September 20, 2016, by Guest Blogger
Introducting The European Law Students’ Association (ELSA)
Want to hone and publish your legal writing? Apply for traineeships abroad? Experience international decision making at the highest level? Welcome to the best and biggest law student association that you will ever join!
The European Law Students’ Association (ELSA) is the largest law student association in the world, with over 42000 members across 300 law faculties in Europe. Comprised of local and national groups, under the supervision of the International Board, ELSA has created a uniquely international social environment in Europe where law students can acquire invaluable legal skills and make friends for life.
Haven’t heard of it? Don’t worry – I hadn’t either. At the end of my first year (way back in 2014!), I heard about ELSA for the first time after attending the UK Environmental Law Association’s Annual Conference in Edinburgh. The student advisor, an ex-student of the University of Sussex, mentioned ELSA in passing as he passed on valuable careers advice. Little did I realise at the time that it would completely change the next three years of my student experience.
At that time, ELSA Nottingham did not exist. And if a local group doesn’t exist in your area, you have to fight to become an individual member directly with ELSA UK. In my case, I heard about ELSA in June, became a member in July, applied for an ELSA delegation in August and flew to Geneva to attend the 27th Session of the UN Human Rights Council in September.
Delegations are one of the six flagship projects in the ELSA network, whereby ELSA International selects members to represent the network at international organisations (such as the United Nations bodies). Whilst I won’t play down the competitive application process, I will highlight that we sent three members on delegations within our first active year: I went on a second delegation to the Council of Europe, my outgoing co-President also went on a delegation to the United Nations in Geneva and my incoming Secretary General went on a delegation to the United Nations in New York. Cool, right?
We also sent three members to various countries for summer ELSA law schools (SELS) organised by other local groups, we had three members appointed as researchers in the latest international legal research group and we had two members receive traineeship offers through the Student Traineeship Exchange Programme (STEP). Who knows, you could be next!
As well as adding that unique sparkle to your CV, ELSA also prides itself on nurturing cross-culture connections and friendships. Members naturally share a refreshing open-mindedness as well as an unquenchable wanderlust. Many of our members were outgoing and incoming study abroad students – something which tends to be reflected on our society committee too. As a Law with French and French law student, ELSA enhanced my third year by allowing me to forge connections throughout France.
Becoming active within the network helped me to make a more informed decision on where to go, as I knew I had friends from my first delegation and summer law school to welcome me in Toulouse. That year, I also managed to satiate my travel desires by couchsurfing my away around the continent visiting the rest of them! Though I don’t see them as often as I would like, I feel truly lucky to have friends in Vienna, Gothenburg, Oslo and Amsterdam… friends who have made me homemade Wiener schnitzel and introduced me to fika.
In the UK, the network is still growing. That said, we are incredibly proud to have fully established a local group in Nottingham during the 2015-16 term. This means that ELSA is right on your doorstep; you don’t have to lose time waiting to discover it or fight to become a solo member. Lucky for you, I’ve saved you from missing out – from losing that first year. You are in an enviable position: this year, you can expect skills and STEP workshops, ELSA Day events related to Migration Law (30th November), a delegation to the Autumn National Council Meeting in Aberdeen and even an Institutional Visit to Vienna in 2017!
Not quite convinced? Still have some questions? Want to verify my story?! Challenge accepted – see you at Freshers’ Fair!
By Jessica, President of ELSA Nottingham