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'Astonishing' visit: Elon Law students learn legal lessons in Europe

Two Elon Law classes traveled overseas in December to witness firsthand the many opportunities - and complexities - of practicing international law and working in intellectual property.

By Leah Britt L’17

Photos by Aarin Miles L'17 and Nate Cook L'17

Elon Law students visited the Netherlands and Italy in December as part of classes with an experiential focus on international law and intellectual property.

Led by faculty members Antonette Barilla and Jack Hicks, the students visited Amsterdam, Florence and Rome, meeting with entrepeneurs, diplomats, Mafia prosecutors - and even cheese producers in Parma concerned about the prolific use of the term "Parmesan" for cheese not produced there.

Students in Hicks’ intellectual property course received an insider’s view of the law and how it applies to the businesses toured during the 10-day European visit.

“We learned the culture of each European nation produces creativity in law application,” said Sean McLeod L’17. “From the protection and encouragement of small businesses, to the assurance that lawyers are well trained, it is clear that the Netherlands and Italy have a steady commitment to protecting the rights and privileges of its people.”

Hicks' class visited Delft University’s Business Accelerator in Amsterdam and met with officials from the Dutch Patent Office and Zebra Legal. They also spent a day at Rockstart, a business accelerator that leads all of Europe with successful business launches.

“Start-up businesses have different legal and business needs compared to mature companies,” Hicks said in a news story published by his law firm, Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, LLP. “For example, they may need help with formation and ownership issues. They typically have less money for legal expenses, so they need smart, bespoke lawyering. Their outside counsel has to help them prioritize their legal needs.”

In the Netherlands, students in Barilla’s public international law course visited the International Criminal Tribunal, the International Criminal Court, regional and local centers for anti-human trafficking advocacy, and the U.S. Consulate. Students had the opportunity to hear closing arguments in the famed Mladic trial, and to hear witness testimony in a high profile genocide trial at the ICC.

“The trial in the ICC was super interesting,” said Aarin Miles L’17, speaking of a defendant accused of numerous war crimes and crimes against humanity. “I was able to see the differences between the way the U.S. court system works and the way the international court system works.”

While in Florence, students in the international law course attended sessions at the Academia Europea di Firenze conducted by Professor Valentina Dolara, renowned international practitioner and professor of international human rights. Students studied the complexities of organized crime and its impact ocn local and global society. The class also met with Alfonso Sabella, a celebrated Italian prosecutor who took to trial many members of famed mafia leaders.

“The mafia set a car bomb off outside of the Uffizi Art Museum to try to destroy the art there. We were able to see the area, and now there is an olive tree planted,” said Jenny LaBeau L’17. “I enjoyed learning about the mafia because … the only idea I had about it came from movies and television. But to learn about how it actually operates was astonishing.”

Students completed their scholastic visits with a private guided tour of the Uffizi Gallery conducted by the Academic Director of the Accademia Europea di Firenze, Antonio Vanni.

About Elon Law:

Elon University School of Law in Greensboro, North Carolina, is the preeminent school for engaged and experiential education in law. It integrates traditional classroom instruction with highly experiential full-time residencies-in-practice in a logically sequenced program of transformational professional preparation. Elon Law’s groundbreaking approach is accomplished in 2.5 years, which provides distinctive value by lowering tuition and permitting graduates early entry into their professional careers.

For more information, visit law.elon.edu.

Eric Townsend,
1/24/2017 5:20 PM