Law students to present at prestigious conference in Sweden

Two University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law students have been invited to present academic papers at a prestigious conference in Örebro, Sweden.

Law students Scotti Hill and Chris Eckels will present their research at the 19th International Roundtable for the Semiotics of Law (IRSL 2018), hosted by Juridicum, the law school at Örebro Universitet in collaboration with the Association of the International Roundtables for the Semiotics of Law.

The event will take place May 23-25. The students were invited to present after Professor Wayne McCormack encouraged several of his students to the seek out the opportunity to present at the conference, for which this year’s theme is “Law and Arts in Crime Settings.”

“This is a tribute to the broad interests of our students as well as to their academic preparation. The College of Law’s role on the international stage has been developing for the past decade and will continue to grow,” said McCormack of the students’ participation at the conference. “Global issues are an inevitable part of everyone’s future and our graduates will be prepared to meet those challenges.”

Hill and Eckels spoke to the S.J. Quinney College of Law about the forthcoming opportunity and their overall law school experience in a recent Q&A.

Q:  How did you connect with the opportunity to present in Sweden?

SH:  During the fall 2017 semester, I conducted a directed research with Professor McCormack, where I wrote a substantive paper about the looting and destruction of moveable cultural heritage across the globe. Much has been written about this topic discusses “immovable” cultural heritage destruction, like ISIS’ bombing of ancient cities. I wanted to talk about the portable art items that are taken and placed on the western market. I was invited to give a talk about this topic in Sweden.

CE:   I learned of this opportunity in early November when Professor McCormack forwarded an email he had received from the organizer including the call for papers. We were intrigued because I had already been exploring the role symbols play in amplifying or mitigating identity conflict, and was in the process of editing a draft of an article I was writing aimed at popular press publication. I had no real expectation that I’d be selected to present, but I recalibrated my project and submitted an abstract. I received an email from the organizer inviting me to present at IRSL 2018 on Jan.15.

Q: How does your forthcoming presentation tie into what you want to do with your future legal career?

SH: Though I’m by no means an international law expert, I’m highly passionate about art and culture. Before law school, I was an art historian and taught as an adjunct professor of art history at Westminster College and the University of Utah. I came to law school to study intellectual property law, but outside the core classes of trademark, copyright and patent law, I found the intersection of international criminal law and art to be fascinating. Between my 1L and 2L years, I worked for the Center for Art Law in New York City where we felt with art law patronage and criminal matters, so this project was very consistent with my interests. 

CE:   I plan to pursue a litigation career. Successful litigation is about crafting a successful narrative. This conference theme is examining various narratives of violence and conflict. Identity is a major driver of conflict at every level of human society—by understanding the way we shape narratives of identity and narratives of conflict, and the way symbols can be manipulated to deepen divisions or to mitigate differences (real or perceived), we can find ways to create safer, more peaceful, more inclusive societies. That necessarily requires engaging with and relating to people who are different from oneself—a vital skill for a successful attorney—so an international conference seems like a wonderful place to discuss these ideas. The process of preparing this presentation provides me an incredible opportunity to investigate the evidence, shape a narrative, and present a well-built argument to a critical audience. This experience will utilize some of the same skills necessary in the litigation process.

Q: What drew you to law school? What is next for you after graduation?

SH:   I’m a Utahn and have lived in Salt Lake City for many years. I came to law school to study intellectual property law because prior to law school I worked in the arts as an adjunct professor, gallery manager and critic.  Law school has been fun once I got the hang of it! I’ve loved being able to take IP classes and I’ve been involved in SIPLA and served as treasurer on the Family Law Society as well as edited articles for the Family Law Journal. I also published an article in the New York Bar’s Entertainment, Art, and Sports Law Journal, which was great fun.  After graduation, I’d like to continue working in the field of IP. I love copyright, trademark law, and patent litigation.

CE: I was born and raised in Roosevelt, Utah, in the Uinta Basin. I double-majored in theatre an history at Northwestern University, just outside Chicago. Immediately before law school I spent four years as a title paralegal at MacDonald & Miller Mineral Law. My job there basically involved solving very complex puzzles—that, combined with my love of stories and storytelling, are what most draw me to the law. As for after graduation, first thing’s first—pass the bar! I’ve been working at Strong & Hanni since the end of 1L year. It’s a great firm…my coworkers are amazing and the firm’s cultures and values are ones that resonate strongly with me. If I can continue to do good work and keep them happy, and my good fortune hasn’t been completely spent, maybe I’ll find a long-term home there when I graduate.