This year, the School of Law welcomed Chiara Giorgetti as its new assistant professor of law. Teaching and writing in the areas of international law, international arbitration, international dispute resolution, and state failure and fragility, Professor Giorgetti has authored over a dozen publications on these topics, and her JSD doctoral dissertation resulted in the publication of her book, A Principled Approach to State Failure, International Community Actions in Emergency Situations, in 2010.
Giorgetti said she was interested in joining the law faculty because of the School's focus on expanding its international law curriculum and programs. For Giorgetti, this meant she could be part of the expansion, including participating in creating new course offerings. "It's very timely that the law school has a more international focus because I think it is essential for students. Whether or not they want to stay and practice law in Richmond, a basic knowledge of international law is now required in all practice, so it's very important that they know the basics of international law." She, Professor Daniel Murphy, and Professor Andy Spalding are currently teaching international law courses, including international law, international arbitration, and international courts and tribunals, but she plans to increase the law school's offerings.
She also plans to focus on recruiting speakers to present international law topics to students, and she'd like to introduce more short-term classes featuring international practitioners.
Giorgetti plans to expand the opportunities for students to practice in international law firms and organizations as well as study abroad. She also hopes to foster an exchange program at the law school. She explained, "There's already an incredible base that exists here. The University's international program has established exchange programs with a lot of other universities." She said she hopes that more law students will take advantage of those study abroad and exchange programs at the University. "If students want to spend a semester or even a year, there are opportunities that exist already, and I think we can make them more known." Giorgetti also noted that the law school currently has five international students who bring different backgrounds and perspectives to the program. She added, "I think that is a very nurturing exchange."
A native of the northeastern section of Italy, Giorgetti said she knew she wanted to focus on international law while attending law school in Italy. She received a Laurea in Giurisprudenza (J.D. equivalent) from the University of Bologna School of Law in Bologna, Italy.
During the first part of her career, Giorgetti worked for the United Nations. As a legal consultant and program officer, she spent time in New York and Kenya working on the United Nations Development Programme for Somalia. Giorgetti said she found the work to be incredibly interesting, yet she wanted to deepen her knowledge of certain legal areas, so she decided to pursue an LLM (Masters of Law) and a JSD (Doctorate in Law) at Yale Law School in New Haven, Ct.
Upon completion of her LLM, Giorgetti was selected as a clerk at the International Court of Justice in the Hague, where she worked on every case in the docket at the time.
Giorgetti then practiced international law in firms in Geneva, Switzerland, and Washington, D.C. She explained, "I thought the international litigation, especially, was very interesting. I represented Eritrea in several cases, including its boundary dispute with Ethiopia. I was also counsel at the UN Claims Commission. I thought representing States was incredibly interesting—you have all of the complexities of international law, but you also have the international politics and relations prespectives—so there were many things I found very captivating."
While practicing international arbitration at White & Case, LLP's Washington, D.C., office, Giorgetti also began to teach law as an adjunct professor at the Georgetown Law Centre in D.C. "That made me realize that what I really enjoy is teaching and being engaged with students." She noted that teaching a new class this semester has prompted her to see things in a different way and learn from the students. She added, "I love being an academic—it's wonderful."
Giorgetti is also an active member of the American Society of International Law (ASIL) and co-chaired its 2011 annual meeting. She also founded and co-chairs ASIL's Interest Group on International Courts and Tribunals. She explained, "It is really the international law society—I feel at home, and they always organize very high quality events to foster the knowledge of international law."
She encourages her students to get involved in ASIL-sponsored events. "I tell all of my students to go if they are interested in international law, and they have an annual meeting in Washington, D.C., every Spring." The three-day conference features thirty to forty panels with speakers from all over the world. Presenters cover international law topics such as dispute resolution, human rights, and environmental law. "There are speakers from academia, professional, and international organizations, so that there is a lot of diversity and all the major issues of international law are addressed." She also noted that Richmond Law has become one of ASIL's academic partners, so UR students receive special discounts on event registrations.
When asked what she loves about her job, Giorgetti exclaimed, "Everything!" She added, "I love working with students, I love teaching, and I love doing research." This year, she also had the opportunity to speak at symposia at Vanderbilt, Penn Law School and Baltimore University School of Law. "It's nice to build those bridges with other law schools and talk to other professors to see what they are doing."
Giorgetti is currently working on several papers and presentations, including an article on the selection of arbitrators in international investment disputes and an edited volume on the Chevron-Ecuador dispute. As state failure is one of her research interests, she's planning to write a paper on Somalia's return to the international community over the Summer.