Profile: Christina Leb, Ph.D. Candidate in International Water Law

Before I left for Geneva, Professor Schlemmer-Schulte gave me a list of contacts she knew in Geneva.  The contacts are all lawyers employed in different areas throughout Geneva.  I have been arranging lunch and coffee dates with all of them to hear more about their career pathways.

My first lunch date was with Christina Leb.  She is a researcher at the Law Faculty at the University of Geneva, Switzerland, and works as an independent consultant in the field of transboundary water resources management and international water law with international governmental and non-governmental organizations such as the World Bank and World Conservation Union (IUCN).

Her research focuses on governance of transboundary watercourses and aquifers, and state cooperation in international law. Previously, she has worked at the World Bank as a member of a multi-sectoral team that supports cooperation and water resources development among the ten riparian countries of the River Nile.

Christina Leb earned an M.A. in conflict management and development economics from the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) of Johns Hopkins University in 2001, and holds a law degree from the Karl-Franzens University Graz, Austria. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in international water law at the University of Geneva. (This is from her bio).

It was a particularly bright day when we took this photo.

She was kind enough to sit down with me at lunch to talk about her experience as a researcher in Geneva.  One of the best parts about her work is how there is always a collaboration of minds from all parts of the globe.  She works closely with people from several different countries.  She enjoys being able to see her research through all the different cultural eyes of her co-workers.  According to Christina, working in an international organization gives you a full picture because everyone comes into it with a different perspective.

I thought it was interesting that she does not “practice law” in the traditional sense. However, her law degree has helped her greatly in her field.  She said that it fills in the gaps by teaching her how to approach problems.  Her legal training teaches her how to analyze and synthesize a great variety of documents and laws.  Since a lot of her work involves looking at different policies, it is helpful for her to be able to read between the lines of various journals, laws, and articles.  Her law degree has helped her understand the meaning of words and why certain words are used and not others.

Her advice to law students: intern. Internships help you learn more about yourself and your passions.  She is a great advocate for discovering your character.  “It comes down to character. It is about knowing where your character fits.” It is just as important to know more about your preferences, your style of working and yourself as it is to know what you want to do in life.  Internships give you valuable experiences in a variety of fields, according to Christina.

The University of Geneve has a beautiful lobby

More to come: This week, I am meeting up with Janelle Diller, Deputy Legal Adviser at International Labour Organization.  Let me know if you have any questions you would like me to ask her, particularly about International Labor Law.

About Yen

Hello! I am a third year law student. This summer I am interning at International Bridges to Justice, a legal non-profit in Geneva. In the Fall, I will be interning for Judge Pocar at the ICTY in The Hague.


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