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Alumnae and alumni from 19 countries gathered in Kraków, Poland for this year’s annual meeting of the Harvard Law School Association of Europe. This represents a new record. The organizers were visibly pleased. Anne-Caroline Urbain, the French Secretary of the HLSAoE beamed: “Getting in touch with alums all over Europe is hard work. But it was worth it!” The location surely helped: Kraków is an incredible city that has only recently been discovered as the touristic jewel it is – a medieval capital with an enticing southern charm, blissfully undisturbed by two World Wars.
Traditionally, the HLSAoE meeting takes place on Ascension weekend, with a mix of sightseeing, socializing and academic learning. This year’s half-day conference was devoted to Polish legal culture and its relevance for Europe. At the invitation of Dean Jerzy Pisulinsky of the venerable Jagiellonian University, the conference was held in the medieval heart of this University. Professor Fryderyk Zoll lectured on possible lessons from Poland for the unification of private law in Europe, followed by a discussion with a panel of Polish alums.
HLS Assistant Professor Glenn Cohen conveyed the greetings of the HLS. He then captured the audience with his outstanding presentation of his work at the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics. One participant later expressed a common mood: “I had no idea that health law could be so fascinating; and Glenn was just great."
The sightseeing not only included Kraków, but also nearby Auschwitz and the amazing Wieliczka salt mine, a huge underground world complete with banquet halls and churches, all hewn into pure salt over a thousand years.
A regular attendant summed it up succinctly: “A superb event!” First-timer Professor Glenn Cohen agreed: “What a wonderful gathering and group of people. A perfect combination of academic enrichment, sightseeing, good food, and better people.”
Culture, socializing, and learning are not the only purposes of the Association. It is also about supporting students with insufficient means. HLSAoE Treasurer Henrik Rossing Lønberg reports: “Thanks to strict budgeting at the Kraków event and the generosity of many of our members, we were again able to send USD 20,000 to the Law School for grants to Eastern European LL.M. students.”
At the end, the new President Felix Dasser was visibly relieved: “For the current leadership's first event, I set three goals: (i) to increase participation by about 50%, (ii) to engage in a discussion with the legal community of the host country, and (iii) to attract young members, especially from the Central and Eastern European countries that were weakly represented in the past. Now I am happy to see that with the tremendous help from our Polish members, the Harvard Law School, and my fellow officers, we reached all of these goals. I am particularly proud that there were so many young alumnae and alumni from Eastern Europe.”
For next year, Felix Dasser is setting his sights even higher. He has already started organizing the next meeting that will take place in his home town of Zurich on May 17-20, 2012. “Zurich is a great place, easy to reach and easy to get around: We are planning for another 50% increase in participation and we will make sure we have another program in place that will please everybody!”
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