Who we Are
TradeLab is an independent, Geneva-based NGO bringing together students, academics, and legal practitioners with the aim of empowering countries and smaller stakeholders to reap the full development benefits of global trade and investment rules. Through pro bono legal clinics and practica, TradeLab connects students and experienced legal professionals to public officials, especially in developing countries, small and medium-sized enterprises and civil society to build lasting legal capacity. Through ‘learning by doing’, we want to train and promote the next generation of trade and investment lawyers. By providing information and support on negotiations, compliance, and litigation, TradeLab strives to make WTO, preferential trade and bilateral investment treaties work for everyone.
TradeLab is governed by Articles 60 et seq. of the Swiss Civil Code and in accordance with the Swiss Civil Code, the purpose, aims and structure of TradeLab are codified in its Articles of Association.
Membership and General Assembly
According to the Articles of Association, membership of TradeLab shall be open only to universities/ centres that participate or want to participate in a legal clinic or practicum part of the TradeLab network ("member organizations"). The main organ of TradeLab is the General Assembly, composed of all member organizations. All members, currently standing at 10, have the right to compose their own delegation and nominate its representative for voting purposes. Each member shall have one vote at the General Assembly.
The second organ is the TradeLab Executive Committee composed of individuals acting in their personal capacity and appointed by the General Assembly. The TradeLab Executive Committee comprises of the following members:
- President - Joost Pauwelyn
- Vice-President - Debra Steger
- Secretary - Sarah Mathew
- Treasurer - Theresa Carpenter
- Jennifer Hillman
- Fadi Makki
- Sergio Puig
The Advisory Board shall be composed of high-level, senior professionals, acting in their individual capacity, to provide strategic input on the functioning of TradeLab.
TradeLab History and Support
TradeLab is the brainchild of Professors Joost Pauwelyn and Sergio Puig when they were both teaching at Stanford Law School in 2013. While the first clinic started out at the Graduate Institute, Geneva, it is now a global network of legal clinics and practica across many countries.
On the technology front, Pieter Gunst, President and Co-Founder of Legal.io, has provided legal informatics and support to TradeLab right from the beginning.
TradeLab has received support under the “International Law for a Global Economy” project funded by the Swiss National Research Foundation, as well as the “Legal Innovation to Empower Development” project funded by the Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF). The core participants in the QNRF project are Joost Pauwelyn, Fadi Makki, Marc Busch, Talal Al-Emadi, Francis Botchway, Rafael Brown and Sergio Puig. Theresa Carpenter and Valbona Zenku provide project management and administrative support.
What are Legal Clinics and Practica
The legal clinics and practica are composed of small groups of highly qualified and carefully selected students who work on specific legal questions posed by beneficiaries. The students work in groups under the close supervision of one or more Professors (Academic Supervisors) and are also teamed up with experts (Mentors) from law firms, national or international organizations or academia, who lend their knowledge, time and feedback to the students, pro bono. The students are carefully prepped and supervised by the Academic Supervisors and Teaching Assistants.
Over the course of the semester, usually three to four months, the students benefit from skills and expert sessions, conduct detailed legal research and work on several drafts shared with Academic Supervisors, Mentors and beneficiaries for comments and feedback. The output can range from a legal memorandum to a brief, draft law, treaty text or other output tailored to the beneficiary’s needs. At the end of the semester, the groups submit a written output and orally present their project in class in the presence of the beneficiaries and other invited guests. The work and output can be made public or kept confidential depending on the need and requirement of the beneficiaries.
Trade Lab clinics and practica are win-win for all involved: beneficiaries get expert work done for free helping them build capacity; students learn by doing, obtain academic credit, expand their network and get an opportunity to work on real-life legal questions presented by beneficiaries; faculty and expert mentors share their knowledge on cutting-edge issues and are able to attract or hire top students with proven skills.
How TradeLab can help
By using our network, we can assist you with a variety of international economic law projects, including the following:
- Research and analysis for treaty negotiations
- Compliance assessment of domestic or foreign laws
- Compliance assessment of proposed or existing legislation
- Drafting model legislation
- Drafting advocacy positions in the context of existing agreements on trade and investment
- Assessment of legal claims or defense strategies
- Writing of party, third party submissions and legal memoranda
- Preparation of amicus curiae briefs
- Legal and economic research on cutting-edge trade or investment law questions
All projects prepared and published by TradeLab law clinics and practica are done on a pro bono basis by students for research purposes only. The projects are pedagogical exercises to train students in the practice of international economic and investment law, and they do not reflect the opinions of TradeLab and/or the academic institutions affiliated to TradeLab. The projects do not in any way constitute legal advice and do not, in any manner, create an attorney-client relationship. The project cannot, in any way, and at any time, bind, or lead to any form of liability or responsibility for the clinic participants, participating academic institutions, or TradeLab.