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An Interview with Wilfried Tchangoue, Foreign Law Intern

This week’s interview is with Wilfried Tchangoue, a summer intern working in the Global Legal Research Center of the Law Library of Congress.  It is part of a series of interviews that introduce our summer interns to In Custodia Legis readers.  Enjoy!

Describe your background

Photo by Donna Sokol

My parents are from Cameroon but I was born in Paris, France After graduating high school as a science major, I was sure that my future plans would not include science.  So, I went to law school just to avoid numbers and to be able to continue to play soccer.  Being a lawyer was not really my goal at first.  But, I learned a lot.  I enjoyed the fact that I was learning things that are useful in everyday life.  In addition, learning a trade that can help people was something very enjoyable.  I received my bachelor of business and corporate law from the Université Paris Sud in 2012.

I came to the United States to get my Master of Laws (LL.M) at Penn State University in order to expand my understanding of a legal system quite different from the French civil law system, as well as to discover a different culture and pursue more opportunities.  Upon completing the LL.M program, I was accepted to the J.D. program at the same school, which I will start in mid-August.  This will give me an opportunity to deepen my understanding of the American legal system even more.

How would you describe your job to other people?

I work under the supervision of Edith Palmer, Chief of the Foreign, Comparative, and International Law Division III assist her in finding answers to legal research inquiries on France, Belgium and francophone African countries.  The work is challenging because the research inquiries that come to us tend to involve questions that are difficult to answer.  But, it is also very exciting because there is always a new and interesting assignment to work on and we are never bored.  Working on these questions helps me expand my understanding of subject areas that I have studied and to learn about the laws of different countries.  In addition, it allows me to improve my writing skills because it involves a lot of writing.  I also really appreciate the atmosphere in the office; everybody is very friendly, very respectful and whenever I have questions, there is always somebody ready to help.

Why did you want to work at the Law Library of Congress?

I wanted to work at the Library of Congress because I felt it was an amazing opportunity to work for such a prestigious institution.  I also wanted to work with legal specialists who have training and experience that they bring from different world jurisdictions.  This is a good fit because the projects I work on at the Law Library allow me to use my French legal education in the United States.  I feel very blessed and honored to work here and to assist members of Congress and their staff.

What is the most interesting fact you have learned about the Law Library of Congress?

The collection of law books here is just incredible.  I hadn’t seen a Civil Code from France for a year and I found one here.  The Law Library’s holdings include books from almost every country on earth; it’s very impressive.  The other day I went to the basement and I saw gazettes from countries I had never heard about before.

What’s something most of your co-workers do not know about you?

I have relatives in twelve different countries.  These are the ones I know of; there may even be more.  I can honestly say that I have a truly global family and so it is fitting that I am interning at the Global Legal Research Center (GLRC) of the Law Library of Congress.

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