ND London Law Program hosting largest group of students in program’s history

Author: Denise Wager

Fischerhall Sign2021

Notre Dame Law students are studying abroad with the London Law Program at the highest numbers in the program’s 53-year history.

This semester, 44 second- and third-year law students are studying at the University Notre Dame’s London Global Gateway. Thirty-three students arrived in London in early January for the spring semester, joining 11 students who are completing the full academic year there. This group represents the largest number of students ever to study in the London Law Program during a single semester.

Eighteen students studied in London for the fall 2021 semester, which was when the London Global Gateway reopened after a hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Established in 1968, the Notre Dame London Law Program is the oldest study-abroad program offered by an American law school and the only yearlong overseas program approved by the American Bar Association. Students are taught by prominent British, American, and European legal scholars at Notre Dame’s Fischer Hall, located just off Trafalgar Square. They take courses that fulfill law school requirements, electives with a comparative and international focus, and courses in three pathways of study. Many students in London also are able to complete an externship with British barristers, solicitors, international corporations, government agencies, and local law firms.

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Fischer Hall, where students in the Notre Dame London Law Program take their classes, is located next to Trafalgar Square in central London.

The program is directed by Professor Michael Addo, an international lawyer with expertise in international human rights law and international business policy.

“We are truly delighted to be able to welcome students back to in-person instruction in London, especially at a time when so much has been invested in revamping the program with exciting new courses taught by world-class scholars and practitioners,” Addo said. “The mission of Notre Dame Law School to educate a different kind of lawyer will be enhanced immensely, in my opinion, by the London program experience. I recommend it unequivocally to all eligible students. Go Irish!”

A few of the Notre Dame Law students currently in London shared about their experiences in a Q&A below.

Taylor Wewers

Taylor Wewers is a second-year law student from Fort Smith, Arkansas. She is spending the full academic year in London.

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Taylor Wewers at Buckingham Palace

Did the opportunity to study in London influence your decision to come to ND Law?

Yes, I did not have the opportunity to study abroad during my undergraduate years so having that option was an important factor in my law school search. After I started at ND Law, I learned more about what the London Law Program had to offer and was excited to apply for an academic year.

What experiences in London have had the most impact on you?

During the fall semester, I was an extern to a Notre Dame alum and barrister who practices internationally. I enjoyed conducting research and submitting findings that will contribute to significant cases. A second fun experience was finishing my third half-marathon in Victoria Park.

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Taylor Wewers at the Cliffs of Dover

What is your favorite place in London?

There are so many great spots! I have a beautiful walk to class each day with a view of the London Eye, Big Ben, and Trafalgar Square. I also enjoy walking through the National Gallery and other museums.

What has been one of your favorite classes in law school?

My favorite class so far is International Religious Liberty, which I took during the fall in London.

Is there anything else you would like to share about the London Law Program?

The program under the leadership of Professor Addo is globally unmatched. I have enjoyed learning from experts in their fields and the law comparatively.

Sarah Wetzel

Sarah Wetzel is a second-year student from Buffalo, New York. After spending the year studying in London she will spend the summer working in the U.S. capital markets practice group at Clifford Chance’s London office.

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Sarah Wetzel in one of London’s iconic phone booths

Why did you want to study in London during your time at ND Law?

I came to Notre Dame with the goal of being able to work abroad with a U.S. law degree. The opportunity to live in London for a year seemed like a perfect fit.

What has been your favorite part of studying in London?

My favorite parts have been traveling and being able to become closer with my classmates. The London Law Program facilitates this by maintaining small class sizes, scheduling class trips throughout the United Kingdom, offering class dinners, etc.

What experiences have you had in London that have been particularly meaningful to you?

I love the networking opportunities. For example, a group of us went to tea with an alumna based in Oxford. She was incredibly welcoming and we all had a blast.

Where do you live in London?

I live in Conway Hall, which is Notre Dame’s residential building. The facility has flats where many law students live, and it is a short walk to our academic classes in Fischer Hall near Trafalgar Square.

Drake Stobie

Drake Stobie is from Overland Park, Kansas. He is spending his second year of law school in London.

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Drake Stobie at Buckingham Palace

Why did you decide to study in London?

I chose to study in London for a year in order to get the full immersive experience of a year in London. I am very interested in international law, and since London is a hub of international legal practice this program was the perfect opportunity to expand my knowledge and perspective as a truly global law student.

What has been the best part of studying in London?

The opportunity to compare the legal system and conventions of the United Kingdom with those of the United States has really broadened my perspective of the function of law, as well as the strengths and deficiencies in each system.

What extra experiences in London have been most interesting to you?

Our class trips to Parliament and the United Kingdom Supreme Court were fascinating! The opportunity to learn from United Kingdom government and judicial officials is unparalleled.

What makes ND Law unique?

The Notre Dame community, in London and in the United States, is unlike any other. The people, whether they are professors, students, or alumni, are always there for you and have provided me with an immense amount of support in my law school experience. I could not be more thankful for the other members of my Notre Dame family.

Alexis Flores

Alexis Flores is a third-year law student from Brea, California. She spent the fall semester in London, and after graduation will work for a law firm in Orange County, California, in commercial litigation or product liability.

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Alexis Flores at the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom

Why did you want to study in London?

I wanted to break out of my comfort zone. I had never really traveled outside of the U.S. before, so this was an excellent opportunity to grow. I felt like my perspective on the law was a little narrow — so hyper-focused on the various regional American ways I was familiar with — so I wanted to see what the rest of the world had to offer.

What was your favorite part of studying in London last fall?

My favorite part was my externship. I had the opportunity to work for a barrister that specializes in civil law. I was based in the City of London (the historic financial district), was able to regularly observe court at the Royal Courts of Justice, and worked for a member of Parliament at Portcullis House. Most notably, I assisted in a months-long, high-profile inquest for a string of famous murders committed by a serial killer in East London. That case has now been adapted by the BBC into a drama series with several well-known English actors (including one from their version of “The Office”) that was recently released.

What classes did you take and did one stand out as a favorite?

I took English Legal System, Business and Human Rights, Public International Law, and International Religious Liberty.

International Religious Liberty with Professor Mark Hill was my absolute favorite class I have ever taken. Going to Notre Dame, I felt like I had to take advantage of at least one of the religion-oriented classes that the Law School offers and taking that one was a great choice. This class offered a truly global perspective on an extremely topical subject, bringing us beyond the First Amendment we are typically accustomed to.

Some of my favorite London memories are from that class. Professor Hill took us to the Supreme Court to chat with a Justice, to Parliament where we met the former Lord Chancellor and the Prime Minister's Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief, and to Westminster Abbey for a VIP tour.

What was one of your best experiences while you were in London?

London is a great location if you are interested in traveling, both domestically throughout the U.K. and to Europe in general. A group of us traveled through Scotland during our fall break, made some fantastic memories, and saw some of the most breathtaking sights. Over the week we were able to go to Glasgow, Fort William, Isle of Skye, and Inverness. I would highly recommend all of them. The next week, the ND London Law Program took the entire group to Edinburgh to complete the experience. Scotland has now become one of my favorite places in the entire world and I am so grateful for that experience.

Learn more about the Notre Dame London Law Program at law.nd.edu/london.