Exploring Israel as a Law Student

GUEST BLOG Makenzie Way, 2L at the University of Pennsylvania Law School

This spring break…

I passed up the opportunity to relax on the beach in some tropical location and said goodbye to my law school library in favor of a group trip to Israel. Globally, but especially in America, our media channels are filled with geopolitical and international law stories focusing on some aspect of the Israeli state. Having been exposed to this narrative both academically and via the mainstream media, I was curious and excited to see what this trip had to offer.

To preface, there is absolutely nothing wrong with using your spring break to study, see family and friends, or just relax and travel. However, I do urge you to contemplate embarking on at least one trip that is more legal focused, because as law students and academics we are in a unique position to be able to delve into these issues and potentially be involved in the future resolution of them.

Being in Israel, a state known as a religious capital, a conflict zone, and so much more, has truly opened my eyes to how essential it is to experience the things we learn about first hand. As you might have guessed, the American newspapers haven’t gotten the entire Israeli narrative down. After spending only one week in Israel, neither have I to be honest. But seeing and hearing from people actively engaged in the conflict, in the resolution process, and just living in the state has allowed me to paint a broader picture then I previously had.

The main message, however, is not to visit Israel (though if you want to, I highly recommend, and your stomach will truly thank you). The message instead is to consider ways that you can utilize your legal knowledge and education to make an impact both within your immediate community and within the larger global community. If there is a conflict, an issue, a legal system, or an entire country that intrigues you then consider visiting, not just as a tourist, but as an academic (i.e. meeting with local professors, persons from both sides of the narrative, religious figures, politicians, etc.).