Today’s interview is with Miranda Lalla, a foreign law intern working with Foreign Law Specialist Tariq Ahmad in the Global Legal Research Directorate of the Law Library of Congress.
Describe your background.
I am from Montreal, Canada, a city known for its bell towers, poutine, and the “Bonjour-Hi!” of its bilingual natives. I grew up in a predominantly anglophone borough but spoke French during school hours and a Southern Italian dialect at home with my parents, who are imports from the ankle of the Italian boot.
My interest in world politics can be attributed to my upbringing. Through the melting pot of my city’s immigrant population, I was constantly exposed to a variety of cultures and realities. International grocery stores were lined with newspapers spanning every continent, and I learned of traditions and value sets and new flavors over my friends’ dinner tables. As I grew up, this evolved into an interest in world news—marked by far too many magazine subscriptions and countless hours watching Fareed Zakaria GPS, a foreign affairs program. When it came to specializing my law degree, international law was the most natural choice for me.
What is your academic/professional history?
I recently obtained my undergraduate law degree (LL.B.) from l’Université de Montréal. I pursued a specialization in international law, which was comprised of comparative law courses at the University of Doshisha (Japan) and the University of Muenster (Germany), as well as a semester abroad at l’Università Degli Studi di Milano (La Statale) (Italy). In Milan, at La Statale, I was granted the opportunity to study newly emerging fields of international public law within the context of current affairs, such as green city development, artificial intelligence and digital transformation, sustainable development, and gender justice. I decided, then, that I would pursue my studies in public international law after graduation and dedicate myself to the legal framework of global peace and security. In the fall of 2022, I will be relocating to the Hague in the Netherlands to start an advanced LL.M. in public international law, at Leiden University’s Grotius Centre. I will be specializing in peace, justice, and development.
How would you describe your job to other people?
At the Law Library, every day is different! Interns are tasked with monitoring legal developments in their country of specialization, as well as conducting analysis on the state of the law in response to questions from both public patrons of the Library and members of Congress. I never know what I will be tasked with researching next, but once it is assigned to me, I get to feel like a temporary expert on a narrow area of law. By next week, I will have moved onto something completely different! This is a dream job for the “random fact” afficionado.
Why did you want to work at the Law Library of Congress?
Although most law students would agree that legal methodology courses are the thorn in their side, I always felt most at ease scrolling through databases of jurisprudence and squinting at my screen to decipher old digitized legal gazettes. Put plainly, I really like research! Spending my summer doing just that for the team of foreign law specialists at the Law Library of Congress—the institution housing the biggest collection of legal materials in the world—was a dream come true.
I also found the role unique in that, through my research tasks, I was able to contribute to the field of comparative law. I find this to be an endlessly fascinating legal domain, but opportunities to gain experience within it are not an obvious or widely available choice for recent law graduates.
What is the most interesting fact you have learned about the Law Library of Congress?
The absolute best part of this internship has been attending the wide array of webinars the Library has to offer. So, to me, the most interesting fact about the Library is that any member of the public can subscribe to email lists and attend all sorts of legal information events, such as the Lunch and Learn Series! Personally, I will be keeping the Foreign and Comparative Law Webinar Series page bookmarked through my master’s degree to stay in the loop when interesting topics of international law are being discussed.
What’s something most of your co-workers do not know about you?
I have an 11-month old Australian Shepherd/ Labrador mix named Euclid, after the Greek mathematician best known for his treatise on geometry.
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