “The Brussels Effect,” a law review article exploring how the EU influences worldwide markets through the adoption of its regulatory and legal framework.
Feler said the discussions with Google—and separately with Microsoft attorneys—dramatically illustrated Bradford’s theory in action.
“These are American companies and at the end of the day, they can be brought into court in the EU,” Feler said. “It’s just incredible the reach the EU really does have.”
Weaver said the trip was exceptionally relevant and timely.
“It’s amazing how many instances there were in which we actually got to speak with the people making the news,” he said.
At the European Commission, students met with the EU’s chief negotiator on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
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