The Harrisburg campus International Law Society held a three-person panel discussion on pathways to an international law career on Tuesday, March 15, 2011. The three attorneys on the panel were Julia P. Coelho ‘09, Jon L. Woodard and Timothy Howe.
Julia P. Coelho, Esq., an associate in the International law and business practice groups at McNees, Wallace & Nurick LLC received her bachelor’s degree in Civil Law in Brazil and recently graduated from Widener Law’s Harrisburg campus in 2009.
She explained that practicing international law involves a diverse range of activities including serving as a liaison between counsels abroad. She recommended to students interested in practicing international law that they study abroad because the exposure is helpful and it offers a nice compliment to other experiences on a resume.
Coelho, who is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese in addition to English, noted that speaking additional languages could be helpful but that not being able to do so was not an insurmountable barrier. She also recommended that students look outside Harrisburg for jobs in the international law market, telling to consider relocating to Miami, New York City or Washington D.C. where there are more opportunities.
Jon L. Woodard, Esq., an attorney at MacDonald Illig’s Intellectual Property and Technology Group, told the students that he took every international law course available to him during law school, and he recommended that students interested in international law careers do the same. He also remarked that he transferred during his third year to a school that specialized in international law.
Woodard also explained that International law is not about getting on a plane and flying across the globe every two weeks. Instead, he said, “Most of the work I do is done over the internet or the phone. For instance, this morning I was talking to an attorney in Germany about a current patent case.” He closed by recommending to take advantage of all the opportunities available and even to reach out to professors in the field like he did.
The final panelist, Dr. Timothy Howe, Esq., the general counsel and head of Acquisitions and Licensing Transactions for Sanofi Pasteur, mentioned that he has worked in various countries, including Japan and France, and that he would be traveling to Madrid in April. He explained that the best part of practicing international law is attending his company’s conventions because no two people are on the same time and everyone has different approaches to the complications that causes.