Recent UVA Law LL.M. Graduates Earn Orrick Fellowships to Train at International Courts

Orrick Fellow Maria Alvarez LL.M. '15

Orrick Fellow Maria Jose Alvarez LL.M. '15 said she enjoyed her UVA Law experience, which she shared with husband Mauricio Guim, an S.J.D candidate, and their newborn son.

May 26, 2015

Two recent alumni of the University of Virginia School of Law's LL.M. program , Maria Jose Alvarez '15 and Karen Janssens '14, have received postgraduate fellowships to work in prestigious international courts in the coming year.

The law firm Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe sponsors the $55,000 grants, which are available to third-year students or recent graduates of UVA Law who are pursuing clerkships with an international tribunal or constitutional court.

Ecuadorian attorney Alvarez was awarded the Orrick International Law Fellowship to work as a trainee at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in San José, Costa Rica, for one year, beginning in September. The program is designed for young professionals interested in gaining practical experience in the Inter-American System of Protection of Human Rights, its operation and the applicable international instruments. Alvarez will clerk in the legal department.

"I will acquire specific knowledge about the court's case law and how the system can contribute to improve the situation of victims of human rights violations in the hemisphere," Alvarez said. "It will also prepare me to be an effective human rights attorney, as I will gain a better understanding of the human rights challenges occurring in the region."

Karen Janssens
Orrick Fellow Karen Janssens '14 at her UVA Law Graduation

While pursuing her LL.M., Alvarez was a student coordinator for the Human Rights Program and served as a research assistant to Professors Mila Versteeg and Pierre-Hugues Verdier , reporting to them on aspects of international law in Latin American countries. She also worked at the Legal Aid Justice Center in Charlottesville researching U visa cases for victims of serious crimes.

In addition to human rights, Alvarez also has experience in corporate and employment law. She received her law degree from the Universidad Católica de Santiago de Guayaquil School of Law in Ecuador.

Belgian attorney Janssens will work at The Hague in the Netherlands as the Orrick Fellow for the International Court of Justice. UVA Law is one of a select group of American law schools who nominate candidates for a clerkship with the court. The 10-month clerkship is open to graduates of the five most recent classes and requires a profound knowledge of international law and fluency in both English and French. Janssens will start in September.

While at UVA Law, Janssens' focus was international law. As a 2013 Salzburg Cutler Fellow, she was selected by UVA to present her paper on Argentine investment disputes at the Global Seminar on International Law.

She said she is both surprised and enthusiastic about the clerkship opportunity.

"I never thought I would actually get the opportunity to clerk for one of the 15 justices at the International Court of Justice in The Hague," Janssens said. "As a law clerk, I will assist Judge Mohamed Bennouna by conducting legal research, drafting memos and preparing case files. I am very excited about it and I am sure it will be a very enriching and unique experience."

Janssens currently works in litigation and arbitration at an international law firm in Brussels, handling complex commercial disputes for multinational companies. She received her bachelor's and master's degrees in law from the Free University of Brussels.

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