Jennifer B. Sokoler ’10 traces her penchant for international affairs to her family: As a child, she listened intently to her grandparents’ stories about surviving the Holocaust. Her parents supplemented those impromptu history lessons with annual, monthlong vacations to distant countries, where the family sacrificed the comforts of hotels for the authenticity of staying with local families.
“It was an incredible bonding experience,” Sokoler recalls, “and my parents really made me feel comfortable being in foreign places.”
Thanks largely to those childhood experiences, Sokoler grew up idolizing diplomats like Madeleine Albright, rather than pop culture icons. “It was always very important to me how the U.S. was portrayed in the rest of the world,” says Sokoler, whose student note on the Confrontation Clause appeared in the January issue of the Columbia Law Review.
At the Law School, Sokoler’s interest in international legal studies led her to Tanzania, where she spent seven weeks last summer helping the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda prosecute crimes related to the 1994 Rwandan genocide. This past fall, she focused on global policy issues while working with Professor Sarah Cleveland—who is on leave from the Law School while she serves as the counselor in international law in the Office of the Legal Adviser at the U.S. State Department.
Following her Law School graduation, Sokoler will embark on two prestigious clerkships: the first with Southern District of New York Judge Denise L. Cote ’75, beginning this fall, and the next with 2nd Circuit Judge Robert A. Katzmann. Beyond those experiences, Sokoler, who served as a research assistant to Professor Gillian E. Metzger '95 and Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger '71, envisions a career that encompasses both international legal work and academia. “What I love about academia and government,” says Sokoler, “is that the agendas change daily.”