After four years studying law in both New York City and Paris, Corinne Champilou ’15, will receive not only a J.D. from Columbia Law School, but also an LL.M. from the Université de Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne. Champilou, who is originally from France, knew pursuing two degrees would be a daunting prospect, but she jumped at the chance to study in Morningside Heights.
“Law school is intense, but the J.D./Master in French Law Program is even more intense,” she says. “I feel so privileged to be doing this, and I wanted to make the most of the opportunity.”
In residence at the Law School during her first two years of the program (the other two were spent in Paris), Champilou served on the Columbia Journal of Transnational Law staff and won the International Alternative Dispute Resolution Mooting Competition in Hong Kong. She also served as a judicial intern for alumnus Jack B. Weinstein ’48, a senior judge on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.
“He is someone who wants the best for you,” Champilou says of the long-serving and distinguished jurist. “Judge Weinstein does not accept mediocrity.”
But Champilou says her most transformative experience while at Columbia Law School was the chance to work as a translator at African Services Committee (ASC), a Harlem agency that helps African immigrants, refugees, and asylum-seekers with issues related to health care, housing, the law, and education. Champilou became involved with the organization while working on a pro bono project with the Law School’s Society for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. At ASC, she was one of few in the office with a legal background who could communicate with French-speaking West African immigrants. Champilou helped clients prepare for their asylum interviews and figure out the best ways to present their cases.
“It was a reminder of what the real world is,” she says. “These are people in serious legal trouble, who have suffered a lot. It makes sense of all the tests we’ve taken as law students. It makes sense of why we practice law.”
Champilou will return to the U.S. this fall to serve as a legal associate at the World Bank in Washington, D.C., working in the institutional administration practice group, which functions as the World Bank’s in-house counsel’s office.
“Working for the World Bank is an amazing opportunity,” she says, “and I am really excited to embark on this new challenge.”