Associate, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Frankfurt, Germany
2014-15, Clerk, Judge Kevin Sharpe, U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee
Raymonde I. Paul Scholar
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’s hometown is 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 Raymonde 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 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 also found terrific mentors among the faculty and alumni.”
Frequent guest speakers hosted by the International Legal Studies Program were an important part of Artz’s Vanderbilt experience. She 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 spent part of summer 2011 doing legal research to support a criminal defense team for the Minister of the Interior of Republika Srpska. “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,” she said.
A course she took in Vanderbilt’s Venice summer study program, International Commercial Arbitration, drew Artz to apply for a summer 2012 position with the international law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. She was further encouraged by Lexi Menish, Class of 2011, an associate in the firm’s New York office. Her classroom exposure to international arbitration issues and international legal experience from Vanderbilt in Venice helped Artz with her phone interview with attorneys in Freshfields’ office in Frankfurt, Germany. After spending summer 2012 working there, she joined Freshfields as a full-time Frankfurt-based associate in 2013. She plans to take a one-year leave of absence to clerk for federal District Judge Kevin Sharp of the Middle District of Tennessee in 2014-15.
Artz chose Vanderbilt because of the strength of its International Legal Studies Program and dedicated faculty, but she also enjoyed Nashville and is looking forward to returning for her clerkship. “I really benefited from the depth and breadth of Vanderbilt’s international law program and the connections I made have been incredibly helpful,” she said. “But living in Nashville was also 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’m so happy to have spent time in Nashville.”