International Grant Projects at UC Law SF Impact the Globe

Jessica Vapnek (bottom left), faculty director of the International Development Law Center at UC Law SF, helped lead a legislative drafting workshop on fisheries regulations for delegates from Pacific nations in New Caledonia in February.

From helping develop curriculum for law schools in Africa to promoting sustainable fishing in the Pacific islands, UC Law San Francisco has been awarded multiple grants for projects that impact the globe.

These projects facilitate lasting exchanges with foreign law schools, institutions, and intergovernmental organizations. They are managed by the International Development Law Center at UC Law SF, which launched in 2022.

Morris Ratner is provost and academic dean at UC Law San Francisco.

“It’s a privilege to be involved in this many international development projects, and we are fortunate at UC Law SF to have a dedicated center focused on this work,” said Morris Ratner, provost and academic dean of UC Law SF.

Based in San Francisco with more than 1,000 law students, UC Law SF is home to 16 flagship centers dedicated to the interdisciplinary study and practice of law, including the International Development Law Center.

Projects coordinated by the center provide unique opportunities for law students, faculty members, alumni, and affiliated experts to use their legal skills and expertise to tackle global problems.

Fisheries Management

UC Law SF student Margaret Von Rotz, JD ’23, researched and analyzed laws and policies in Tonga for a recent grant-funded international development project.

As part of a project to develop effective legislation for coastal fisheries in the Pacific Islands, UC Law SF student Margaret Von Rotz ’23 researched and analyzed laws and policies for small-scale fisheries in Tonga. Her research included looking at the role of women in small-scale fisheries, climate change readiness for people who fish, and ways to avoid overfishing. She compared the laws and policies to United Nations guidelines as part of a project funded by the Pacific Community, an intergovernmental organization based in New Caledonia. Von Rotz is one of several UC Law SF students that served as externs working on fisheries, climate change, and oceans.

Jessica Vapnek (center) and three delegates from Pacific countries dressed as fisheries officers for a legislative drafting workshop training exercise in Noumea, New Caledonia, in February.

More recently, Jessica Vapnek, faculty director of the International Development Law Center, traveled to New Caledonia to help lead a legislative drafting workshop for fisheries and legal officers from across the Pacific Region.

Vapnek said, “The workshop brought together government officials who took an asynchronous legislative drafting course that we had prepared and administered in fall 2022.” Two UC Law SF alums – Peter Boaz ’14 and Alexandro Sauerwein ’20 – helped review assignments from the course throughout the fall semester.

Food Safety and Sustainable Farming

Arturo Reyes ’19 contributed to an audit report to evaluate the legal advisory branch of a major U.N. agency.

Working with a team to evaluate the legal advisory branch of a major United Nations agency, UC Law SF alumnus Arturo Reyes ’19 and JD student Jillian Guernsey ’23 gathered data from interviews, surveys, and internal documents. Their work was used in an audit report on the Development Law Service (LEGN) of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which provides legal advisory services to nations on issues related to food, agriculture, and the environment.

In a related grant project from the World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH), Vapnek and several UC Law SF students created a written resource to help countries evaluate how well their legislative frameworks address antimicrobial resistance. Kelsey Galantich ’20 has been working with WOAH since before graduation, when she served in a credit-bearing externship while at WOAH headquarters in Paris. She now works for WOAH in Botswana, analyzing legislation from around the Africa region.

Professors Abraham Cable and Leo Martinez reviewed draft Ethiopian law textbooks and doctrinal topics.

Legal Education in Ethiopia

UC Law SF provided quality control and support to a local evaluation team from the University of Bahir Dar Law that assessed 33 LLM programs in Ethiopia, including reviews of curriculum, staffing, placement, and other topics. Professor Lois Schwartz and Master of Studies in Law (MSL) alumna Meron Agonafer ’21 supported the team. The project was funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by Millennium Partners, a U.S. small business. Several UC Law SF professors, including Abraham Cable and Leo Martinez, have reviewed draft Ethiopian law textbooks on doctrinal topics.

Legal Education in Kosovo

Faculty members from law schools in Kosovo and Ghana recently visited UC Law SF to learn more about its educational programs.

With a goal of improving critical thinking education and skills for Kosovar law students, UC Law SF is reviewing law school curriculum, training Kosovar law professors on active learning techniques, and supporting the University of Pristina to improve its clinical legal education. Associate Dean for Experiential Learning Gail Silverstein and Professor Betsy Candler travelled to Kosovo last fall to evaluate curriculum and the status of clinical legal education. The project is funded by the U.S. State Department Bureau of Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.

As part of this project, three faculty members from the University of Pristina in Kosovo – Law Professor Qerkin Berisha, Vice Dean of Law Clinics and Labor Market Muhamet Vokrri, and Law Faculty Dean Avni Puka – visited UC Law SF in January to get a firsthand look at the school’s clinical programs. Vokrri said information gathered from the trip will support his school’s plan to launch a new Law Clinic Center in the fall, “That’s why we’re here to see this model. These clinics are some of the best.”

Legal Education in Ghana

Dr. Francisca Kusi-Appiah of Ghana learned about UC Law SF clinical programs during a campus visit in January.

Another project is supporting law professors at the University of Professional Studies, Accra, as they adopt more analytical skills-based curriculum. Funded by a grant from the U.S. Embassy in Ghana, the project will include short courses on human rights, data privacy, and other topics taught by UC Law SF faculty members.

During a visit to the UC Law SF campus this winter, Dr. Francisca Kusi-Appiah of Ghana said she received valuable advice about launching legal clinics, including on why it’s important to pick cases that can be resolved within one semester.

“Our hope is to establish lasting partnerships with these foreign law schools, as this benefits all of us,” Vapnek said. “It’s hard to imagine any societal problem that doesn’t have a global dimension – and all of these international opportunities help our students navigate an increasingly interconnected world.”