Recently, students and professors from nine different universities traveled to Madrid to compete in the third Comparative Law in Action competition. Student Carla Franzone, a visiting particpant, gives us a peek behind the scenes and tells us what she gained from the experience.
Created by IE Law School to advance positive change through education, Comparative Law in Action is the first competition of its kind. It brings together students from top law schools and challenges them to apply a comparative legal approach to emerging issues arising from today’s disruptive technologies. Over nine weeks, teams work on an immersive multimedia case that culminates in a presentation to a panel of juries at IE Tower.
The most recent edition of Comparative Law in Action featured a scenario in which a multinational company develops an artificial intelligence software that allows its users to study people’s emotions using a sophisticated surveillance technique. This leads to controversy when it is revealed that the software has been used to oppress members of the political opposition in the fictional state of Ballica.
Challenging traditional legal thinking
We asked Carla Franzone—currently studying her Master of Laws (LL.M.) in European Business and Social Law at Bocconi University in Milan—what inspired her to participate in this year’s Comparative Law in Action competition. Its innovative nature was a major deciding factor: for Carla, the time has come to integrate the worlds of law and new technologies. “I wanted to analyse how law and policy adapt to new dynamics created by technologies, while also leveraging its power to present solutions to legal problems,” she says.
As Carla is studying a program with a focus on IT law, she felt she already had a unique perspective on the case study, rather than a more traditional legal approach. However, she found it challenging to apply her existing legal knowledge to a case involving a non-governmental organization (NGO) and a violation of human rights. But the most demanding aspect, she admits, was “working on several relevant jurisdictions and merging all aspects of technology with human rights.”
Shaping a common future: a challenge for the lawyers of tomorrow
Carla feels strongly that the lawyers of the future “will be called upon to carry out more and more studies on transversal works and on all the different sectors of traditional law.” She predicts that they will work more in-house rather than in court and will increasingly deal with professionals from other fields, such as computer engineers or data scientists.
Although law and policy have always been closely connected to technological innovation, this trend is becoming more and more apparent. This is, Carla says, because “new technologies pose possible risks to human rights, so it is necessary that the law and the policy of a specific state agree.” Only then, she feels, can statutory and regulatory frameworks which uphold fundamental human rights be formulated.
Lessons learned—and some tips for success
Participants in the Comparative Law in Action competition find it an enriching experience both professionally and personally. In Carla’s case, it not only boosted her communication and public speaking skills, but also instilled in her a sense of responsibility towards her teammates. Managing a team of students of varying ages and levels of academic experience posed a particular challenge, but one to which she rose confidently. “I could finally apply rigorous legal analysis, critical thinking and other key leadership skills such as creativity and the ability to adapt to change and work in teams,” she notes. This experience convinced her that a shared task leads to higher quality output and that bringing together “different minds, with different backgrounds” had a significant impact on their overall results.
Carla’s advice for prospective contestants?