White & Case is one of the most highly-respected and leading law firms in the world and offers an award to the Law student with the most exceptional Research thesis.
Each year, White & Case recognizes one IE University Law student for their exceptional work in their final Research thesis. The financial support and recognition of excellence from White & Case – one of the most highly-respected and leading law firms in the world – is incomparable; offering IE University students the chance to further their knowledge of the Law and to propel their professional career.
Daniel shares his experience with us:
What was your final project about?
My final project was titled, «The Rise of a Uniform and Global Lex Administrativa; shaping international administrative law through Investor-State Dispute Settlement and International Investment Agreements.» Setting aside the rather extensive title, my final thesis studied the organic creation of a global administrative legal system.
For decades, many jurists have written on the benefits of creating a more globalized and harmonious administrative legal system that would be more fitting in a globalized economic environment than a collection of radically different national administrative legal systems. One of the areas that would greatly benefit from harmonization is foreign investment. For a myriad of reasons, but particularly due to differences in national administrative legal systems, foreign investors have not enjoyed the same level of protection of investments across different jurisdictions.
This results in loss of investment, nationalization of companies or investments, sudden legislative changes affecting the value of investments, etc. In response, countries drafted and signed international investment agreements providing protections and giving rise to international alternative dispute settlement mechanisms, such as arbitration, to ensure states do not treat foreign investment unfairly. As a consequence (most likely unintended), the vast network of international investment agreements and investor-state dispute settlement mechanisms has organically formed a «global» and somewhat harmonized administrative legal system regulating the actions of states across the world in matters of foreign investment.
After delving into this topic and providing real, historical examples of how these treaties relate to each other, my thesis goes on to explore legal philosophy to determine if this new administrative legal system is indeed a valid legal system or if it is simply a network of similar treaty provisions.
Finally, the true test of any legal system is how it responds to an offending party. In other words, a theoretical legal system is put to the test by evaluating how well it responds to breaches in its provisions by an offending party, or, in this case, an offending state. Therefore, I used the very recent and relevant example of Venezuela and its recent nationalization of foreign investment and how well the international investment agreements and investor-state dispute settlement mechanisms (investment arbitration) have enforced the treaty provisions in place. This allowed me to put my ideas to the test both theoretically and practically.
How did your final project stand out from the others?
I think extensive research, a well-structured outline, constant contact with my thesis advisor (Prof. Marco de Benito), and a topic that I was, and still am, passionate about were key elements that helped my project stand out from the others.
What were the project requirements for winning the award?
Besides meeting IE University’s final project requirements, the award itself was not conditional on selecting a specific topic or any criteria of the sort. The White & Case representatives were present at all of the presentations of projects submitted for their consideration, and they asked every informed question on the topics dealt with in each project.
What did the award consist in?
I would say to choose a topic you feel passionate about, even if it seems too simplistic at first. Work with your thesis advisor to flesh out your ideas and to find relevant academic sources to study before drafting. Start as early as possible, and use each and every one of the resources IE University puts at your disposal, including subscription services to a large number of legal and academic databases (the IE Library staff is extremely helpful and willing to explain how to use these sources, to cite them, etc.). Finally, it is important to keep your audience in mind. If you want to win a particular award, be mindful of the topic you choose and keep in mind that the assessment is entirely independent from the University’s assessment; make sure to write your project accordingly.