On October 20th, the Institute for International Law and Public Policy and the Temple International Law Society has the distinct pleasure of hosting a panel discussing career paths and emerging trends in International Law. At the panel, three distinguished Temple Alumni—Jane Charles-Voltaire, Chris Kim, and Gerard Mekjian—shared their unique career paths and offered insights into their particular areas of international law with the event’s moderator and IILPP co-director, Temple Law Professor Jaya Ramji-Nogales.
Jane Charles-Voltaire, Temple Law ’11, shared her experiences working as a Program Officer for the Haiti and Dominican Republic division of the International Association of Women Judges in Washington, D.C. Prompted to discuss her current projects, she detailed her work promoting Haiti’s new Anti-Trafficking Legislation and shared her experiences working with judges from all over the world. Ms. Charles-Voltaire, who also spent four years in Haiti working with USAID, also offered some advice to the gathered Temple Law students. She encouraged students to build sustaining relationships with Temple’s distinguished International law faculty, emphasizing that those contacts helped her build the international career she so enjoys today.
Chris Kim, a Senior Investigator with the World Bank Group’s Integrity Vice-Presidency unit, also recommended maintaining Temple Law relationships. Additionally, Mr. Kim stressed the importance of foreign language acquisition in the field of international law, noting that students with Chinese or Spanish language skills are particularly valuable to international employers. Mr. Kim, who also worked for the Federal Bureau of Investigation for fourteen years, shared his experiences investigating corruption and fraud allegations related to World Bank projects around the world. Speaking about his investigations in Europe, China, South Korea, Vietnam, and India, Mr. Kim also emphasized the importance of fieldwork, encouraging students pursuing careers in international law to gain real experience working in other countries.
Gerard Mekjian echoed his colleagues’ sentiments, stressing the importance of language skills and field experience. He also encouraged students to be persistent in their international law aspirations. Although international law careers tend to be highly competitive, he advised students to take advantage of the many international opportunities at Temple Law and continue to “push” to achieve their goals. Mr. Mekjian, a graduate of Temple University and Pace University Haub School of Law, currently serves as Acting Associate Counsel within the Office of the Chief Counsel, Refugee, Asylum Law Division (RALD), and a Supervisory Asylum Officer within the Newark Asylum Office of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Refugee, Asylum and International Operations (RAIO) corps. Throughout the event, Mr. Mekjian also shared his experiences as a practicing immigration attorney and as a delegate on behalf of the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Armenia to the United Nations within several sessions of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL).
At the conclusion of the event, the panel remained at Temple to take part in small group discussions with students interested in pursuing careers in international law. These small groups allowed the panelists to give personalized professional advice and engage in open, honest discussions about what it is truly like to work in particular areas of international law.