Today’s interview is with Jorge Barrera Rojas, a foreign law specialist for the laws of countries in South America, Central America, and Spain. Jorge recently joined the Global Legal Research Directorate of the Law Library of Congress.
Describe your background
I was born and raised in Chile, a long, skinny country in South America, where I got my first law degree. I came to the U.S. for my master’s in 2016 and returned in 2020 to continue my doctorate in South Bend, Indiana. I am happily married with three beautiful, smart children.
What is your academic/professional history?
I hold a Master of Laws (LL.M.) with a specialization in public interest law and policy from UCLA School of Law (2017). I am a J.S.D. candidate at Notre Dame Law School and a Ph.D. in law candidate at the University of Paris 1 Pantheon-Sorbonne. In addition, I am currently a non-resident fellow at the Stanford Law School Constitutional Law Center.
I worked for several years in the Chilean Congress before the start of my career in a big law firm in Chile, where I was promoted to partner before our family decided to stay in the U.S. I am currently an assistant professor of law at the University of Chile and at the University San Sebastian, where I teach constitutional law, administrative law, a constitutional justice clinic, and international human rights law, among other courses, to J.D. and LL.M. students. In addition, I served as an international human rights fellow for the United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief and as a judicial extern for the Hon. Judge Thomas Kirsch in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.
How would you describe your job to other people?
In short, my work consists of answering requests from Congress, federal agencies, and courts related to the practical application of foreign laws in South America, Central America, and Spain, and how they could impact the U.S. in a legal context.
Why did you want to work at the Law Library of Congress?
It is a fantastic place to work where I can put my knowledge gained from dedicating several years in academia and law practice to use, applying foreign and comparative law in the U.S. legal context.
What is the most interesting fact you have learned about the Law Library of Congress?
I was surprised by how large the Law Library’s law collection is. I have found legal materials that I am sure even the countries themselves do not have in their stands.
What’s something most of your co-workers do not know about you?
Before attending law school in Chile, I worked at McDonald’s for almost 2 years. I have a guilty conscience from all the Quarter Pounders with Cheese.