Margaret Artz’s interest in international law and policy has roots in her early childhood in Lesotho, a small country in southern Africa, where her parents worked in development and education. After graduating from George Washington University with a degree in international affairs, Artz served as an East Africa project assistant for the National Democratic Institute, a Washington-based non-profit organization, and then moved to Tunis, Tunisia, to work as the coordinator of the American cultural center supported by the U.S. Embassy and an educational non-governmental organization. She became interested in earning a law degree during the year she worked in North Africa. “I saw the negative effects of a repressive, undeveloped legal system on people’s daily lives,” she said. “I wanted to learn how a well-established legal system works and reorient my development interest to focus on the rule of law.”
Artz is from Logan, Utah, and when she returned to the states to prepare for the LSAT and apply to law schools, Vanderbilt was “outside my frame of reference,” she recalled. “But I’m a big bluegrass fan, and on a whim, I applied to Vanderbilt and started looking into it. It didn’t take long to know it was the place for me. Dean [Todd] Morton and Professor [Michael] Newton immediately contacted me to discuss my interest in Vanderbilt and opportunities with the International Legal Studies Program. Once I arrived at school, I found this wasn’t unusual. Professors are very generous with their time.”
Artz received the Ramonde I. Paul Scholarship, which is awarded to a student who plans to focus on international law and includes a fellowship with the Nashville Committee on Foreign Relations. She was surprised to discover that “Nashville is actually a really good starting point for a career in international law. The faculty here at Vanderbilt is very active internationally, and their expertise spans transnational business and transactional law, environmental issues, intellectual property, international criminal law and foreign affairs,” she said. “I’ve also found terrific mentors here among faculty and alumni.”
As the Paul Scholar, Artz also attended the annual International Humanitarian Law Dialogs, where she participated in meetings with prosecutors from the world courts, in Chautauqua, New York, in 2011. “This was really a highlight,” she said.
Frequent guest speakers hosted by the International Legal Studies Program have also been an important part of her Vanderbilt experience. Artz was offered an internship with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague, Netherlands, after meeting a judge on the tribunal when he delivered a presentation at the law school. Artz did legal research to support a criminal defense team during summer 2011, and she has continued to work for the team through an externship for credit supervised by Professor Newton. “My work last summer supported the defense team for the Minister of the Interior of the Republika Srpska,” she said. “It was a rare opportunity for a close look at the nascent field of international criminal law and to really examine my commitment to defense and the crucial part it plays in ensuring justice for leaders accused of committing atrocities.”
The courses Artz took during the first half of the summer through Vanderbilt’s Venice Program, including Counterterrorism and Choice of Law, prepared her for her work at the ICTY. “I still had a lot to learn when I arrived in The Hague, but my Venice classes gave me the core international law background to know what questions to ask. I was able to take advantage of the mentorship of international lawyers and judges to make the most of my time at the ICTY.”
Another Vanderbilt in Venice course, International Commercial Arbitration, drew Artz to apply for a position with the international law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer for summer 2012. She was further encouraged by Lexi Menish, Class of 2011, who is an associate in the firm’s New York office. Her prior exposure to international arbitration issues and international legal experience from the previous summer helped Artz with her phone interview with attorneys in Freshfields’ office in Frankfurt, Germany, where spent summer 2012 as an associate in the firm’s Dispute Resolution group. She will join Freshfields in Frankfurt as a full-time associate in 2013 and will take a one-year leave of absence in 2014 to clerk for Judge Kevin Sharp on the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee.
Artz chose Vanderbilt because of the strength of its International Legal Studies Program and dedicated faculty, but she was also attracted to Nashville. “I’ve really benefited from the depth and breadth of Vanderbilt’s international law program and the connections I’ve made have been incredibly helpful,” she said. “But living in Nashville has also been one of the highlights of my law school experience. It’s a town with a great personality. It’s very affordable, with a good restaurant scene and live music everywhere. I know my practice will be internationally oriented, but am so happy to have spent time here.”
Class of 2013
Associate, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Frankfurt, Germany
Ramonde I. Paul Scholar (International Legal Studies scholarship)
Summer 2012, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in Frankfurt, Germany
Summer 2011, International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, The Hague, Netherlands (intern for criminal defense team) and Vanderbilt in Venice
B.A., George Washington University (international affairs, emphasis on conflict and security)