Penn State Law grad selected for clerkship at UN International Court of Justice

Vanessa McLaughlin
December 11, 2015

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — One of the reasons Younes Saci came to study at Penn State Law was the opportunity to apply for a traineeship program with the U.N.'s International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague, located in the Netherlands. After several rounds in the application process, Saci was chosen and has been clerking for a well-known Russian judge since September.

Penn State Law is one of a select group of top law schools that have been invited by the ICJ to nominate candidates for this prestigious program, and Saci is the first Penn State Law student accepted for a clerkship. For nine months, clerks work directly with members of the ICJ assisting with drafting various documents and opinions, and researching the wide variety of international legal issues presented to the court. 

As a law clerk trainee, Saci’s role consists of assisting an ICJ judge with all phases of litigation: performing complex legal research and analysis in public international law; drafting legal documents such as briefs, written notes, and legal memorandums; attending oral hearings; and assessing objections and oral arguments presented by the international parties in their preliminary objections. ​

“I am getting an amazing experience at the ICJ by being very involved in international litigation,” Saci said. “This clerkship program gives me an opportunity to deal with ongoing cases and provide legal assistance to the judge through all stages of the case.”

To apply, Saci went through a double selection process with the ICJ. First, he applied to, and was selected by, Penn State Law to be the candidate that the law school would nominate to the ICJ. Then, he was selected by the court from an applicant pool of top U.S. and British law school students, including those from Harvard Law, NYU Law, Yale Law, Columbia Law, Michigan Law, and Oxford Law.   

After getting a master’s degree in European and international law in Paris, Saci applied, and was accepted to, the Penn State Law LL.M. Program. He chose the program because of the well-rounded aspects of Penn State Law.

“The school is very equipped — the building, the architecture, the technology. I liked the fact that every class is recorded, which allows students to catch up on their studies,” he said. “What I liked most is the way the professors teach us how to think. The teaching is based on critical thinking.”

This internship at The Hague, the legal capital of the world, provides one of the best learning opportunities for law students seeking a career in international law. The Hague is home to such international tribunals as the ICJ, the International Criminal Court, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, and the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.

“I applied for the ICJ clerkship program because of the challenging and rewarding opportunity in the field of international law,” Saci said. “I’ve wanted to work at the court since my first year of law school.”

In the program, each law clerk trainee is assigned to one judge at the ICJ. Saci clerks exclusively with Judge Kirill Gevorgian, a renowned jurist and former diplomat from the Russian Federation. Saci’s most memorable experience, so far, is when he wrote his first legal memorandum for the judge.

It was Saci’s first assignment at the court, and he didn't know the judge’s expectations of how thorough or in depth an analysis was required. However, after submitting the memorandum, Saci received an email from the judge stating that Saci’s effort was appreciated and the work was useful.

“Working at the ICJ is an opportunity to immerse myself in an international and bilingual environment, where everyone interacts in both languages, English and French,” he said. “I’m improving both my language skills and my international legal skills, and I’m getting an invaluable experience.”  

Saci will be clerking at the ICJ through June 2016.

Last Updated December 18, 2015