William and Mary Law School

Week One: Latin America in Ireland

It's hard to believe I've been in Galway for almost a week and a half. Time has flown by and I'm really starting to get a feel for my job and the city.

I flew into Shannon last Sunday. By sheer coincidence, my neighbor's old college roommate happens to be Galwegian. He kindly picked me up from the airport, took me to my apartment, and showed me the nearest grocery store. My flatmate also moved in on Sunday. Cliodhna (pronounced Clee-OH-nuh, which I butchered about a hundred times) is also a law student and is training to be a solicitor. It's been interesting to compare our legal education and the different legal training programs in Ireland and the U.S.

I started work last Monday, although I was probably useless the first day from jetlag. My main project right now is an analysis of disability law in Latin America. I am currently the only Spanish-speaker at CDLP so it's a skill that has become handy. Thus far I've been plowing through journal articles, constitutions, U.N. reports, and I've been in contact with experts in the field. It's still a bit strange to be reading and writing in Spanish while I'm still struggling with Irish-accented English, but I'm enjoying the challenge.

Speaking of Latin America, this past weekend was the Little Havana festival in Galway. The older part of Galway is a pedestrian zone and every evening there was music and dancing in the streets. At night it was jam-packed; there were people standing and drinking in the streets. It was very cool to hear a mix of accents and languages and try to spot the Americans, the Spanish, the Canadians, and everyone else who had ventured in what the Irish would call good summer weather (as a Williamsburg native, I'm still pining for 90 degrees).

Today CDLP hosted a talk by Professor Martha Fineman on vulnerability and equality. Admittedly, some of the abstract legal philosophy may have been above my head, but I really enjoyed listening to her discussion of vulnerability, identity politics, and the active state. Her approach to the government's role definitely requires thinking outside of the traditional American view of the state's role and individual autonomy.

I suppose that's all for now. I'll update again soon with my progress at CDLP, my exploration of Galway, and the rest of my experience in Ireland.