Argentine Professors Eager to Learn About American Human Rights Law as Siderman Fellows
Argentine lawyers Celina Giraudy and Ezequiel Gutierrez de la Carcova have devoted their careers to helping those who have been disenfranchised. The opportunity to spend a year focusing solely on their studies and to learn about human rights law and the legal system in the United States while earning an LL.M. degree appealed to the couple, who were selected to serve as the 2012-2013 Siderman Fellows at Southwestern.
In Argentina, Giraudy worked as a human rights attorney for the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) and the Asociación Civil por la Igualdad y la Justicia (ACIJ), and served as a professor at the University of Palermo. Gutierrez also served on the Palermo faculty as a professor of the Public Interest Law Clinic, as well as for the Human Rights Clinic of ACIJ/University of Buenos Aires. In addition, Gutierrez has served as an Assistant of the District Attorney in Buenos Aires.
During their first semester at Southwestern, Giraudy and Gutierrez took courses in Legal Writing for LL.M., Constitutional Law, Constitutional Criminal Procedure and Interviewing, Counseling and Negotiation. Additionally, Giraudy enjoyed the Women in the Law Seminar taught by Professors Judy Sloan and Alexandra D'Italia. "All of the courses are really interesting," Giraudy said. "The seminar for me is especially interesting. It's not like a lecture. We have the opportunity to discuss more deeply women's issues and discrimination."
Gutierrez appreciated the Youth at Risk Seminar taught by Professor Myrna Raeder and Professor Karen Smith's Constitutional Criminal Procedure course. "I like the case method of teaching the law here," he said. "It's a good way of studying law, and the fact patterns are helpful. In Argentina, it's more of a lecture structure and learning what the law says in the abstract."
Part of Gutierrez' work in Argentina is to coordinate student clinics that take on class action cases to fight for social justice. The matters typically involve issues of discrimination related to sexual orientation, minorities and people with disabilities. He also advocates on behalf of those who struggle for basic needs such as access to clean water.
Both Giraudy and Gutierrez, who met during their professorial work, teach courses in human rights issues, legal writing and legal practice for first-year students. "But we always try to relate all of our courses to human rights issues because that's our area of expertise," Gutierrez said.
During the Spring semester, Giraudy is participating in the Street Law Clinic while Gutierrez works in the Immigration Law Clinic. They are excited to learn about how clinics are structured here. "The clinical programs we teach in Argentina are basically an export from the U.S., so it's going to be very interesting to see [first-hand] how they are taught here," Gutierrez said.
At the end of the academic year at Southwestern, both will extern for the ACLU for three months before returning to Argentina. "That's what made the scholarship even more appealing to us," Giraudy said. "We are excited to gain experience in both the theoretical and practical aspects of being a human rights attorney."
They both have enjoyed learning about the jury system in the United States, especially for criminal cases, which stands in contrast to the oral trials held before three judges in Argentina.
Both look forward to bringing the knowledge they acquire at Southwestern to their native country when they return in August. For now, they are enjoying all that Southwestern and Los Angeles have to offer. "Everyone at Southwestern is extremely kind and supportive and understanding of our language boundaries," Giraudy said. "We're having a wonderful experience."