Series: Meet the Members of the ECSL - Sara and Yolanda, Legal Interns at the European Space Agency
ECSL members, Sara and Yolanda, are two law students currently working as Interns at the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Legal Services Department. We have asked them to tell us a bit about their involvement with the ECSL, the work they do as Interns at ESA and their future aspirations.
First, can you tell us your names, where you come from and where you study and work?
My name is Georgia Maria (Yolanda) Kalogirou and I come from Greece. I hold the Certificate in Transnational Law (CTL) by the University of Geneva and recently I completed my undergraduate studies at the Faculty of Law of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. Currently, I am a Legal Intern at the Institutional Law Division of the Legal Services Department of ESA.
My name is Sara Pinto Ferreira and I was born in Portugal. Having finished my bachelors in Law in NOVA Lisbon School of Law in June, I am currently a Legal Intern in ESA’s Legal Services Department.
How did you first get involved with the ECSL?
Yolanda: My first involvement with the ECSL was in 2014 when I was member of the team that represented the Athens Law School in the European Rounds of the Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court Competition (hereinafter MLMC). Since then, I have been actively engaged in ECSL’s activities by participating in the ECSL Essay Competition 2015, where I was awarded as Runner-up. I also attended the ECSL Practitioner’s Forum in 2016 and 2017, and presented my research on a space law related subject at the ECSL Young Lawyers’ Symposium 2017. What is more, in 2016 I was Assistant to the Faculty Advisor of the Athens Law School for the MLMC, where we were declared World Champions in the World Finals in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Sara: I first heard of the ECSL in a space law course organised in Portugal by my university, which is Portugal’s National Point of Contact for the ECSL. However, I would say I first got involved with the ECSL in the 25th Edition of the ECSL Summer Course on Space Law and Policy, in Warsaw, Poland.
What has been the ECSL activity that has influenced you the most so far, and why?
Yolanda: The ECSL activity that has influenced me the most thus far was the Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court Competition. The redaction of memorials within a limited timeframe and this argumentation’s presentation before space law experts and judges both in a persuasive and clear way was one of the most challenging experiences of my student life, and definitely shaped me as a jurist.
Sara: The ECSL Summer Course on Space Law and Policy had to be the activity organised by the ECSL which has influenced me the most. The Summer Course not only opened up many opportunities which eventually lead me to my internship at ESA, but it was also the turning point with regards to my interest in space law. I was able to meet and get to know many other space law enthusiasts from several countries and be a part of the space law community, filled with extraordinary people from different backgrounds but with a shared interest and excitement for space and law.
Describe your workplace and a normal day at work as an Intern at ESA:
Yolanda: A regular day as an Intern at ESA starts with a meeting with the respective supervisors and assignment of tasks. Following that, drafting legal documents and researching jurisprudence are the main duties to be carried out.
Sara: A normal day at work starts by passing by the Eiffel Tower to go to work. As a trainee, I am in an open space with several other interns, from different departments, which allows us to integrate and promotes a healthy exchange of ideas with people from different backgrounds. In the Legal Department, my main task is currently to work on the Department’s legal database. Every day, I get to see and study contracts, agreements, NDAs and many other documents made by ESA, which provide the legal framework for all of its space-related activities. Besides that, I also occasionally help the legal staff with research, or any other task they would need related to ESA’s legal aspect, from public international (and space) law to IP and procurement.
What is your favourite thing about the work you do?
Yolanda: The best thing about working at ESA is having the chance to work in an international environment and getting to know people from different cultures and backgrounds.
Sara: I would say my favourite thing about the work that I do at ESA is the fact that not only it is useful and important for the Agency itself, but it also allows me to gain a deeper understanding of international organizations (IO) in general, and ESA in particular. At ESA, I have a chance to see how the Agency works in action, besides contributing, through the Legal Department, to realising its purpose.
What did you do to get the Internships at ESA?
Yolanda: My participation in the Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court Competition sparked my interest for public international and space law. Having already work experience in law offices and firms, I started looking for internship opportunities in the aforementioned fields in international organisations. Thereafter, ESA seemed as the ideal place for me, since I could work both on international and space law.
Sara: After attending the ECSL Summer Course, I was able to get in touch with the Legal Department in ESA, and send my CV. In the end of the recruitment process, ESA contacted me and I was thrilled with the opportunity to do an internship at the Agency! I believe what really contributed to getting the internship was that not only I have consistently been involved and showed interest in extra-curricular activities besides my degree, such as Model UN, moot courts, internships, courses and conferences, but also showed a particular interest in space law, participating in events related to this area.
When you finish as an Intern at ESA, what are you doing next - and what would you like to do in the future?
Yolanda: In September, I am moving to Montreal, Canada to pursue my LL.M. in Air and Space Law at the Institute of Air and Space Law of McGill University. After obtaining my LL.M., I intend to gain valuable working experience in international law firms, international organisations and industry.
Sara: Once I finish my internship at ESA, I will continue my studies with a Master’s degree focusing on litigation and arbitration, followed by an LL.M in public international law in the United States. In the future, I see myself working as a lawyer as well as in academia. Although I might also work in other areas, I believe I will always work in and be linked with space law, since it is an area of law I truly enjoy.
Introducing the “Meet the members of the ECSL” series:
The idea behind the “Meet the members of the ECSL” series is to showcase the diverse range of opportunities within space law and policy, inspire others to enter into the field and encourage interaction between ECSL members. The opinions expressed in this article is that of the subject(s) interviewed, and not the ECSL or ESA.
If you wish to be part of this series, or nominate another ECSL member/institution – please contact the ECSL Executive Secretary Ms. Mari Eldholm - firstname.lastname@example.org