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An Interview with Zeynep Timocin Cantekin, Foreign Law Intern

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Today’s interview is with Zeynep Timocin Cantekin, a foreign law intern working with Foreign Law Specialist Jenny Gesley at the Global Legal Research Directorate of the Law Library of Congress.

Describe your background.

Zeynep Timocin Cantekin standing in the main hall of the Library of Congress.
Zeynep Timocin Cantekin. Photo by Geraldine Dávila González.

I was born and raised in Istanbul, Turkey. After finishing my undergraduate degree in Istanbul, I first moved to London for law school, and then to Florence, Italy, with my husband, where I got my Master of Laws (LL.M.) degree. In 2017, we decided to move to the U.S., and before settling down in Washington, D.C., we spent a couple of years living in Lexington, Kentucky, to be close to my father.

What is your academic/professional history?

I graduated from Koç University in Istanbul with a bachelor’s degree in international relations and a bachelor’s degree in economics. During my studies, I had the opportunity to spend a semester at Georgetown University as an exchange student, and live abroad for the first time.

Later, I earned a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) at SOAS, University of London. In my last year of law school, I discovered my interest in intellectual property law, and I decided to do an LL.M. in this field to build on the introductory courses I took previously. At that time, I was living in Florence, and was accepted to the LL.M. program in comparative, European and international laws of the European University Institute (EUI). At the EUI, the LL.M. program is predominantly research-centric and designed to be a bridge between a more traditional LL.M. and a doctoral program. As I worked on my thesis, I learned and practiced the value of research and developed as a scholar. In my LL.M thesis, I conducted a comparative analysis of the U.S. and EU patent laws on the patentability of genetic inventions as a healthcare policy tool to increase the availability of personalized medicine. I also worked as a senior editor for the EUI’s law journal, the European Journal of Legal Studies.

How would you describe your job to other people?

I am working as an intern at the Global Legal Research Directorate under the supervision of Jenny Gesley. I research and contribute to reports and Global Legal Monitor articles on recent developments in European Union law, which fits me perfectly, because I was trained in European Union law during my master’s studies. Most recently, I also helped research legal questions under Canadian law for a multi-jurisdiction report, which is not too unfamiliar to me because of my background in English common law.

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

Since moving to Washington, D.C., I wished to continue growing in my role as a legal researcher, and when I found out about this internship, it was a perfect fit for me! After my academic years in Europe, this internship is an amazing and natural next step in my career. This experience helps me keep up with the current legislative developments; a welcome change after years of studying more of the evolutionary and theoretical side of the law.

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

I never knew how many people in different roles it would take to run the world’s largest law library! It is probably quite cliché, but I believe it is one of those things you don’t really realize unless you experience and see it for yourself. Also, I never imagined that there would a great team of (foreign) legal specialists doing legal research in the Law Library, which is very fitting of course. Lastly, I was most amazed by the sheer scale of the sub-basement stacks and the number of rare books in the collection.

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

I love playing board games, and for a few months, as a family, we have been obsessed with the board game called Catan. Although it is a quite peaceful game, it can get quite competitive too. We even keep a spreadsheet of the number of wins on our refrigerator!

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